Dan's Outside

I go, I see, I do, I walk, I think, I like…

Bad News for Climate Change Deniers

Although the preponderance of evidence clearly points to warming global temperatures in recent years, there are those who prefer not to accept the evidence. One thread that got a lot of coverage during the past few years was the claim that poor siting of weather stations used to acquire long term temperature data had biased the trend towards an imaginary increase in average temperatures.

It turns out that the deniers had a valid point about the siting of the measurement equipment. Quite a few stations were “poorly sited” – too close to buildings, near vents, next to parking lots, etc. All of these factors could throw off measurements and create faulty data.

So, were the deniers correct that the evidence of warming from these stations was the result of poor siting?

It turns out that they had it exactly backwards. Careful studies comparing the results from the poorly sited stations to the results from properly sited stations show that the poorly sited stations were actually biased to produce incorrectly COOLER readings than the correctly sited stations. To state it another way, the deniers were correct in noting that measurement sites were not optimally placed but when the biases from incorrect sites are accounted for it turns out that the rising temperature trend is confirmed… and perhaps slightly more significant than scientists first believed.

Not that any of this will given the deniers a moments pause…

January 25, 2010 Posted by | Commentary, Environment | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Feel like you are hiking around in circles? Maybe you are!

The New York times reports on a study concerning how people do (or don’t…) find their way in varying conditions. It turns out that in some situations, “wandering around in circles” more or less accurately describes what folks will do when they get lost, at least if there aren’t sufficient visual cues to help them keep a straight line.

Apparently we all have a tendency to veer. (I once tested this when I was out on the Racetrack at Death Valley. Since there is little in the way of obstacles – save an occasional toe-whacking rock! – I tried closing my eyes and walking a straight line on the playa at night. After 100 steps or so I invariably, well, varied and ended up heading slightly off to the side.)

August 20, 2009 Posted by | Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Feel like you are hiking around in circles? Maybe you are!


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