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IQ Weather Blog: How To Avoid Being Fooled

One thing IQ Weather focuses on is correctly interpreting data, historical context, and understanding when you are only getting part of the story.

Over the summer months, there was a focus on the hot weather over the western United States, the wildfires, and dry weather.  In recent weeks, there has been a focus on hurricanes…since it’s hurricane season. There are constant claims that we are living in unprecedented times from a climate perspective, and people use snippets of science reports to back up these claims.

The truth is that all of the things we heard about this past year have happened in the past. Both weather, and climate are cyclical.  The most important climate cycles are tied to the energy received by the sun…and the changes in that energy over time.  There are some solar cycles that will last up to 100,000 years. A 30-year average means nothing in the grand scheme of things.

Remember, satellite data only goes back to 1979…and any claims about the planet being the hottest on record are using these records to make those claims. Call us crazy, but the Earth has been around a lot longer than 42 years!

Plus, the methods employed to measure temperature have changed over time as technology has changes. And, the location of weather stations taking temperatures have changed as well. Some rural stations have been engulfed by more urbanization as cities grew. Many cold weather stations are no longer up and running, and this skews the overall global temperature averages warmer. Plus, it’s impossible to properly calibrate new technology to fit into the older scheme of temperature data.

All of these things affect temperature records, and should be considered when you work with temperature data.

In just the past few days, we found out that Antarctica has had a very severe winter. The average temperature was -78°F!  An excerpt from the story points out the differences in how temperatures are taken:

“Extraordinarily cold weather continues to grip the Antarctic Plateau. Maximiliano Herrera, a climatologist who monitors world weather extremes, tweeted that temperature at Russia’s Vostok Station sunk to minus-110.9 degrees (minus-79.4 Celsius) on Thursday (Sept. 30), which was just one degree (0.6 Celsius) from the world’s lowest temperature on record during October.

The current temperatures are still some distance from the coldest ever observed on the continent. In 1983, Vostok plummeted to minus-129 degrees (minus-89.6 Celsius). Satellites have detected temperatures as low as minus-144 degrees (minus-98 Celsius).”

Satellites now detect temperatures that previously were undetectable using conventional methods before satellite temperature profiles were available!  We cannot assume temperatures at -144°F have never been seen before…we just haven’t measured them using older methods.

Modern technology provides us with improving ways to measure our planet. The key is not to get caught up in the hype that it has all the answers…or that only modern records can tell us what we need to know.

Look for other sources of data that give you a complete picture of the story! For years we have heard that the polar ice caps would be gone by now.  Yet, they are still there and growing in size!

In other words, be very skeptical of climate related headlines.  Use critical thinking skills to look for ways that you are being misled!

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