Thursday, May 10, 2012

Reconciling satellite measurements and global climate models

Science 2.0: How can basically honest scientists using a rigorous methodology have different data?  Numerical models are tricky business and while climate scientists are rapidly becoming experts in statistics and creating better models, that was not always the case.

One vital component of getting clean models is accurate calibration. Calibration is life, in science.  A satellite temperature record put together by the University of Alabama in Huntsville in 1989 has often been cited by climate change skeptics as evidence of doubt that models showing the impact of greenhouse gases on global warming are accurate.

A new analysis says the climate record with a slower atmospheric warming trend than other studies contains a data calibration problem and when the problem is corrected the results fall in line with other records and climate models, like satellite temperature records developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Remote Sensing Systems.

The paper does not resolve all the discrepancies among the records, and researchers will continue to look at ways to reconcile those conflicts, but it would explain some of them. "There's been a debate for many, many years about the different results but we didn't know which had a problem," said Qiang Fu, a University of Washington professor of atmospheric sciences. "This discovery reduces uncertainty, which is very important."...

OGO-1 satellite on Earth's orbit - artist's vision

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