The "Art" of Weather
Art Horn, Meteorologist



Congress to NASA: Study Space Not Climate! 2/18/11

By Art Horn, Meteorologist

Members of Congress are asking something novel of NASA…to actually study space, not global warming. Representatives Bill Posey (R-FL), Sandy Adams (R-FL) and Rob Bishop (R-UT) and others have sent a letter to House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers (R-KY) and Commerce, Justice and Science Subcommittee Chairman Frank Wolf (R-VA) asking just that. In the February 7th 2011 letter they are asking for NASA to launch their efforts in a new direction, the direction it was intended to aim for, space! For many years NASA has been spending vast sums of money to study global warming. These efforts are already being undertaken at other federal agencies where such research is more appropriate. The letter asks that NASA re-focus on what it was created to do, maintain and develop our space program.  

The amount of money being spent to study global warming as a percentage of NASA’s budget is startling to say the least. This is especially eye opening when one considers this was never part of NASA’s original mission. In budget year 2010 NASA spent 7.5% or over 1 billion dollars to study global warming. On top of that the vast majority of federal stimulus money given to NASA in 2010 was spent on studying global warming. As a whole the US federal government spent $8.7 billion dollars on global warming studies last year! Many of the 16 separate agencies doing this work were performing redundant research. In a time of federal spending cuts that are sure to come, much of this redundancy can be eliminated saving billions of dollars. Certainly NASA would be one of the first to see funding drastically cut or eliminated entirely in this area. Perhaps some of that money could be re-directed towards NASA’s real mission, to explore space. What a novel idea!

The principal arm of global warming research for NASA is The Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS). Notice it says “Space Studies” not climate studies. The Institute is located in New York City and is on the campus of Columbia University. On the homepage of GISS the overview states “Research at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) emphasizes a broad study of global change.” There is no mention of studying space or anything to do with space exploration, how odd. The overview goes on to say “which is an interdisciplinary initiative addressing natural and man-made changes in our environment that occur on various time scales — from one-time forcings such as volcanic explosions, to seasonal and annual effects such as El Niño, and on up to the millennia of ice ages — and that affect the habitability of our planet.” Under the section titled “More Research News & Features” there are 7 different news items all dealing with global warming, none with space or manned space missions or anything to do with space exploration. It’s as if GISS has launched itself into an entirely different orbit unrelated to its name. Based on what is on the website NASA should re-name the institute The Goddard Institute for Climate Studies. This would be a much more accurate indication of what the Institute actually studies. I think that Dr. Robert Goddard would be surprised to learn how much interest he must have had in climate research instead of developing liquid fueled rockets.

The focus of the GISS research effort is mysterious enough but so is the trend of their long term temperature records. In the late 1990s GISS published a graph of the United States yearly average temperature from 1880 to 1998. From the graph it is clear that 1934 is nearly 1 degree Fahrenheit warmer than 1998, a very substantial amount. In fact the 4 warmest years were in order, 1934, 1921, 1931 and 1998. By 2009 an updated version of the graph shows some dramatic and remarkable changes. Now, 1934, 1921 and 1931 are all cooler than 1998! Somehow after the fact these three years that were in late 1990s warmer than 1998 have now all cooled and 1998 has somehow warmed, something that is physically impossible unless GISS invented time travel and either inadvertently or intentionally changed the past.

How could “climate change” of this nature and magnitude take place when the readings were already determined? Apparently the Goddard Institute for Space (Climate) Studies” found a way to “adjust” the temperatures of the past and present. The obvious result of the change is twofold. The warmest decade of last 130 years in the United States, the 1930s, has been “cooled” to make the current time period appear warmer. Another result of the change is that the years after 1970 have been adjusted warmer to make the slope of temperature rise since then appear steeper and more significant. So not only is GISS studying global warming they are actually creating it! I guess all those billions of dollars are enough to buy a few degrees here and there.

This interesting interpretation of temperature by GISS is not limited to the United States data. The differences between the GISS global average temperature and the University of Alabama, Huntsville (UAH) satellite derived average global temperature is revealing. Since 1998 the difference in the global temperature anomaly between GISS and UAH has increased to .72 degrees Fahrenheit with GISS being the warmer. This difference is 70% of all the global warming anomaly since 1850! Some of this difference is due to the fact that GISS uses the period from 1951 to 1980 as its base period to calculate its anomalies. The period from 1945 to1976 was a period of global cooling. By using this colder period as its base for calculating anomalies GISS gets larger warm temperature anomalies in its current evaluation of global temperature. The UAH uses that last 30 years as its base period.

As a consequence of these differences we get some conflicting trends. The UAH data shows a decline of average global temperature of .34 degrees Fahrenheit during January of 2011. On the other hand GISS found an increase of .27 degrees Fahrenheit during January 2011. From March of 2010 to January 2011, UAH data shows a substantial global temperature drop of 1.01 degrees Fahrenheit. GISS was showing a downward trend in global temperature of 1.03 degrees Fahrenheit from March 2010 to December 2010 but then reversed the trend in January. It was almost as if GISS had enough of this temperature drop and called a halt to it.

It appears that the climate in Washington is changing. We may see a significant drop in funding and a re-focusing of NASA’s mission back to where it belongs, in space. The Goddard Institute for Space (Climate) Studies may find that climate change does indeed have significant implications for the future. Those changes could be in a direction that GISS did not anticipate and that this time their attempts to change that direction may be out of their control.



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