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Monday, December 29, 2014

European temperature at WUWT - Finland, the UK, teleconnections and more

Sou | 12:41 AM Go to the first of 28 comments. Add a comment

I started this article before the hols and although it's a bit stale now, it's a good example of how deniers are nothing if not inconsistent. So here it is.

In another sign that WUWT doesn't know its ups from its downs, whether it's warming or cooling, there were two articles that pretty well contradicted each other.

  • In the first article, Anthony Watts reckons that all the thermometers in Finland must be wrong because they show a "step change" in temperature from the late 1980s.
  • In the second article, Paul Homewood talks about the "sharp rise" in UK temperatures from the 1980s as something that "everyone knows".

The UK isn't really all that far from Finland, and the way the wind blows I expect they'd both often be influenced by the same weather patterns - though Finland can get quite a bit colder. So why would Anthony figure that Finland can't be getting any warmer while he posts an article on the very next day assuming that "everyone knows" that the UK has got a lot warmer?

Source: Google Maps

WUWT Claim: All the thermometers in Finland are broken

First up, Anthony Watts wrote an article (archived here) that reminded me of his "airport UHI disease" article from last year. His contention was that Finland can't be getting warmer because all the thermometers around Finland registered a "jump" - so they all had to be wrong.

What he actually wrote was this:
Claim: Average temperature in Finland has risen by more than two degrees
I looked at a number of Finnish weather stations in the GISTEMP database, and many of them suffer from step changes like the one below and/or data gaps, so I don’t put much stock in the claim as being anything more than an observational artifact that they have not dealt with effectively.

Here is the "one below" that Anthony showed:


What Anthony didn't do was put up any other charts to show whether his "step change" meant that particular record was the result of a station move or similar. Whether it should have been adjusted in line with surrounding stations. (Remember Rutherglen?)

Feeling inquisitive, I decided to look for myself. I've gone one further than Anthony did and I've put together some charts from GISS that go up to around 2012 or beyond - from Finland and neighbouring regions (some from Russia). I got them from GISTemp station selector using Anthony's first link here as well as here. Click to enlarge it, as always.

Data source: GISTemp here and here

I skipped over stations where the series was too short, finished too soon or the gaps were too large. Otherwise I just went down the list until I got tired of it. You can see for yourself the result. It's got a lot hotter up in Finland. It's not just one or two stations with a "step change". All the stations show a marked rise in temperature.

Now let's compare Finland with other countries - including its near neighbours and those a bit further afield.

Source: Berkeley Earth

Well, well, well. Wouldn't you know it. They've all got quite a bit hotter in recent years - particularly so since the 1980s.

I didn't need to go to that trouble because the paper that Anthony scoffed at did a much more thorough job of it all. What the scientists from the Finnish Meteorological Institute and the University of Eastern Finland did was what looked to be a rigorous analysis using observations, statistical analysis and modeling. What they found was:
The Finnish temperature time series exhibits a statistically significant trend, which is consistent with the human-induced global warming. Our analysis shows that the mean temperature has risen by a total of 2.3 ± 0.4 °C (95 % probability limits) during the years 1847–2013, which amounts to 0.14 °C/decade. ...The observed warming in Finland is almost twice as high as the global temperature increase (0.74 C/100 years).

The paper also points to other indicators of warming:
Impacts of long-term cold season and spring warming have been documented e.g. in later freeze-up and earlier ice break-up in Finnish lakes (Korhonen 2006) and advancement in the timing of leaf bud burst and flowering of native deciduous trees growing in Finland (Linkosalo et al. 2009). Although warming during the growing season months has been small in centigrade it has resulted in attributable growth in growth of boreal forests in Finland in addition to other drivers (forest management, nitrogen deposition, CO2 concentration) since the 1960s (Kauppi et al. 2014).  

There's another recent paper from the Royal Meteorological Society's International Journal of Climatology which looked at the period from 1961 to 2011. It found:
...that mean annual SAT in Finland increased (p<0.05) by 0.4±0.2 ∘C per decade during the study period and that the SAT [surface air temperature] was significantly (ρ=0.58, p<0.05) positively correlated with the Arctic Oscillation (AO) index.

So over the fifty years from 1961 to 2011, the temperature in Finland rose by about 2°C. Below is the BEST chart for Finland on its own so you can see what's happened there.

Source: Berkeley Earth
 The temperature dropped a bit after that Arctic warm spell in the 1930s. It has shot up again, with a vengeance, from the 1980s so that now it's reaching record highs.

A tale of three crook compasses

I mentioned to my neighbour what Anthony had written, and he proceeded to tell me a tale about a fishing buddy friend of his. He told me how his friend bought four compasses, and asked me did I know why? I couldn't guess. So he told me.

His friend, we'll call him Fat Tony to preserve his anonymity and because I've forgotten his name, was convinced that his compass was playing up. That it wasn't pointing to North. So he bought another one, and complained to his wife that the second one didn't work either. So he bought a third compass. Well, blow me down. The third compass was just as shonky as the other two.

He thought to himself "this is a dreadful state of affairs". But he really needed a good compass for his boat. So he dished out for a fourth one. Finally he caved in and decided that it wasn't the compasses that were playing up after all. They were all pointing North in the same direction. It was he who had it wrong, not the compasses.

P'raps Anthony Watts didn't get as far as the fourth chart :(

Let them buy air-conditioners

Oh, and in his own version of "let them eat cake", Anthony used his article as an excuse to flog his silly comment that managed to get published - saying people can afford to buy air conditioners when the heat gets too bad. Or something like that.  I suppose because Stockholm isn't all that far from Finland.

Why has it got so much warmer in the UK?

Now the odd thing about all this is that just two articles later WUWT was telling everyone how much hotter it's got in Britain. Not a mention of Anthony's "step change". There was an article by Paul Homewood (archived here). He decided it got a lot hotter in England because of the fact that there are more days of sunshine than there used to be.

That's a little bit more sensible that what Anthony Watts wrote. At least Paul Homewood didn't try to claim that all the thermometers in the UK are wrong. He wrote:
The sharp rise in UK temperatures, which effectively began in the 1980’s, is widely known about, but, (and I may be wrong here), has never been satisfactorily explained. Indeed, I am not sure anybody from the Met Office, Hadley Centre, etc has ever seriously attempted to explain it.
Usually, whenever it is mentioned, it is brushed aside as “climate change”. I have always thought this to be nonsense, as, whatever our views of global warming theory, CO2 does not possess the magical properties that enable it to suddenly raise temperatures in such a way, thereafter followed by a decade long pause. Theory tells us that, as CO2 increases in the atmosphere, temperatures should rise gradually and steadily. 

Whatever the merits or otherwise of what he wrote in the first part, that last sentence of his is just plain wrong. It's a useful denier meme that "temperatures should rise gradually and steadily" because it allows deniers like Paul Homewood to claim, every time there's a jump or a dip in global surface temperatures, that the greenhouse effect isn't "real".

What he's leaving out of the equation is the system as a whole. More than 90% of the energy that's accumulating on earth as CO2 increases, is being shored up in the oceans.

Total Heat Content
Data Source: SkepticalScience (from Nuccitelli et al 2012)

Paul is also, in that one sentence, demonstrating he doesn't accept internal variation and weather. When he misrepresents the "theory", he is rejecting the impact of ENSO events, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and the Inter-decadal Pacific Oscillation and all the other medium and long term exchanges of heat between the ocean and the atmosphere and the land, which have an impact on global surface temperatures.

Has there been an increase in sunshine hours in the UK? Yes, there has. Paul is correct in that regard. Here is an animated chart I put together from the UK Met Office charts, on which Paul based his article. Click to enlarge, as always. And watch out. The temperature spans the period from 1910 to the present, while sunshine hours span the period from 1929 to the present - so you'll have to mentally stretch the top chart to the left a little.

Temperature and Sunshine Hours
Source: UK Met Office

It strikes me that Paul is making a leap from correlation to causation.  Has the changing climate resulted in both more sunshine hours as well as warmer temperatures? Does this mean that it is the fact of more sunshine and fewer clouds that has caused the rise in temperature. or is it that the rise in temperature has meant there are fewer clouds? Or are they independent? Is it that the climate is changing and bringing more sunshine as well as a rise in temperature? Could a few extra sunshine hours really raise surface temperature as much as it has?

If you go to the charts you will see, for example, that in summertime, there has been a rise in temperature of almost 1°C since 1930, with sunshine hours fairly steady at around 510 hours. In autumn, the temperature looks to have risen even higher with about 30 hours more sunshine.  In winter the sunshine hours have fluctuated, and there are now about 15 more hours of sunshine than in the early part of last century, while the mean winter temperature hasn't changed much. In spring the temperature has risen by about 1°C, while sunshine hours have gone up by about 50.

In Paul's argument then, sunshine hours affect mean temperature in autumn more than they affect it in spring, and sunshine hours don't affect summer or winter temperature at all. Which suggests to me that sunshine hours don't actually have much impact on surface temperature in the UK.

Paul was only commenting on the changes from the 1980s onwards. He says it has never been satisfactorily explained. That's in part because he's not satisfied with the scientific explanation of global warming - and that in turn is because he doesn't know what the scientific explanation of global warming is - as I said before. If he took the time to learn about the greenhouse effect and then spent a bit of time learning about weather and climate more broadly, he'd not be writing the sort of stuff he writes. But then he'd have to find another outlet - because his articles would no longer fit the criteria for "guest essays" at WUWT.

I did a tiny bit of investigation to see whether or not Paul's claim was accurate or not. That is, his claim that: "The sharp rise in UK temperatures, which effectively began in the 1980’s ... has never been satisfactorily explained". I found quite a lot of research papers that help shed some light on the subject. I even found a paper discussing the impact of the North Atlantic Oscillation on sunshine hours in winter in the UK. The paper includes as highlights the following:
  • 35% of UK interannual winter irradiance covaries with DJF Winter NAO Index (WiNAOI).
  • When WiNAOI is positive (negative), irradiance anomaly is higher in East (West) UK.
  • NAO is known to be scarcely predictable, but the East–West seesaw is a stable feature.
  • Combining East/West power output reduces year-to-year variability of PV generation.
  • Considering NAO-irradiance relation can lower uncertainty on UK energy forecasting.

A short side track

Many people will have hold of the idea that the UK is warmer than it should be (given its latitude) because of the Gulf Stream. But that's not the whole story.  It appears that the whole story has yet to be told. There are competing (and to some extent complementary) explanations as described in this article by Stephen Riser and Susan Lozier in Scientific American.  Whatever detailed explanation (or composite explanations) is the best one, the weather in the UK is largely controlled by the North Atlantic currents and the winds - the Gulf Stream and the North Atlantic Drift. This raises the question of the impact of the North Atlantic Oscillation on surface temperatures in the UK and Europe.

There is also the polar jet stream, as shown in this NASA video:

Courtesy: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center - Meandering around the planet like a rollicking roller coaster in the sky, the Northern Hemisphere's polar jet stream is a fast-moving belt of westerly winds that traverses the lower layers of the atmosphere. The jet is created by the convergence of cold air masses descending from the Arctic and rising warm air from the tropics. Deep troughs and steep ridges emerge as the denser cold air sinks and deflects warm air regions north, giving the jet stream its wavy appearance. This pattern propagates across the mid-latitudes of North America, Europe and Asia, as pockets of cold air sporadically creep down from the Arctic—creating contrasting waves and flows that accelerate eastward due to Earth's rotation. The visualization below uses weather and climate observations from NASA's MERRA dataset to model 30 days of the jet stream's whirling journey over North America.

The North Atlantic Oscillation, planetary waves and teleconnections

Paul probably didn't know where to look for the research he said he thought didn't exist. I chose Google Scholar and found this 2010 paper, for example, by James Hurrell and Clara Deser. It's worth reading if only to get an appreciation of some of the terms used in meteorology - like planetary waves and teleconnections. If you're not an expert (I'm not), you may also learn more about "the most prominent teleconnections over the NH [Northern Hemisphere] ... the NAO [North Atlantic Oscillation] and the Pacific-North American (PNA) patterns."

Here are a couple of extracts - James Hurrell and Clara Deser write:
The positive phase of the NAO is associated with stronger-than-average surface westerlies across the middle latitudes of the Atlantic onto Europe, with anomalous southerly flow over the eastern U.S. and anomalous northerly flow across the Canadian Arctic and the Mediterranean...
...The NAO exerts a dominant influence on wintertime temperatures across much of the NH. Surface air temperature and SST across wide regions of the North Atlantic Ocean, North America, the Arctic, Eurasia and the Mediterranean are significantly correlated with NAO variability. ...

Long term trends aren't caused by the NAO (or sunshine)

I got a bit sidetracked - hope you don't mind. The thing is, the NAO can and does affect weather in the UK. For example, the UK Met Office linked the very cold spring of 2013 with the negative phase of the NAO. Let me qualify that. The spring was very cold by comparison with recent springs, since global warming kicked in. However the NAO isn't what is causing UK temperatures to rise. For one thing the NAO index just goes up and down. It doesn't keep on going up and up and up, like the temperature has been doing in recent decades. (For another thing, the whole concept seems to be still subject to definition.) What I see is that the temperature rise in the UK mirrors the rise in most locations on earth - and is consistent with the overall warming of earth because of the rise in greenhouse gases.

Back to the 1980s

I've moved a bit away from the questions Paul raised. He was focused on the temperature rise in the UK since the 1980s. I don't have the data for the whole of the UK but there is data for central England. I thought it might be interesting to compare that with what has happened globally. I've not tried to do anything fancy with the data. All I've done is computed an anomaly from the 1951 to 1980 mean for HadCET so I could align it with that of GISTemp, and plotted them on the same chart. I added linear trend lines for the period since 1980 - which was the time period that Paul Homewood was interested in.

Temperature anomaly for the whole world and for central England, with the linear trend from 1980 to the present.
Data sources: Hadley Centre UK and NASA GISS

As you know, I'll be the first to point out that an island in the North Atlantic isn't the whole world. And a region in the middle of that island less so. However, as you can see from the above, the temperature trend of the centre of an island in the North Atlantic, while having much greater variability (as would be expected), is not at odds with the trend in the surface temperature anomaly for the world as a whole.

The world as a whole is heating up because of the extra greenhouse gases. It's not beyond the realms of possibility that those same greenhouse gases are having an impact in the UK. What do you think?

From the WUWT comments

I've meandered enough - if you've got this far I commend you for your patience. It's taking me a while to get back into the swing of writing, after the Christmas break, so this article is a bit too long and isn't as cohesive as I'd like. Things will improve. As a reward (?) for sticking with it, here are some comments from readers at WUWT.

From Anthony's "claim" article on Finland

Most people didn't go along with Anthony Watts when he thought Finland warming was a furphy. For example, jorgekafkazar appears to accept that the temperature in Finland has risen.
December 22, 2014 at 4:25 pm
Big ���� deal. Witch’s tit + 2° = big improvement.

johnmarshall probably reckons that it's all those warm-blooded reindeer in remote Lapland that are spreading UHI disease
December 23, 2014 at 2:46 am
This incease could be UHI in action.

Travis Casey cries - shame, models - and thinks it a good thing that winter is getting warmer. In fact, while there are some pluses there are also minuses with a warmer winter.
December 22, 2014 at 4:34 pm
Why was a model even in the equation? You have data, analyze it. There should be dancing in the streets because the biggest increases have been in the Winter!

Tom Harley decides that the people of Finland have been missing something all these years. I don't know if the people of Finland would agree. They probably like Finland just the way it is.
December 22, 2014 at 4:42 pm
Finland could do with a real dose of warming, give them an extra 10 degrees higher, life would be so much more enjoyable.

Mac the Knife decides to go to Greenland instead of Finland - and in doing so confuses Greenland warming with global warming.
December 22, 2014 at 8:07 pm
As the norse graves in Greenland slowly thaw out of the permafrost now, we learn about previous catastrophic man made global warming/climate change/climate weirding.
The ‘grand scheme of things’ is a foothold civilization was achieved because of prior causes of ‘catastrophic global warming’ and it was catastrophic global cooling that forced that tentatively thriving agrarian population to get frozen out.

Whereas poor old gullible Patrick has been very confused by wacky denier memes about the hockey stick. (There were way more than 12 trees, and way more than trees, used in Mann, Bradley and Hughes (1998))
December 23, 2014 at 12:53 am
But but but Mann used a dataset of proxy data from 12 trees, in particular YAD061, from a small area of land and claimed it proved man was changing the climate. And the IPCC, Govn’t and the media fell for it!

Wayne Delbeke has to be a Poe, surely. It's not got warmer, he shouts, it's got LESS COLD.
December 22, 2014 at 5:18 pm
I would be willing to wager that, like so many other “averages” that Finland has not gotten 2 degrees C warmer but 2 degrees LESS COLD. Many areas show NO trend in maximum or maximum mean temperatures; but we see less cold minimum mean temperatures resulting in a rising trend in the average while all that has happened is less cold. But that has been commented on hear many times before. The problem with averages. Like average rainfall, the average doesn’t actually tell you about seasonality and many other factors in climate.

From the sunshine article by Paul Homewood

Ulric Lyons tosses in ideas about the Arctic Oscillation and the North Atlantic Oscillation - I guess he doesn't understand the meaning of the word "oscillate".
December 23, 2014 at 6:18 am
Yes a strong positive shift in the AO/NAO.

johnmarshall, for a change, seems to accept that it's warming.
December 24, 2014 at 2:50 am
Both countries [Ireland and the UK] are surrounded by water and recently surface waters have warmed, despite deeper waters cooling, so warmer sea temperatures could be to blame.

Simon Filiatrault (@SimonFili) is an "anything but CO2" kind of denier.
December 23, 2014 at 5:22 am
Did UHI and bad station siting been considered? Garbage in/out? How does this trend look if looking at “Good” stations only. 
Peter_S raises the topic of pollution, which has vastly improved since the 1950s.
December 23, 2014 at 6:03 am
I remember the air pollution in Northern towns in the middle 50s. On some days it was unbreathable, I felt like I was choking. Places like Bolton and Bury, and of course Manchester were awful, even at 3pm in spring or autumn, it was like night. The problem was that all house heating was through coal fires, while all factories, and there were many of them, were driven by coal fired steam engines. All those chimneys belched out huge amounts of smoke. The towns were in narrow valleys, in the Pennines, which tended to trap the smoke, while the houses were small and closely packed in. Thrifty households, and factory managers, used the cheapest, high polluting coal; the better stuff went for export or for ships boilers. We (the U.K.) had a balance of payments surplus; but at what cost to the health of the working population? Most men did not reach pension age (65) while many women lived barely beyond it.

Oh, that's enough isn't it. The "anything but CO2" brigade is out in force, as usual.  Although locally and on short time scales, weather is influenced by many factors - over the long term and globally, the rise in temperature is mainly down to the increase in carbon dioxide.

S. Mikkonen, M. Laine, H. M. Mäkelä, H. Gregow, H. Tuomenvirta, M. Lahtinen and A. Laaksonen. "Trends in the average temperature in Finland, 1847–2013." Stochastic Environmental Research and Risk Assessment (2014). doi: 10.1007/s00477-014-0992-2 (open access)

Irannezhad, M., D. Chen, and B. Kløve. "Interannual variations and trends in surface air temperature in Finland in relation to atmospheric circulation patterns, 1961–2011." International Journal of Climatology (2014). DOI: 10.1002/joc.4193 (pdf avail here)

Hurrell, James W., and Clara Deser. "North Atlantic climate variability: the role of the North Atlantic Oscillation." Journal of Marine Systems 79, no. 3 (2010): 231-244.  doi:10.1016/j.jmarsys.2009.11.002 (open access)

Colantuono, Giuseppe, Yimin Wang, Edward Hanna, and Robert Erdélyi. "Signature of the North Atlantic Oscillation on British solar radiation availability and PV potential: The winter zonal seesaw." Solar Energy 107 (2014): 210-219.  doi:10.1016/j.solener.2014.05.045 (subs required)


  1. WUWT seems to respond to recent articles doing the rounds on the internet. There have been some on Finland due to that study, plus the largish 2014 spike in the Hadley Central England temperature record has not gone unnoticed.

    Is it too paranoid to think some puppet-master is making a list of these climate change article, then sending out instructions to their winged-monkeys to write articles counteracting them?

    1. Harry, I left off the 2014 mean temp in the HadCET data because it was such a huge anomaly, I figured I'd better wait for the December number to come in. It's bound to raise a protest.

      Whether there is any organisation in denialist ranks - well the denier blogs do circulate the same stories and always have. WUWT is often just another noticeboard, regurgitating articles from other denier blogs or sent out by disinformation lobby groups.

      It does seem to me there is a hierarchy of sorts among science deniers (WUWT is not anywhere near the top), but they don't seem all that well organised to my way of thinking. I suspect various disinformation churner-outers follow fashion and latch onto whatever story they think will gain traction.

      They are finding it mighty hard to keep on top of climate change these days, and will find it gets harder and harder as time goes by. A few years back I suppose some otherwise normal people were hoodwinked. I don't know if that's still the case. Most deniers these days would be classed as conspiracy theorists of the wacky kind by anyone who's been watching the weather change.

    2. HadCET - I have seen estimates of 1.5-2.0C above the 1961-1990 baseline for 2014.

      Yes probably prudent to wait for the final number in case it gets revised. Although it could be the "lazy Jetstream" effect some are talking about.

    3. That sounds about right, Harry. On the data I got - to November 2014, the annual mean is 2.0C above the 1951-1980 average and 1.9C above the 1961-1990 average. Huge! If that holds, it will beat the previous record high year (2011) by a whopping 0.7C. That's in the entire record going back to 1659.

    4. Oops - correct that - the previous record was 2006, at 1.4C above the 1951-1980 mean - so it's 0.6C above, not 0.7C. Still a huge amount.

    5. The CET time series is very interesting because it is so long, but it is representative for a very small region, not much more than a station. Thus you can easily get large outliers to any side. I would not emphasis that too much.

    6. That is very true, Victor. Just the same, it looks very impressive on a chart. If the average *annual* temperature where I live was more than half a degree Celsius above the highest previous recorded for a year, I would be thinking it was quite a hot year. One might even be tempted to say "unprecedented" :) - for my town.

      (I just looked up Melbourne, and the hottest year on record was 2007, which was hotter than the previous hottest (2005) by 0.4C. I didn't look to see if any previous record was more than 0.5C above any prior, but surely it would be unusual for that to occur - except maybe in the Arctic. I dunno.)

    7. Yes, it is quite a jump. Sounds like a nice analysis. Just for the fun of it, no idea what you would learn from it.

    8. The CET for 2014 is certainly going to be a record, but it's not going to be as big a jump as 0.6C.

      The anomaly to the end of November was 1.54C, and up to the 27th December is provisionally 1.5C and will probably finish a little below this once the final figures are in. The 2006 anomaly was 1.36C, so its probably going to beat the record by around 0.1C. (All figures relative to the 1961 - 1990 average).

      The current provisional figures can be seen here.

    9. Thanks, SJW. December will bring it back to a more reasonable record high temperature :)

  2. Well I am even more baffled. How long is it since the Wutters were using the Central England Temperature record to 'prove' not only the UK but the entire planet was not warming?

    And why would they be calling for adjustments to the Finnish temperature data? They prefer their data raw and unadjusted don't they?

    Oh but one thing you wrote is doubtful: any improvement in UK air quality since the 1950s has now vanished. The pollution from motor traffic has replaced that from industry and the UK fails to meet EU laws on air quality.

    1. Is that right, Millicent. I must admit I was flabbergasted by the number of cars in England when I was there a few years ago - compared to the 1970s, which was the previous time I visited. It seemed as if it changed from one car per 1000 households to 10 cars per household :) (Don't quote me!)

      The motorways were chock-a-block bumper to bumper even on the weekend - and way out in the countryside.

    2. Its about to get a whole lot worse too: the Tories (thats the party of corporate shills masquerading as right wingers in the UK) have announced a new program of road building that is expected to increase road traffic and thereby increase pollution further.

      "Many, many government reports have said exactly the same thing – it encourages more traffic, it causes air pollution and of course it causes severe loss to the countryside.”

      And to add to that, the clueless numpties that make up the greater part of the UK population are trashing all that nasty green vegetation in their gardens that (apart from lung tissue) soaks up air pollution and also alleviates flooding.

      "More than half of respondents said the main reason for paving over a garden is to create a patio, while nearly a third said it was to build a parking space. Thirty per cent wanted to cut garden maintenance."

      The UK really is a no hope zone.

    3. Millicent

      You missed the cherry on the cake. The government is still quietly trying to get rid of the air quality monitoring network. To paraphrase Uncle Stalin: no data, no problem.

  3. One should probably interpret the sun shine during data with some care. It has extremely strong non-climatic changes. In the past it was measured using a glass ball, which burned a piece of paper when the sun shines. One cloud hole every 15 minutes is sufficient to give the same impression as 15 minutes of just sun on such a piece of paper. Nowadays the solar radiation is measured directly, often a higher temporal resolutions and some threshold is set, that is interpreted as sunny. Furthermore, any change in the horizon (buildings, vegetation and thus relocations) are important.

    Furthermore it is difficult to remove non-climatic changes (homogenized) from this data because sun shine duration varies strongly from station to station (more than temperature) and there are normally less stations. Thus comparing with neighboring stations is more difficult. I do not know what the situation is in the UK, but sun shine duration is not high on the priority list and unfortunately often not homogenized.

    1. Thanks for that insight, Victor.

      While we're on the subject, I remember being amused when in the UK, the weather announcers talked of it being "partly sunny". Here we would never get that. Sunshine is assumed as the norm, but it may be "partly cloudy" or even "overcast" :D

    2. :) It is really surprising that living in such a hot climate, you have such a government. At least for human comfort a degree more in Finland is more pleasant than in Australia.

      Having grown up in the same UK climate, I would say the order is: sunny, partly cloudy (some clouds in a sunny sky), partly sunny (some holes in the clouds), cloudy.

    3. In the UK we also get 'sunny spells', which sounds so much nicer than 'mostly dull' :)

    4. Victor

      You are correct with regards to sun shine recorders. I live on the South Coast of England near a minor sea side resort which has friendly competition with a much larger resort on the coast a few miles away.

      Around 8 or 10 years ago the larger resort suddenly became very much sunnier than ours.

      It turned out they had invested in the latest sunshine recorders so information could be sent digitally to the Met Office. Our own resort stuck with the old fashioned type.

      It seems the new type was very much more sensitive than the old one and this manifested itself most specifically when we had a day which the Met Office euphemistically called 'bright.'

      The British probably have as many words for degrees of cloudiness as the Inuit are supposed to have for snow,

      In this case 'bright' meant that the sky was overcast, but the position of the sun could be discerned, making that portion of the sky bright but not sunny.(we have many 'bright' days)

      So on a bright day our resort might measure nothing more than an hour of sunlight when the sun was strongest, whereas our neighbouring resorts equipment read it as up to 8 hours of sunshine.

      I am sure it was eventually noticed and what effect, if any, changes of equipment had on official UK sunshine hours I don't know, but more sunshine is a double edged sword in the UK.

      In winter a sunny day is often cold and without clouds the nights are invariably frosty. Even in summer a warm sunny day is likely to end up as a pretty cool night.

      So I'm not sure if more sun hours is happening (I suspect they are) but if so whether that results in net warming, net cooling or stasis.


    5. Tonyb, good point. It is hard to study running animations, but the plot of Sou above suggests that the increase in sun shine was especially in winter and spring. Thus one may expect a cooling, rather than a warming.

      One should remember that even when a sunny winter day feels warm to a human due to the sun, the thermometer measures the air temperature and is therefore shielded from the sun.

  4. Re compasses: I got stuck in fog once in the Mourne mountains in Ireland. Having to rely on map and compass, I convinced myself that the way I wanted to go was preferable to the way my compass said I should go.

    I even convinced myself, without evidence, that my compass was reading 180 degrees false, probably because of iron deposits in the exposed granite that was all around me.... pretty dum. I was quite young.

    Luckily the clouds lifted just long enough for me to see the sheer drop and the reservoir laid out before me - exactly where the map and compass said they ought to be. We don't have to be slaves to instruments, but we're very unwise to just ignore them.

  5. If you are flying a basic light aircraft and your altimeter is constant, your engine revs are constant for a fixed throttle setting and your heading is constant then you are flying straight and level. Even in a cloud!
    There are other instruments such as the artificial horizon and this also should tell you that you are straight and level. There is also a rate of decent meter and a slip meter .
    The trick is to cross correlate all these instruments when you fly in cloud to know what is happening.
    When you turn or descend or climb or a combination of any. This is where it gets very tricky.
    Most loss of control in non visual conditions is when the pilot fails to cross correlate ALL instruments. Relying on only one instrument can send the aircraft into a deadly spiral decent.
    Our planet Earth has a few natural instruments to tell us what it is doing.
    Here are a few.
    Melting Arctic sea ice.
    Loss of ice from Greenland and Antarctica.
    Receding glaciers.
    I can go on and on.


    1. I deliberately left out the airspeed indicator. This is not important as long as the other instruments are indicating as I said. The airspeed will look after itself if all other control settings are correct.

      When you have lost control the airspeed will increase markedly. Airspeed is not as important as rate of descent. When you hit the hard deck at a high rate of vertical descent you will be dead!

      At this stage a denialist will turn up to tell me I don't know nuffin about flying.


    2. Indeed - the consilience of evidence from multiple instruments is the most reliable indication of what the airplane is doing. Just as with climate science. Cherry-picking a single indicator and ignoring the rest is a dangerous and sometimes fatal error, which can lead you to fly into the cumulo-granite clouds.

  6. Some of us in Holland began calling it 'The New Climate' by the beginning of this century, variously considered to have begun in either April or October 1987. This 'step' was noticed by us too.
    By 2006 a rise over the step, 2006 and 2007 the hottest years in our record. Until, of course, 2014, which is obliterating 2006 and 2007.

  7. Paul "I may be wrong here" Homewood. He named himself!

  8. Does Homewood think that sunshine hours have increased pre-dawn, or did I miss the part where he explained the rise in minimum temperatures?


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