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Met Office to revise global warming data upwards

26.11.2010 14:58 Age: 7 yrs
Category: Oceans
By: Leon Clifford

Global warming has been underestimated due to a bias in measurements made by ocean buoys and ships, the UK Meteorological Office said on 25 November 2010.

This could mean that warming may have been as much as 0.03C per decade larger than previously thought, according to Met Office scientist Vicky Pope.

The increase in average global surface temperatures has been around 0.16C per decade between 1970 and 2000 but has ranged between 0.05C and 0.13C in the last ten years.  The trend figures for the period between 2000-2009 are based on data from three different source; one from NASA (0.13C), one from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (0.07C) and one from HadCRUT3 (0.05C) - the dataset managed by the Met Office and by the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit.

However, the increasing number of measurements of sea surface temperature (SST) from ocean buoys and the decreasing proportion of measurements from ships in the years since 1980 may have had the effect of depressing the recorded increase in temperatures. As a result, Met Office scientists have reviewed the whole sea surface temperature data set between 1850 and 2006 to take account of this bias. A paper has been submitted to the Journal of Geophysical Research which looks in more detail at all the biases in sea-surface temperature measurements from ships and buoys between 1850 and 2006 and reassesses the sea surface temperature records and their uncertainties in the light of this.  And since sea surface temperatures feed into the bigger picture this could lead to a reassessment of the global average surface temperature.

Satellites indicated there was a bias
Warm ships and cold buoys

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