New data on climate change from the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) project



In research that has been released to the media, though not yet peer-reviewed, a group of independent researchers has concluded that global warming is real. The research analyses temperature data from 15 sources and was intended to directly address scientific concerns raised by skeptics, including the urban heat island effect (UHI), temperature station quality and the risk of data selection bias. The urban heat effect was considered to be at the heart of the allegations of fraud around Climate-Gate. Comments from Australian and UK scientists are provided below.

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Prof Dave Griggs is CEO of ClimateWorks Australia & Director of the Monash Sustainability Institute, Melbourne

\”The paper confirms previous work that the observed warming of the Earth since the beginning of the 20th Century cannot be attributed to the urban heat island (UHI) effect. This comes as no surprise to climate scientists who take great care to take account of this effect in their work. It also confirms findings from other studies using very different methods. For example, looking at temperature trends on windy days and calm days also show no difference contrary to what you would expect from the urban heat island as the heat would build up more on calm days. So, hopefully this paper will help to put this urban (heat island) myth to bed.\”

Prof Neville Nicholls
is ARC Professorial Fellow in the School of Geography and Environmental Science at Monash University, Melbourne

“My first reaction on hearing the result of this study, namely that urbanization has NOT led to exaggerated estimates of global warming, was certainly not one of surprise! Those of us who have spent years checking the temperature data and using these to estimate global warming have always checked to ensure that this was not an issue. And even if you were worried about this possible issue, the fact that temperatures measured on small islands were showing similar warming, as do ocean temperatures and alpine snow and glacier shrinkage, and sea-ice retreat, should have put your mind at rest. Even satellite measurements of global temperature show similar warming to the land-based thermometers.

Only those most desperate to dismiss global warming have tried to blame urbanization for the observed warming. But I guess it is always good to have yet another group confirm decades of work by climate scientists. Perhaps this will finally put to rest the furphy that the warming is caused by urbanization. I won\’t hold my breath though. I guess those spreading misinformation about warming will just move on to another one of their furphies.”

Prof Sir John Beddington, Chief Scientific Adviser to HM Government, said: “Clearly this study needs peer review, but if correct it is pleasing to hear that this new analysis conforms with US work at NASA and NOAA and that of Phil Jones and his colleagues at the UK Hadley Center-UEA Climatic Research Unit. This work adds to the evidence about how climate change is happening.”

Prof Peter Cox, Professor of Climate System Dynamics, University of Exeter, said: \”These studies seem to confirm the global warming estimated from the existing datasets, which is pleasing but not exactly a surprize to those of us who know how carefully the existing datasets are put together. It is surprizing however that the authors believe that this news is so significant that they can\’t wait for peer-review, especially when their conclusions aren\’t exactly revolutionary.\”

Prof Robert Watson, Chief Scientific Adviser for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), said: “While I have not seen the paper, and recognise the results have not been peer reviewed, I am very encouraged that their preliminary analysis supports previous analyses of the UK Hadley Center-UEA Climatic Research Unit, and the US analyses of NASA Goddard Institute of Space Sciences, and NOAA. All previous analyses paid particular attention to removing the urban heat Island effect – this new work appears to show that they did this successfully”

Prof Phil Jones
, Director of the Climatic Research Unit, UEA, said: “I look forward to reading the finalised paper once it has been reviewed and published. These initial findings are very encouraging and echo our own results and our conclusion that the impact of urban heat islands on the overall global temperature is minimal.

Prof Chris Rapley, Professor of Climate Science at UCL, said: “I think it would be very unwise to comment until the peer review process has completed. If we have learned anything over the last couple of years it is surely that ensuring the rigour of the science is paramount – however good the \”scoop\” might seem.”

Prof Sir Brian Hoskins, Director, Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment (Imperial College London), said: “If and when such a study is peer-reviewed and published, hopefully we can then focus on the implications for the future of this warming rather than wrangling over whether the warming is really there.”

Prof Simon Tett, Head of Global Change Research Institute School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh, said: \”Earlier analysis, including that from the Climatic Research Unit, using a restricted set of temperature records, to avoid urban warming, show large scale warming. Comparison of that data with climate models leads to the conclusion that anthropogenic drivers are responsible for the late 20th century warming. The BEST study, assuming its results are similar after peer review, would not change that view.\”

Bob Ward, Policy and Communications Director, Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment (LSE), said:
\”This new study confirms what we already knew. The warming of the land areas of the Earth since the 19th century cannot be explained by the impact of cities growing to engulf rural weather stations. So-called \’sceptics\’ should now drop their thoroughly discredited claims that the increase in global average temperature could be attributed to the impact of growing cities, which create an urban heat island effect. This claim was always dubious as oceans also show the same level of warming as land areas. The warming of the Earth is unequivocal and, as every major scientific organisation in the world has pointed out, the overwhelming evidence indicates that this warming is being driven by the unarguable increase in greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. More broadly this study also proves once again how false it was for \’sceptics\’ to allege that the e-mails hacked from the University of East Anglia proved that the Climatic Research Unit\’s land temperature record had been doctored. Several independent inquiries, and now this study, have shown that allegation to be entirely untrue. It is now time for an apology from all those, including US Presidential hopeful Rick Perry, who have made false claims that the evidence for global warming has been faked by climate scientists