OK, this is from November 2004, but still…

Frontier Centre: We are all familiar with the modern theory that the world’s climate is getting warmer. Is it?

Tim Ball: Yes, it warmed from 1680 up to 1940, but since 1940 it’s been cooling down. The evidence for warming is because of distorted records. The satellite data, for example, shows cooling.

FC: Could you summarize the evidence that suggests the world is cooling slightly, not warming up?

TB: Yes, since 1940 and from 1940 until 1980, even the surface record shows cooling. The argument is that there has been warming since then but, in fact, almost all of that is due to what is called the “urban heat island” effect — that is, that the weather stations are around the edge of cities and the cities expanded out and distorted the record. When you look at rural stations — if you look at the Antarctic, for example — the South Pole shows cooling since 1957 and the satellite data which has been up since 1978 shows a slight cooling trend as well.

Even in 2004, rural stations and the satellite data showed warming.

Be careful what you write in comments, Ball might sue you.


  1. #1 Leonard
    July 1, 2006

    Hmm. I think I might bite my lip on this then.

  2. #2 Kenneth Blumenfeld
    July 1, 2006

    Well, at least he got the part about the Antarctic being rural right. Or did he?


  3. #3 Kenneth Blumenfeld
    July 1, 2006

    I like how he jumped over all those other steps en route to his South Pole point. Is he the first to conflate the two? Coby? I thought the UHI problem was invoked to show that warming is an artifact of the instrumentation and where the instruments were placed, and Antarctic cooling was invoked to run against “polar amplification.” But invoking the Antarctic as evidence of UHI contamination is a new on to me. So this is interesting indeed. He must have had his flash cards misprinted.

  4. #4 Paul S
    July 1, 2006

    You know about Ball’s history as a Global Warming skeptic, and who signs his paychecks, right?

  5. #5 llewelly
    July 1, 2006

    Those denialists are infatuated with that 1940s – 1970s aerosol-induced cooling.

  6. #6 Stephen Berg
    July 2, 2006

    Ball’s comment on the Urban Heat Island is ridiculous. David Parker’s study that concluded that the UHI is not responsible for the current records of large-scale global warming is featured in the current issue of Journal of Climate:


    (A subscription is required to view the whole document)

  7. #7 Tim Curtin
    July 2, 2006

    Stephen Berg, welcome to the skeptics! Parker’s piece proves that as cities are cooler than their surrounds, energy production and consumption 90 per cent of which is in urban areas must be offsetting non-AGW global warming, so you can relax now, and cool off in Rotterdam during this summer’s heatwave.

  8. #8 Lee
    July 2, 2006

    Tim Curtin, thanks for showing us quite clearly that you either didnt even bother to read that abstract, or don’t actually give a damn what it said, before you blasted the piece.

    Hint: it does NOT say that there is no UHI. It doesnt say cities are cooler than their surroundings, as you imply. It doesnt even say that cities are not warmer than their surroundings. What it does say is kind of interesting; anyone who had read it would know what interesting thing it says. Do you?

  9. #9 Tim Curtin
    July 3, 2006

    Lee: apologies, I was misled by Berg re Parker and had Peterson in mind myself, with his demonstration of urban cooling (due to all that CO2 overhead before it heads for Mauna Loa) and rural warming (no CO2).

  10. #10 mike
    July 3, 2006

    Here is an op-ed from the Wall Street Journal challenging Al Gore’s recent movie on global warming. I’m curious as to what some of you might say in response:


  11. #11 guthrie
    July 3, 2006

    Well, its the usual kind of opinion piece. But it betrays its origins by this statement about warming:

    “and remaining essentially flat since 1998.”

    Which is not technically correct. What happened was that 1998 was a record El Nino, which therefore spiked at a much higher temperature than had been seen before, and that was so hot that we still havnt reached that temperature again. But we are catching up, the trend is still upwards, and if it carried on, we’ll have these 1998 record temperatures as normal. Theres a nice graph somewhere that shows this, but I dont know where it is right now, I’m posting from work and a bit busy.

  12. #12 Jeff Harvey
    July 3, 2006

    The interview given by Ball is hilarious. The questioner asked him if Canadians should be concerned about the regional effects of what Ball claims is ‘global cooling’ because this may have negative effects on Canadian agricultural output. This comes just after the country had its warmest winter in decades and one of the warmest in recorded history.

  13. #13 Jeff Harvey
    July 3, 2006

    My mistake – OK, so the interview was in 2004. But this past winter’s warmth in Canada makes it look even more ridiculous….

  14. #14 Tim Lambert
    July 3, 2006

    mike, I already dealt with the WSJ op-ed in this post.

  15. #15 z
    July 3, 2006

    ‘”urban heat island” effect’

    And of course, the well known “glacier heat island effect”.

  16. #16 Dano
    July 3, 2006

    I’m curious as to what some of you might say in response:

    The first response is the well-honed Mighty Wurlitzer is alive and well.

    The second response is, again, Lindzen misleads by conflation and FUD.

    There is no need to spend any more time on the head misleader.



  17. #17 Lee
    July 3, 2006

    Tim Curtin:

    Brrrrnnnkkkk!!!!! Wrong again.

    Nothing Berg saisd is misleading – the Parker paper does NOT deny that there are UHIs. It investigates whether the measuered warmign trend is an artifct of UHIs, not whether htey exist or not. You continue to show every sign of misintrepreting a paper by virtue of not having bothered to read even the abstract.

  18. #18 Meyrick Kirby
    July 3, 2006

    Tim Curtin:

    I … had Peterson in mind myself, with his demonstration of urban cooling (due to all that CO2 overhead before it heads for Mauna Loa) and rural warming (no CO2).

    Peterson does not deny UHI’s and neither (as Lee has already pointed out) does Parker.

    As I’ve told you before, Peterson found that the difference in temperaturess found between rural and urban stations was explained by different latitudes, instrumentations, measurement times, etc. Peterson goes on to suggest that urban stations tend to be sited in what might be called “cool islands” within urban areas.

    Parker, by separating the data into 2 samples, one with calm days and another on windy days (when there should be less of a UHI effect), it was found that there was little difference between the temperature trends, ergo little evidence of UHI’s affecting temperature trends.

    In both cases, the existence of UHI’s are not denied, rather there impact on temperature measurements is denied.

  19. #19 Lee
    July 3, 2006

    Meyrick – re your last sentence. Just for precision, in the case of the Parker paper, it isnt an effect on temp measurement they are examining, it is the effect of potential UHI contamination to the observed upward trend in temperature over time.

  20. #20 Meyrick Kirby
    July 3, 2006

    Lee, I would argue my last sentence is correct as an approximation.

    Peterson demonstrates there is little evidence to believe that UHI’s affect the absolute measures of temperature.

    Parker demonstrates there is little evidence to believe UHI’s affect the relative measures of temperature as per time (the first differential of temperature over time), either because the UHI’s have not affected the absolute measures or the effect has remained constant over time.

    They are two separate findings, although mutually compatible. I still think that together they add up to make a strong argument that the UHI effect is not a problem for AGW theory.

    However, I suspect Tim Curtin will have some derogatory comments to make any time soon.

  21. #21 Stephen Berg
    July 3, 2006

    Meyrick, great explanation! Easy to understand and as succinct as I could ever make it out to be.

    If Tim Curtin cannot understand this or refuses to, he has no business speaking on this issue.

  22. #22 Tim Curtin
    July 8, 2006

    Lee et al – no doubt you have read the following:

    De Laat and Maurelis, International Journal of Climatology, 2006 (www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/abstract/112510967/ABSTRACT): “We confirm the presence of a temperature change-industrialization correlation by analyzing the data with an additional statistical method and further confirm the absence of the above correlation in climate model simulations of enhanced GHG warming …These findings suggest that over the last two decades non-GHG anthropogenic processes have also contributed significantly to surface temperature changes.” (with hat tip to IC)

  23. #23 Eli Rabett
    July 9, 2006

    So TimC now that you have read that paper (I assume not in the classic comics version), what fraction of the observed change in global surface temperature did De Laat and Maurelis attribute to non-GHG anothroprogenic changes over whatever period they studied (by the way, what was the period?). I strongly suggest you RTFR before quoting it.

  24. #24 Tim Curtin
    July 9, 2006

    Eli: The paper confirms the abstract, including that there is correlation between observed local temperatures and industrialisation, and that this correlation is absent from climate model simulations, which in normal science is bad news for the latter, eg Hansen et all 1997, IPCC 2001, Hansen et al 2005. But do relax, IPCC will never allow the facts or this paper to get in the way of a beautiful model. You need to understand that what they term “classic UHI” defined as urban v rural land cover is not the issue; their UHI is the effect of industrialisation per se (proxied by CO2 emissions)which is anthropogenic; their measured regional warming is not from atmospheric GHGs. However they concede that “anthropogenic heat is not the only process that may explain the correlation between temperature trends and [spatial]industrial CO2 emissions”. The policy implications of the paper are profound.

  25. #25 Tim Curtin
    July 9, 2006

    Eli: here’s some more bedtime reading for you (hat tip as before). Unlike de Laat and Maurellis with their regional analysis, these authors do find very localised land cover UHI effects on temperature station measurements.

    GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 33, L11703, doi:10.1029/2006GL026358, 2006

    Land use/land cover change effects on temperature trends at U.S. Climate Normals stations
    Robert C. Hale
    Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA
    Kevin P. Gallo
    USGS Center for Earth Resources Observation and Science, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, USA
    Timothy W. Owen
    NOAA National Climatic Data Center, Asheville, North Carolina, USA
    Thomas R. Loveland
    USGS Center for Earth Resources Observation and Science, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, USA


    Alterations in land use/land cover (LULC) in areas near meteorological observation stations can influence the measurement of climatological variables such as temperature. Urbanization near climate stations has been the focus of considerable research attention, however conversions between non-urban LULC classes may also have an impact. In this study, trends of minimum, maximum, and average temperature at 366 U.S. Climate Normals stations are analyzed based on changes in LULC defined by the U.S. Land Cover Trends Project. Results indicate relatively few significant temperature trends before periods of greatest LULC change, and these are generally evenly divided between warming and cooling trends. In contrast, after the period of greatest LULC change was observed, 95% of the stations that exhibited significant trends (minimum, maximum, or mean temperature) displayed warming trends.

  26. #26 Tim Curtin
    July 9, 2006

    For those on this thread and elsewhere in Deltoid, all is not well for their referenced Parker paper:
    Pielke, R. A., Sr., and T. Matsui (2005), Should light wind and windy nights have the same temperature trends at individual levels even if the boundary layer averaged
    heat content change is the same?
    “This paper does not address the actual trends in
    surface layer heat content over time. However, it does
    indicate that if the nocturnal boundary layer heat fluxes
    change over time, the trends of temperature under light
    winds in the surface layer will be a function of height, and that the same trends of temperature will not occur in the surface layer on windy and light wind nights.
    Parker’s [2004] conclusions, therefore, need further
    analysis and interpretation before they can be used to
    conclude whether or not there is an influence of urban
    warming on the large-scale temperature trends. More broadly, the issue of the influence of winds on the vertical temperature stratification with respect to the temperature trends raises the issue as what is actually meant by the term ”surface temperature trend.” Along with the issues of surface temperature changes as related to surface moist enthalpy changes [Pielke et al., 2004] and microclimate station exposure changes [Davey and Pielke, 2005], the reported regionally- and
    globally-averaged surface temperatures trends have unresolved uncertainties.

    Geophys. Res. Lett., 32, L21813,

    This is bad news also for IPCC with its “certainty” that these uncertain globally-averaged surface temperature trends are attributable only to GHG.

  27. #27 Eli Rabett
    July 9, 2006

    Tim C, what was the conclusion of the De Laat and Maurelis paper with respect to the GLOBAL surface temperature. Go read the paper.

    You may recall the story about IBM, CDC and data dumps. RTFR.

  28. #28 Tim Curtin
    July 9, 2006

    Eli: I have read the paper and quoted its conclusion. What is your point? What is RTFR?

  29. #29 Eli Rabett
    July 10, 2006

    Well then TimC, how about telling us what they said about the effects on global surface temperature. RTFR is sort of like RTFM

  30. #30 Tim Curtin
    July 10, 2006

    OK Eli and anybody else shy of the $25 needed to access this paper:
    De Laat and Maurellis (2004, paper I) showed that temperature trends at the surface and in the troposphere are spatially correlated with anthropogenic industrial CO2 emissions (i.e. as a proxy for industrialisation and before they reach the atmosphere to become GHG) over the period 1979-1991; that is near surface temperature trends are higher than average for regions with higher industrial CO2 emissions. Their 2006 Paper II extends the period of observations from 1979 to 2001. The models used in IPCC2001 showed no such trends for regions with higher CO2 emissions: “the climate model simulations do not show any kind of emission-temperature trend correlation” (deL&W, 2006, 909).

    I say this is typical of the IPCC divorce between models and observations. The de L and M Papers I and II accept the belief that there have been rising global surface mean temperatures, but suggest that there are significant non-GHG causes at work. So the answer to Eli’s qustion is that deL&M do not dispute rising temperatures although at least one of the other papers I cited above does. If deL&M are right that it is not the CO2 emissions per se but the energy generated and consumed that are to blame, at 4Wm-2 in the Netherlands and 20-70 Wm-2 in industrial locations, perhaps my suggestion that there are policy implications is worth considering (eg carbon sequestration etc may not be necessary or useful). This follows from the deL&W conclusion that “analysis of climate signals should consider non-GHG anthropogenic processes” (909).

  31. #31 Stephen Berg
    July 10, 2006

    Tim, see the graph on p. 3059 in the following paper:

    Stott, P.A.; Mitchell, J.F.B.; Allen, M.R.; Delworth, T.L.; Gregory, J.M.; Meehl, G.A.; and Santer, B.D. (2006) ‘Observational Constraints on Past Attributable Warming and Predictions of Future Global Warming’ Journal of Climate 19(13) 3055-3069.

    It proves that human activity is the cause of global warming.

  32. #32 Tim Curtin
    July 10, 2006

    Stephen: please reread the deL&W conclusion given above that “analysis of climate signals should consider non-GHG anthropogenic processes” (909). They do not say non-anthropogenic as you infer.

  33. #33 Lee
    July 10, 2006

    Tim Curtin, to quote Eli:

    “what fraction of the observed change in global surface temperature did De Laat and Maurelis attribute to non-GHG anothroprogenic changes over whatever period they studied”

  34. #34 Stephen Berg
    July 10, 2006

    Re: “analysis of climate signals should consider non-GHG anthropogenic processes.”

    They already do! Deforestation, desertification, increased land cover by cities, etc.

  35. #35 Tim Curtin
    July 11, 2006

    Lee: read the paper for yourself, but note it is not necessary for a single paper to solve all problems. The authors show convincingly that the IPCC models are deficient in attributing 100% of whatever global warming there may be (and Pielke senior’s paper suggests there may well be none because of deficiencies in measurement of temperature) to anthro. GHG, when in fact there is clear evidence of a spatial correlation between industrialisation and regional temperatures. You will be glad to hear the authors find these observed anthro temps to be higher than in model outputs that do not allow for this effect. The authors also discuss the fact that satellite observations of temps in the lower tropo are higher than in GHG models. Suppose these are 120% of the IPCC estimate. That still does not mean that 100% is driven by GHG and 20% by energy output in industrialised areas. The authors do not answer Eli’s quesion, why should they? They do suggest the GCMs should be adjusted for the false impression they give that all observed warming is due 100% to GHG; the onus here is on the IPCC, not de Laat. This is especially the case given the strong policy recommendations of IPCC on the basis of their incomplete and misleading modelling. If as deL&W imply energy output may be more potent than atmospheric CO2 some uncomfortable policies may be indicated, and we are all doomed, which will please Stephen.

    But in the unlikely event that you Eli and Lee have a sincere as opposed to point scoring interest, do contact the lead author and ask him:

    Stephen Berg: you simply have not understood the paper (if indeed you have read it).

  36. #36 geoff-c
    July 11, 2006

    That was about the stupidest article I’ve ever read on global warming. (The Frontier Centre article).
    About the South Pole cooling – yes it is, but about 80% of Antarctica is warming (I’d like to post a graph, but I’ll try to get a link to it instead). The urban effect has been well known for a long time, and is taken into account. Does he really think climate scientists haven’t thought of that. What planet is he living on?

  37. #37 Eli Rabett
    July 11, 2006

    Which warming Tim. You are dealing seconds again. RTFR

  38. #38 Meyrick Kirby
    July 12, 2006

    I disappear for a few days, and what happens … Tim (C) goes back to his usual nonsense.

    Okay, first here’s a link to the first paper.

    Secondly, I would remind you Tim that this debate was over the impact of UHI’s on temperature records. The paper does not show that UHI impact on temperature measurements. The paper does show a relationship between industrialised areas and temperature measurements, but over a far larger area. I suspect this subtlety has been lost on you.

    To understand this point we need to first understand the UHI argument. Impact an island country with a single city (urban area), and 2 meteorological stations. One placed in the country and another, unwisely placed right in the middle of the city. If we calculate an average based on the two stations, we will get the wrong answer. Now it is important we consider precisely why it is the wrong answer. The city station will give the temperature for the city. The area of the city covers only a small section of the island. To produce a better average temperature measurement we should weight the measurements of the two stations by the relative areas they give a measurement for, in this case the country station should be weighted far higher than the city station. This is the essence of the UHI argument that urban-based stations only give measurements that are correct for the relatively small urban areas.

    Returning to De Laat & Maurellis, they argue that industrialised areas do have anthropogenic elevated higher temperatures, but over larger areas, what they refer to as regions. Large enough it seems that urban stations give a good measure for their area. For this reason De Laat et al. recommend that urban stations are not removed from temperature measurements:

    This is not to be confused with the issue of whether the proximity of human activity may affect the local temperature measurement without changing the actual temperature over a larger surrounding (cf Loveland and Belward, 1997; Peterson, 2003). The act of homogenizing the data set by ‘removing’ urban stations from temperature data sets could in fact remove an important source of regional warming, especially in highly industrialized regions.

    Note the reference to Peterson. Tim (C) appears to have missed this part of the paper. Quite convenient!

  39. #39 Tim Curtin
    July 12, 2006

    Meyrick says: “this debate was over the impact of UHI’s (sic)on temperature records”. But the first contributors here including Meyrick cited Parker and Peterson that there is no such impact.
    Meyrick: “The paper does not show that [allegedly zero] UHI impact on temperature measurements. The paper does show a relationship between industrialised areas and temperature measurements, but over a far larger area”. So we do have UHI but over a bigger area.
    I suspect that the paper’s subtlety in terms of (1)explanation (energy output not atmospheric CO2) for the wider UHI has been lost on Meyrick, and (2) replacing IPCC modelling with observations (= measurements) that support the hypothesis in (1).
    Anyway good to see that Meyrick now supports the wider UHI. Perhaps he has seen the satellite imagery that shows the heat of industrialised areas “which is directly observable from satellite infra-red imagery, and is apparent from even casual observation” (hat tip).

    Also good to see that Meyrick has repudiated his first offering here (3rd July): “In both cases [Parker & Peterson], the existence of UHI’s are not denied, rather there (sic) impact on temperature measurements is denied”. since he now accepts the de Laat & Maurellis findings. Quite how he then accepted urban heat while denying the UHI effect on temperature measurements has yet to be revealed to us. I fear that Meyrick like Jeff is a creationist, at least in terms of his own confusions.

  40. #40 Eli Rabett
    July 12, 2006

    One of the interesting things that has happened over the last 50-70 years is that the center of cities have depopulated and become less dense as urban areas flatten. Moreover weather stations were moved out to the periphery, often to airports. That means that earlier measurments in city centers were probably much higher than the metro area average while today’s are more representative.

    Finally, you have the issue that global temperature records are really records of temperature anomalies.

    TimC still need to RTFR also a LTR session would help.

  41. #41 Dano
    July 12, 2006

    So we do have UHI but over a bigger area.

    All of Timmy’s wordy-words can’t show whether the actual weather monitoring units included in the GHCN are affected by a UHI.

    I say again: Tim can’t show whether the actual weather monitoring units included in the GHCN are affected by a UHI.

    One more time: Tim can’t show whether the actual weather monitoring units included in the GHCN are affected by a UHI.


    Is that clear?

    Shall I say it again? Ah, what the heck:

    Tim can’t show whether the actual weather monitoring units included in the GHCN are affected by a UHI.



  42. #42 Meyrick Kirby
    July 12, 2006

    Tim (C):

    Meyrick says: “this debate was over the impact of UHI’s (sic)on temperature records”. But the first contributors here including Meyrick cited Parker and Peterson that there is no such impact.

    Err? This debate is over the impact of UHI’s temperatures on global temperature measurements, and I’ve argued there is no significant impact. How is this logically or syntactically inconsistent?

    Anyway good to see that Meyrick now supports the wider UHI.

    No I don’t. There is no such thing as wider UHI’s. The whole point of UHI’s is they are constrained to small areas, therefore the temperatures of UHI’s should not be used to calculate global temperatures. Wider regional heating is important for calculating global temperatures. De Laat et al. are interested in reginal heating, not UHI’s, that’s why they are careful to note that their findings don’t contradict Peterson’s (and by extension Parker’s). I’ve done my best to explain this difference, but if you refuse to understand this, there isn’t much I can do.

    I suspect that the paper’s subtlety in terms of … explanation (energy output not atmospheric CO2) for the wider UHI has been lost on Meyrick

    Again not true. The paper does establish that regional (spatial) industrial temperatures are correlated with regional CO2. De Laat et al. hypothesise that anthropogenic non-GHG causes (including industrial heat) may explain this, but they do not test this. Assuming for arguments sake they are right, then this suggests that some attention should put on anthropogenic non-GHG causes, and less on CO2. Of course this still means that mankind is buggering up the environment (at a regional level rather than global), but by emitting heat, soil usage, etc. Does this mean you think we should divert our attention to these matters?

    Finally, despite your best attempts to suggest otherwise, the lower performance of climate models to explain regional temperature trends, as opposed to global temperature trends, is well known. If I remember correctly Hansen has lamented the problems of making regional forecasts and has noted the importance of improving regional modelling. So stop pretending that this is big news that is being covered up.

  43. #43 Tim Curtin
    July 12, 2006

    Meyrick: “Does this mean you think we should divert our attention to these matters?”
    No as I believe we can and will adapt to and enjoy whatever marginal warming may lie in store for us. The truth remain deL&M along with my other link to Roger Pielke Snr. have holed IPCC below the waterline – note the latter’s final sentence: “..the reported regionally- AND globally-averaged surface temperatures surface trends have unresolved uncertainties”. Tell that to the IPCC and its fellow travelling non-adaptive/non-evolutionists Kirby and Harvey.

  44. #44 Meyrick Kirby
    July 13, 2006

    Tim (C),

    If you had any understanding of the paper you would realise the warming noted by De Laat et al. is not marginal. Their paper does not dispute the magnitude of global warming measured.

    I am not a non-evolutionist, I neither is Jeff Harvey. Jeff Harvey has already explained why this is the case. If you choose it ignore or refuse to understand logical arguments there isn’t much I can do for you.

  45. #45 Tim Curtin
    July 14, 2006

    Krb, n fct y r blvr n th ncpct f s t dpt t whtvr wrmng m vntt (whch t th wrst nd f th PCC’s scnrs s nt mch vr th nxt yrs nd whch s mrgnl rltv t th nrml nnl rng f mn-mx glbl tmprtrs, g wth – t + n Sbr, n s mrgnl, nd nnl mn/mx -. t + hr n Cnbrr, r drnl -. t + ystrd, s -. t + hr wld cs n hrm). Tht mns y r nt blvr n vltn nd dptblt f mst spcs n th fc f wrmng, s ppsd t xtrm cld, thrfr y r crtnst. vr wndrd wh thr r mr spcs n tmprt nd trpcl rs thn n th ntrctc? vdntl yr DN lcks th gns fr mgntn nd ntllgnc.

  46. #46 30 yrs ago was cooling!
    February 6, 2007

    Does anyone interest to study these station records?