“South Pole experiences warmest year on record in 2009″… NOT!

This is from the Antarctic Sun, a publication of the United States Antarctic Program and the National Science Foundation…

Highs and lows

South Pole experiences warmest year on record in 2009

By Peter Rejcek, Antarctic Sun Editor

Posted April 30, 2010

The average temperature at the South Pole was a bone-chilling minus 47.9 degrees Celsius (minus 54.2 Fahrenheit) in 2009. It was also the warmest year on record since 1957, when temperature records began at South Pole.

Last year beat out the previous record in 2002 by one-tenth of a degree centigrade, according to Tim Markle, senior meteorologist at the South Pole Station…

[…]

LINK

Why do the Gorebots make this so easy?

Amundsen-Scot Station (90.0S, 0.0E AKA The South Pole)…

All you have to do, is to look up the data… GISS Surface Temperature Analysis, Station List Search: (90.0 S,0.0 E)… More often than not, these people are massaging the data to get the result they want; or just making things up.

The average annual temperature at the South Pole was warmer in 2002 than it was in 2009…

2002: -47.66 C -53.79 F

2009: -47.93 C -54.274 F

The coldest annual average annual temperature at the South Pole was recorded in 1983 (-50.84 F, -59.51 F).

The record only goes back to 1957. Does anyone know how often record highs and record lows should be broken in such a short time series?

At a record length of 53 years, there is a 2% chance of setting a new record high in the 53rd year…

The probability, pn(1), that the nth observation of a series xm= x1, x2, … xn has a higher value than the previous observations [pn(1) = Pr(xn > xi |i < n)] can be expressed as:

pn(1)= 1/n                                     (1)

provided the values in series are iid random variables.

(Benestad, 2003)

The cumulative probability says that 4 to 5 record highs should have been set between 1957 and 2009.

Only four record highs were actually set during that period…

1957 -48.92 C (1 record statistically expected)

1958 -48.35 C (2 records statistically expected)

1988 -46.90 C (4 records statistically expected)

2002 -47.66 C (4 records statistically expected)

The 1988 record was late (statistically speaking). The 3rd record high “should” have occurred between 1963 and 1974. A fifth record high has been “statistically expected” since 2007. So, even if the claim in the article was true, it wouldn’t have been statistically significant.  Four record lows were also set during this period (1957, 1959, 1976 and 1983)… Pretty well right on statistical schedule.  The South Pole is actually due for its 5th record high and low.

Probability of Annual Record Temperatures at Amundsen-Scott Station.

Here’s another kicker… Not only is the warmest year of record false, but the linear trend-line is negative…

And the Gorebots accuse us of cherry-picking!!!

Another “funny” thing… This story has been reported by Live Science and Fox News, Fox News incorrectly reported different numbers than the original article.

Fox News: 2002/-54 F 2009/-54.2 F
Live Science: 2002/-54.4 F 2009/-54.2 F
Antarctic Sun: 2002/-54.4 F 2009/-54.2 F

(The data above have been corrected pursuant to the comment by Mr. Rejcek.)

All of which are wrong according to the Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN).

The Actual Data: 2002/-53.8 F 2009/-54.3 F

2009 was 0.1 F cooler than all three articles indicate and 2002 was 0.2 to 0.6 F warmer than the three articles indicate.

Fox News actually came closest to the real numbers and actually showed 2002 being warmer than 2009; yet still reported the original article’s erroneous claim.
 

Doesn’t anyone ever check their work before publishing?

Reference:

R. E. Benestad. How often can we expect a record event? CLIMATE RESEARCH. Vol. 25: 3–13, 2003

Addendum

I have been in contact with Mr. Rejcek via his comments in this thread and email.  He stands by the assertion that the data from the meteorologists at the station support the claim that 2009 was the warmest year on record at the South Pole.

To ensure that the GHCN data on the NASA-GISS website were not flawed, I downloaded the daily temperature data for the Amundsen-Scott station directly from the NCDC.  Here’s a comparison of the monthly averages for 2002 and 2009 that I calculated from those data…

Amundsen-Scott Station 2002 vs 2009

These data also show 2002 to have been warmer than 2009 at the South Pole.

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6 Responses to ““South Pole experiences warmest year on record in 2009″… NOT!”

  1. drewski Says:

    “Statistically expected” may be good to know before shooting craps, but we are talking about observations AFTER the fact. Looks to me that you are just trying to muddy the waters with irrelevant statements and confusing reasoning. It also appears — from the graph — that the 3 warmest years all happened after 2000 — any reason why you didn’t mention that?
    “More often than not, these people are massaging the data to get the result they want; or just making things up.” This quote fits the climate skeptics to a tee.

    • David Middleton Says:

      “‘Statistically expected’ may be good to know before shooting craps, but we are talking about observations AFTER the fact.”

      I’ve never met a scientific observation that occurred BEFORE the fact. A hypothesis is promulgated, experiments are run and observations made. Then the hypothesis is tested against the fact. If the temperature variation is just natural variability, it should behave in a manner consistent with a series of random variables. If the temperature variation has a strongly secular component, it should behave in a manner inconsistent with a series of random variables.

      The temperature variation at Amundsen-Scott station has behaved in a manner consistent with a random variable sequence over its 53-year record length.

      “It also appears — from the graph — that the 3 warmest years all happened after 2000 — any reason why you didn’t mention that?”

      It’s the same reason that I didn’t mention that the 11 coldest years all occurred between 1980 and 2010. It’s not really statistically relevant.

      Antarctica is meteorologically isolated from the rest of the world, largely due to the Antarctic polar vortex. It tends to trend in the opposite direction relative the rest of the world.

      Antarctica does appear to have been generally warming since about 1998, when the rest of the world stopped warming.

      Antarctica was clearly cooling from 1976 to 1998, when the rest of the world was clearly warming.

      “This quote fits the climate skeptics to a tee.”

      And falsely reporting that 2009 was the “warmest year on record” at the South Pole fits the Gorebots to a tee.

  2. Peter Says:

    Hello. I’m the writer of the article. Just one correction.

    2002: minus 48 degrees Celsius
    2009: minus 47.9 degree Celsius

    One-tenth of a degree warmer in 2009.

    My data came from records kept at the station. I can’t speak to the conversion challenges at Fox, LiveScience, et al.

    This DID NOT come from our story as your print above:
    “Antarctic Sun: 2002/-54.3 2009/-54.2”

    Regards,
    Peter

    • David Middleton Says:

      Peter,

      That was my mistake. I should have seen that the “one-tenth of a degree” was Celsius and not Fahrenheit.

      I will correct my post accordingly.

      I certainly would not expect you to speak to the conversion challenges of others… But the Amundsen-Scott station data in the Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN) clearly show that 2002 was warmer than 2009…

      2002: -47.66 C (-53.79 F)

      2009: -47.93 C (-54.27 F)

  3. Peter Says:

    Thanks for the quick reply. I suppose we could debate sources and tenths of a degree until the end of time … My source was the data set kept at the station.

    Everyone enjoys talking about the weather. I thought it was an interesting little fact, esp. when coupled with the more recent news about the very cold April and that 2010 (thus far) is trending evern warmer than 2009 (and 2002).

    The article never claims that this is a sign of global warming. In fact, East Antarctica (where the geographic pole and station are located) has probably cooled slightly, though the warming in the west is far stronger and pronounced, particularly along the Antarctic Peninsula, where (statistically speaking) ice shelves are collapsing at an unprecedented rate).

    Anyway, at least it gave you something to blog about.

    Regards,
    Peter

    • David Middleton Says:

      Peter,

      I apologize for the error. And I suppose that my use of the word, “Gorebots” was uncalled for. I’m kind of new to this blogging thing and it’s easy to get carried away; particularly with some of the “denialist” sort of rhetoric that often comes my way.

      I do appreciate you taking the time to visit my blog and correct my error.

      If the data at the station is correct, you folks might want to pass that on to NASA-GISS and GHCN. Because their record for the Amundsen-Scott station is different.

      The odd thing is that the difference is for the 2002 annual average temperature. The 2009 temperatures more or less match up.

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