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Undeniable: Satellites Get Inconvenient

Two things just happened that should prove to be problems for deniers. Having long staked their arguments against climate action on the satellite temperature record—which doesn’t show as much warming as global combined land and sea surface measurements—deniers will soon be forced to concoct a new argument.

This is because Roy Spencer, keeper of the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) satellite record, announced on March 1 that February broke the record for the hottest monthly anomaly since the satellites went up in 1978. At the same time, Carl Mears and the Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) team revised their satellite data to correct for errors regarding the time and place at which the satellites took temperature measurements, which resulted in a clear upward trend in the RSS record.

So just as deniers were once again celebrating the supposed confirmation of the pause, their preferred data sets betrayed them. For RSS, the mid-troposphere temperature trend since 1979 is now 0.125°C per decade, up from 0.078°C per decade. As for UAH, February’s record-breaking spike reached 0.83°C, which means deniers will have a much harder time cherry-picking trendlines to show a pause. Of course, this doesn’t mean deniers won’t try.

Though maybe they’ll adopt the slightly more honest position, which Spencer recently outlined in a quote to Jason Samenow: “There has been warming. The question is how much warming there’s been and how does that compare to what’s expected and what’s predicted.” The next big talking point for deniers, then, may be to question how well the models have done in capturing how much warming we’ve seen.

So how do the models compare to observations? As one recent study shows, they’re basically spot on. But for now, we’ll just sit back and wait for Lamar Smith to subpoena Roy Spencer’s emails…

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