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Urban heat islands

The urban heat islands

One of the longest standing claims supposedly refuting climate change, surrounds the measurement of daily temperatures from the many thousand meteorological stations around the world. Discovering a thermometer sited beside an air-conditioning outlet became one such often quoted piece of evidence. "Climate data are unreliable, the urban heat-island effect has not been considered." The argument here is that cities generate heat and so any temperature measurements in a city are bound to be higher than those in the country, therefore including them in the analysis forces a warming trend on the whole data set. None of those who so argued ever stopped to ask if the climate scientists maybe knew about that and allowed for it, they just acted as though they had discovered something original.

This argument was spectacularly refuted in 2011. A group of physicists and statisticians at Berkeley University led by Professor Richard Muller had come to suspect that the temperature data had been corrupted. As skeptical true scientists do, they went out and checked it, from scratch. They discovered that the climate scientists* were absolutely right, and furthermore, if the urban heat islands were omitted from the data set, the difference in the global temperature rise was indistinguishable from using all the data.

Graph from Berkeley Earth at http://www.berkeleyearth.org

*The climate scientists from NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the USA (NOAA) and the Hadley Centre of the UK Met Office and the Climatic Research Institute of the University of East Anglia (Hadley/CRU).

The argument that a few suspect data negate the whole is fallacious - as the Berkeley Group demonstrated.