Global Warming Article
The Data Issue

Observer taking temperature readings to illustrate a global warming article on the data issue.

I wrote this global warming article in response to a comment posted by one of my Web site visitors who shared his view on the causes of global warming.

I concentrate in looking for evidence of global warming, as responsible for climate change, because the IPCC and half the scientific community say that global climate change stems from global warming (this time around) and that man is responsible for the warming (this time).

First, allow me clarify something about the data issue. I will give you links to reliable data at the end of this specialized global warming article.

To better understand global warming, its causes and how we measure them, I highly recommend two outstanding courses (on DVD)...

Data Acquisition And Measurement

When we measure the number of particles of pollutants in a given sample of air, we obtain an exact count (in ppm).

When we measure the temperature of the air at the surface of the earth (one meter above it actually), we obtain an exact figure. But, in this case, we are measuring the end effect of a large number of causes ... some of which are still unknown to us!

Side Note

The sun heats the earth. The earth, in turn, re-radiates some of that energy, effectively heating the atmosphere.

Water vapour in the atmosphere acts as a blanket, preventing some of the heat from escaping out to space. Low level pollution over industrialized areas, when in high enough concentration, and if left undisturbed, will act as an additional blanket and will contribute, locally, to warm the lower atmosphere.

Beyond the basics, climate change has to be examined in a multi-disciplinary climate (!). And the effort must be co-ordinated and self disciplined, if it is going to succeed in identifying the causes behind climate change.

But, when researchers try to find a relationship between ...

  • a given set of effects and
  • a given set of causes

... they are essentially dealing with "fuzzy sets"! Therefore, you should expect global warming statistics to be the result of "fuzzy logic"!

Side Note

In the classical notion of a "set", an element either belongs, or does not belong, to the set.

Elements of a "fuzzy set" can have ill defined, even dynamically changing relationships.

Further discussion on "fuzzy sets" and "fuzzy logic" is beyond the scope of this global warming article.

The scientific community has not yet reached that multi-disciplinary co-operative state.

Scientists cannot agree on the cause(s) behind climate change. Why? I wrote this global warming article to help you understand why. Please read on.

The Situation Is Dynamic

The atmosphere is dynamic, and it's interaction with the surface of the earth is dynamic, as well.

If we could isolate the atmosphere in a lab, and observe it under controlled conditions, we would perhaps manage to identify the cause(s). I repeat, perhaps. As an analogy, we have been examining cancerous cells under rigourously controlled conditions for years, ... but we have yet to identify the cause(s) ... and a cure for all types!!!

Who Supports Research?

Most scientific research gets done thanks to subsidies (governments, military, industrial, private ...).

Rare are the research scientists who will dare to say that the "earth is round". Those that do, either have nothing to lose, or do not care about the consequences of uttering such a statement.

After all, every one knows the earth is flat ... right? !;-)

Seriously, the climate change issue is being examined in much the same frame of mind.

About The Data

I promised you links to data, at the beginning of this global warming article. It's time to deliver.

Raw, un-interpreted, yet verified, atmospheric data is available to the public.

But, please note!
The data you will want to analyse will depend on
what you consider significant.

Much like many research scientists,
you will also be tempted
to measure more easily accessible phenomena!

If you limit your analysis to atmospheric (raw) data, you will be measuring the end effects of an unknown number of causes.

Many causes are know, but their individual relative importance in climate change is under active study ... and the source of heated debates between researchers!

Atmospheric (Raw) Data Sources

Here are a few links to atmospheric data. You can find them all by doing a search for "atmospheric data" on Google.

Multi-Disciplinary Data Sources

One of the best, in my opinion, is:

NASA's Global Change Master Directory

If you extend your analysis to include the following data, you will begin investigating the possible contributing causes behind climate change.

  • man made pollution data (from all possible sources)
  • natural pollutants data,
  • solar atmospheric data,
  • geological data,
  • oceanographic data,
  • forestry data,
  • agricultural data,
  • industrial activity data,
  • ... to name a few.

Trouble is, and contrary to meteorological data, the multi-disciplinary data enumerated above is

  • sparse,
  • non standardized for the most part,
  • hard to find and, above all,
  • hard to interpret in a global context.

I sincerely hope that this global warming article has been of help.

Claude Jollet B.Sc.A.
Meteorological Information Specialist

RETURN to Global Warming Section Page
from this Global Warming Article On The Data Issue