Satellite temperature data versus carbon dioxide

The latest satellite based temperature of the lower atmosphere is shown in the graph below.


In 1998, a strong El Nino seems to have precipitated a shift of about 0.5 C between two oscillating but fairly level global temperature regimes.  In contrast, atmospheric carbon dioxide content has been steadily rising according to measurements taken at the Mauna Loa observatory (see graph below).  There does not seem to be any correlation between the two data sets, indicating that carbon dioxide emissions have had no major influence on temperature.


See also:

Carbon Dioxide and the Greenhouse Effect

Humans and the Carbon Cycle



  1. In a recent interview, Murray Gell-Mann had this to say, “Is it really, really so extremely difficult to persuade people that climate, which is average weather, can have three contributions that add to one another? That is, some cyclical effects, some random noise and a secular steadily rising trend from human activity? Can people really not grasp this trivially simple idea?” Apparently. JP

    1. John, I expected you to deny the evidence. You claim that carbon dioxide produces a major effect.  Where is the physical evidence?  There is no such indication here.

      1. Jon, Why would you expect to see a chart showing a logarithmic function move in lockstep with a chart having overlying cyclic functions? ” Where is the physical evidence?” How about: (a.) CO2 in the atmosphere traps heat (b.) we’re putting more CO2 in the atmosphere (c.) it’s getting hotter. JP

  2. It’s great watching you guys fight, kind of like putting a snake and a rat terrier in a bag to fight it out.  But I think Mr. DuHamel is correct in this case-a great many predictions have been made about the effects of carbon dioxide emissions over the past 2 decades and they simply have not come to pass.  Dr. Parsons argument in support of AGW offers no evidence, merely a hypothesis with a demonstrably untrue declaration at the end. 
    It is not, in fact, getting hotter, and that is according to the scientists’ own data.   If you graph RSS satellite data or Hadley’s own readings, there is a demonstrable drop in the global temperature over the past decade (visit and see for yourself).  While it is true that it is the hottest decade on record, that record only goes back 160 years…out of 4.6 billion years or so.  This is akin to claiming that the last 70 seconds or so of an individual’s life are representative of the whole.  Since we have ice and wood cores going back much farther than that which clearly demonstrate identical or even greater climatic fluctuations which aren’t being factored in, it is clear this is incomplete, and therefore skewed, science.

    1. Tunk, Measurements covering ten years are not measurements of climate. The cyclic and random effects obscure the underlying trend on short timescales.To see the recent period with these cylic effects removed, see this:

      Jon shows the the UAH/MSU data with a third polynomial fit. To see the linear trend over the same period see this:

      Saying that the paleoclimatic data “aren’t being factored in” is simply false. The fact that temperatures have been warmer and colder in the past shows us how sensitive our climate is. This should make us more cautious about our activities that effect it, not less. JP

      1. John Parsons see
        “The fact that temperatures have been warmer and colder in the past shows us how sensitive our climate is. This should make us more cautious about our activities that effect it, not less.”
        No, the large temperature changes the planet has gone in the past tell us nothing about how strongly co2 effects climate. They simply show the huge power natural forces have in influencing climate change.

    1. Adam, So the first 200ppmv CO2 in the atmosphere keep us from being covered in two miles of ice, but the next 200ppmv do nothing? You might want to think that through a little more. JP

      1. JP the comment I linked to simply showed how your claimed that CO2 “trapped” heat was wrong. I think you should focus on that.
        And might I also point out to you, that co2 and the greenhouse effect are two entirely different things. The greenhouse effect is what keeps the planet warm. Co2 only plays a minor role. Clouds are the main factors that control earth’s temperature.

      2. ” Clouds are the main factors that control earth’s temperature.” Yes. And CO2 is one of the main factors that controls clouds. JP

      3. Adam, More specifically CO2 controls water vapor. I forgot for a moment that you are a proponent of the Galactic Cosmic Ray hypothesis. JP

      4. “More specifically CO2 controls water vapour.”
        No. Warming and cooling controls water vapour. Not CO2

      5. CO2 is the key atmospheric gas that exerts principal control (80% of the non-condensing GHG forcing) over the strength of the terrestrial greenhouse effect. Water vapor and clouds are fast-acting feedback effects, and as such, they are controlled by the radiative forcing supplied by the non-condensing GHG.

        CO2 controls (effects) water vapor by trapping heat which in turn increases evaporation and hence, water vapor.

        Adam, as long as you deny that CO2 traps heat in our atmosphere, you will logically come to the unusual conclusions you do. Even Jon recognizes this fact. JP

      6. JP I think you’re making too much of a big deal out of this.
        I don’t deny that Co2 absorbs IR radiation. I was simply pointing out that you were erroneous in your claim that CO2 traps heat. It’s not that important in the issue. It was a very minor point, I just thought it had to be pointed out.
        And please define “unusual conclusions” since you did not actually show where any of my arguments were wrong on the previous thread.

      7. Adam, Here’s what NOAA says: “The greenhouse effect insures that the surface of a planet is much warmer than interplanetary space because the atmosphere TRAPS heat in the same way a greenhouse traps heat. Certain gases, called greenhouse gases, tend to reflect radiant energy from the Earth back to the Earth’s surface, improving the atmosphere’s ability to TRAP heat. All greenhouse gases are trace gases existing in small amounts in our atmosphere. Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, some chlorofluorocarbons, and water vapor.” (my emphasis). JP

      8. Adam says, “JP the comment I linked to simply showed how your [sic] claimed that CO2 “trapped” heat was wrong.” Well I guess NASA is wrong and the National Climate Data Center is wrong and NOAA is wrong too.

        “Scientific studies indicate that CO2 is one of several gases that trap heat near the surface of the Earth. Gases such as CO2 that trap heat in the atmosphere are known as greenhouse gases.”

        “Greenhouse gases absorb this energy, thereby allowing less heat to escape back to space, and ‘trapping’ it in the lower atmosphere.” JP

      9. Adam, I’m fully aware of the argument from authority. I suggest you review your own source more carefully.”… certain classes of argument from authority do on occasion constitute strong inductive arguments” (quote from your source).

        Also this: “The strength of this argument depends upon two factors:
        1.The authority is a legitimate expert on the subject.
        2. A consensus exists among legitimate experts on the matter under discussion.”

        Both are quotes from your source. JP

      10. Adam, There is a correct way to use arguments from authority and there are incorrect ways to use such arguments. My example above clearly meets the criteria, laid out in your own citation, for the correct use. JP

  3. Adam, I didn’t say,”…the past tell us… how strongly co2 effects climate.” I said it shows us indications of climate sensitivity. And in fact, it show us that small changes can have large affects due to feedbacks. JP

    1. “And in fact, it show us that small changes can have large affects due to feedbacks.”
      Once again, it shows the strength of natural influences on the climate. It doesn’t say anything about the co2 forcing.

      1. It shows that small ” natural” variations have profound effects on climate through CO2 feedback mechanisms. JP

  4. It’s not surprising that the satellite data over the last 40 years does not show the warming trend AGW proponents claim.   That data was collected initially by the military to aid in computing the trajectories of ICBMs climbing up through the atmosphere and in warheads descending down through the atmosphere.   Politics may influence if and when such missiles are launched, but only a fool would let such considerations influence the physical data that allows accurate targeting.
    I lost all confidence in the IPCC and those it funded to gather “proof” after I read the information in the FIOA.ZIP file released in 2009.    The HARRY_README.TXT was especially informative as it showed the ridiculous state (his words, not mine) of that the data they used to generate the graphs and reports used to substantiate  the AGW hypothesis.    I was also alarmed at the documents and agreements which stipulated “milestones” for data delivery which would “prove” AGW.    When I was doing my research in anti-cancer metabolites the results were used to test the null hypothesis.  I could not guarantee before hand that a particular change in molecular structure would prevent the growth of a strain of cancer.    As a prof of mine once said, “A thousand experiments cannot prove an hypothesis right, but it takes only one to prove it wrong.”   NO scientist with integrity can claim before hand that they can guarantee the collection of data which would prove any previously untested hypothesis.   That is not how science works, unless it is being gamed.
    The FOIA.ZIP file emails also revealed a pattern of cherry picking, cooking, and trimming (suppression), characteristic of scams, not science.   They told of plots to deliberately violate the FOIA laws, and of deliberately destroying data if they couldn’t.   It told of plots to load climate journals with their co-conspirators, to attack the character and training of journal editors who didn’t buy into AGW, or who expected the supporting data along with the submitted articles.   They talk about replacing editors with their own people, and of stuffing review panels.    They contain evidence of plans to “neutralize” opposing opinions, even those from distinguished professors with decades of expertise in climate studies in institutions like MIT, by denigrating their intelligence, integrity and training.   The use of emotion laded words like “denier” aren’t the actions of data driven scientists, but the acts of political operatives,  gangsters and thugs, not scientists.  
    It all reminds me of what I read about what happened to genetic research in Russia when Lysenko became the darling of Stalin and the Soviet power structure, who thought that Nature could be bent to political wills.  In the present case all one has to do is follow the money.   Which individuals and corporate institutions and countries are making reams of cash and other benefits from the AGW hysteria?   Why, for example, does China, the country contributing MOST to CO2 and environmental pollution, receive more Carbon Credit,s allowing them to pollute even more? 
    Since the first FIOA.ZIP file was released the public has become more cynical over the veracity of AGW proponents, and that skepticism has only increased with the release of the second FOIA file.    Especially since other research has demonstrated better correlations and explanations with less “manipulation” of data.

  5. A mere 34 years of presumably accurate satellite data does not a long-term trend make.  Yes, there are many forces at work increasing and decreasing local and global temperature.  Long period (hundreds of thousands of years) data suggests strong historical swings in temperature and CO2 which easily mask shorter period effects.  And, yes, it’s difficult to pull out the effects of the last few hundred years of industrialization effects on atmospheric temperature, but it has been done to the satisfaction of an overwhelming number of scientists in countries as varied as China and the United States.
    It is acknowledged that there is a subset of generally respected scientists that do not agree.  This is not necessarily different than in many other areas of scientific inquiry.  But what is statistically significant is the political alignment of these scientific voices.  You will find a majority of those who disagree with the CO2 raising the temperature mechanism are to the right in the political spectrum.  Often, they are scientists who derive their income from industries that would dismiss them immediately for disturbing the economics of their endeavor.
    Thus, we can also expect the author of this article to be influenced by a life of geo-exploration for industries that paid for his expertise in finding sources of material necessary for their business.  After all, there is a strong correlation between personal economic success and toeing the company line.
    Do we need minerals and mining/drilling – yes.  Have we been paying our way as we harvest these earthly riches – no.  It is rare to find any mineral industry that will incorporate the full cost of restoration of land disturbed in mineral removal in the cost of their product.  The slag heaps, waste rock, industrial degradation of nearby land is left to future generations to deal with. As for the atmospheric products that all of us contribute through our personal use of these extracted energy-producing minerals, we fail to look ahead and we benefit from our short lives and short-sightedness by not having to deal with the negative consequences that appear so slowly.
    Some of this mentality began in the Reagan years as early environmental protections were dismantled.  It was said that “government was the problem.”  And that argument has been a mantra of those beholding to the industrial segment.  I’d hate to see what the quality of the water would be coming from my tap if there were no government regulations concerning its purity.  And I am dismayed to see the quality of the air I breathe occasionally in Tucson due to my and my fellow Tucsonan’s personal desire for mobility and recreation.
    So, the satellite data is great.  Now merge it with generally accepted historical data gleaned from dendrochronology and ice-core samples and apply a non-political non-economic lens to it.  The ability to deny a relation of CO2 to temperature shrinks measurably.

    1. To Dee Wan:

      Your argument that most skeptics or as I prefer to call them, climate realists, are beholden to industrial interests is spurious (even if true doesn’t mean they are wrong), and a typical ad hominem allegation used by proponents of AGW. The later can be reversed by saying that most AGW scientists depend on government grants to investigate their invented hobgoblin.

      As for your sentence: “And, yes, it’s difficult to pull out the effects of the last few hundred years of industrialization effects on atmospheric temperature, but it has been done to the satisfaction of an overwhelming number of scientists in countries as varied as China and the United States.” Can you provide references to the physical evidence that backs up your appeal to authority?

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