TITLE

How accurately do we know the temperature of the surface of the earth?

AUTHOR(S)
Lovejoy, S.
PUB. DATE
December 2017
SOURCE
Climate Dynamics;Dec2017, Vol. 49 Issue 11/12, p4089
SOURCE TYPE
Academic Journal
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
The earth's near surface air temperature is important in a variety of applications including for quantifying global warming. We analyze 6 monthly series of atmospheric temperatures from 1880 to 2012, each produced with different methodologies. We first estimate the relative error by systematically determining how close the different series are to each other, the error at a given time scale is quantified by the root mean square fluctuations in the pairwise differences between the series as well as between the individual series and the average of all the available series. By examining the differences systematically from months to over a century, we find that the standard short range correlation assumption is untenable, that the differences in the series have long range statistical dependencies and that the error is roughly constant between 1 month and one century-over most of the scale range, varying between ±0.03 and ±0.05 K. The second part estimates the absolute measurement errors. First we make a stochastic model of both the true earth temperature and then of the measurement errors. The former involves a scaling (fractional Gaussian noise) natural variability term as well as a linear (anthropogenic) trend. The measurement error model involves three terms: a classical short range error, a term due to missing data and a scale reduction term due to insufficient space-time averaging. We find that at 1 month, the classical error is ≈±0.01 K, it decreases rapidly at longer times and it is dominated by the others. Up to 10-20 years, the missing data error gives the dominate contribution to the error: 15 ± 10% of the temperature variance; at scales >10 years, the scale reduction factor dominates, it increases the amplitude of the temperature anomalies by 11 ± 8% (these uncertainties quantify the series to series variations). Finally, both the model itself as well as the statistical sampling and analysis techniques are verified on stochastic simulations that show that the model well reproduces the individual series fluctuation statistics as well as the series to series fluctuation statistics. The stochastic model allows us to conclude that with 90% certainty, the absolute monthly and globally averaged temperature will lie in the range −0.109 to 0.127 °C of the measured temperature. Similarly, with 90% certainty, for a given series, the temperature change since 1880 is correctly estimated to within ±0.108 of its value.
ACCESSION #
126245909

 

Related Articles

  • Southern Ocean Sector Centennial Climate Variability and Recent Decadal Trends. Latif, Mojib; Martin, Torge; Park, Wonsun // Journal of Climate;Oct2013, Vol. 26 Issue 19, p7767 

    Evidence is presented for the notion that some contribution to the recent decadal trends observed in the Southern Hemisphere, including the lack of a strong Southern Ocean surface warming, may have originated from longer-term internal centennial variability originating in the Southern Ocean. The...

  • Historical evolution of global and regional surface air temperature simulated by FGOALS-s2 and FGOALS-g2: How reliable are the model results? Zhou, Tianjun; Song, Fengfei; Chen, Xiaolong // Advances in Atmospheric Sciences;May2013, Vol. 30 Issue 3, p638 

    In order to assess the performance of two versions of the IAP/LASG Flexible Global Ocean-Atmosphere-Land System (FGOALS) model, simulated changes in surface air temperature (SAT), from natural and anthropogenic forcings, were compared to observations for the period 1850-2005 at global,...

  • Contributions of solar and greenhouse gases forcing during the present warm period. Lim, Hyung-Gyu; Yeh, Sang-Wook; Kim, Ji-Won; Park, Rokjin; Song, Chang-Keun // Meteorology & Atmospheric Physics;Oct2014, Vol. 126 Issue 1/2, p71 

    Due to the dramatic increase in the global mean surface temperature (GMST) during the twentieth century, the climate science community has endeavored to determine which mechanisms are responsible for global warming. By analyzing a millennium simulation (the period of 1000-1990 ad) of a global...

  • Comparing the model-simulated global warming signal to observations using empirical estimates of unforced noise. Brown, Patrick T.; Li, Wenhong; Cordero, Eugene C.; Mauget, Steven A. // Scientific Reports;4/24/2015, p9957 

    The comparison of observed global mean surface air temperature (GMT) change to the mean change simulated by climate models has received much public and scientific attention. For a given global warming signal produced by a climate model ensemble, there exists an envelope of GMT values...

  • Asymmetry of surface climate change under RCP2.6 projections from the CMIP5 models. Xin, Xiaoge; Cheng, Yanjie; Wang, Fang; Wu, Tongwen; Zhang, Jie // Advances in Atmospheric Sciences;May2013, Vol. 30 Issue 3, p796 

    The multi-model ensemble (MME) of 20 models from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase Five (CMIP5) was used to analyze surface climate change in the 21st century under the representative concentration pathway RCP2.6, to reflect emission mitigation efforts. The maximum increase of...

  • The sun may be driving global warming after all...  // Consumers' Research Magazine;Apr96, Vol. 79 Issue 4, p7 

    Focuses on studies which indicate a strong correlation between the levels of solar radiation and temperature records extending back hundreds of years. Implications for governmental policies regarding global warming.

  • Brighter sun warms greenhouse debate. Easterbrook, Gregg // U.S. News & World Report;10/06/97, Vol. 123 Issue 13, p34 

    Discusses the impact that the sun has on global warming. The increase in the sun's brightness from 1986 to 1996; How the increased brightness would affect the temperature of the Earth; The publishing of a study by scientists Richard Willson of Columbia University in `Science' magazine.

  • Tracing the ups and downs of the mercury. O'Leary, Jim // Odyssey;Apr96, Vol. 5 Issue 4, p5 

    Presents ways of determining the earth's temperature in the past, which could be useful in predicting future effects of the atmosphere's warming. Examination of tree rings for a record of climate change; Information from cores drilled from ice sheets; Occurrence of a `Little Ice Age' from 1400...

  • biG BaD WoRLd.  // New Internationalist;May2015, Issue 482, p32 

    A cartoon about the sick planet Earth due to global warming is presented.

  • Global Warming.  // Danish Foreign Policy Yearbook;2015, p189 

    The article presents the results of a survey regarding the global warming.

Share

Read the Article

Courtesy of THE LIBRARY OF VIRGINIA

Sorry, but this item is not currently available from your library.

Try another library?
Sign out of this library

Other Topics