Regional Analysis of 2011. Part 1.

Now that 2011 is over it is time to start looking closer look at the year.  I am going to start off at the regional level.  That is the area that I happen to live in.  Most places in the world will have experienced a different year climate-wise than the one I did, but the type of analysis that I am going to provide for my region can be done by anyone with enough patience to find, collect and then analyze the data.

It is worth noting that what people experience locally plays a big role in their perception of the climate.  Normal weather is quickly forgotten in our busy lives, but unusual weather tends to be remembered far longer.  I have three fundamental perceptions about how the weather was in 2011 for where I lived.  Spring was colder and longer than normal.  The November-December period was very dry and finally the late summer / early fall was hotter than it should have been.  Only two of these will show up in the temperature records of the year, but if I had to summarize the year without any data, this is what I would say.

Here are the daily temperature anomaly for Boise, Idaho in 2011.

The Inconvenient Skeptic

Daily Temperature Anomaly for Boise, Idaho.

It shows that the March-July period experienced more negative anomaly, hence my impression of a cold spring.  It also shows August-September as positive anomaly which also generally fits.  Overall for the year, the temperature anomaly for Boise was:

2011 Anomaly:  -0.07 °C

How does this fit into my perception of the weather for the year?  To be honest it doesn’t fit in at all.  All it tells me is that 2011 was slightly below average.  If it was a positive number, I would also believe it.  The reason for this is simple, I experienced a part of the year that was colder than average and a part of the year that was warmer than average.  All the number tells me is that statistically the colder than average days outnumbered the warmer than average days.  Temperature anomaly by itself is a worthless measure of what the Earth’s climate is doing, especially on a yearly time-scale.

When I expand out to the global temperature anomaly, not only will the anomaly be tilted by the ratio of warmer to colder days, but warmer to colder regions.  If 51% of the world is warmer than average and 49% is colder, the anomaly will be positive.  I find it difficult to find value in that measure by itself.

These are some of the reasons why I have been working on an alternate method of tracking the Earth’s climate.  I have been using my regional temperature data as a test-bed for the method.  Regular readers will be familiar now with charts like this which shows the high, low and average high and low temperature for each day of the year.

The Inconvenient Skeptic

(Red) Daily High Temperature, (Blue) Daily Low Temperature

I have not yet found a source of data that will allow me to construct a comparable chart for the entire Earth, but I am keeping an eye out for one.  There would be great value in such a source and I am sure one exists, but so far I have not found it.  One reason is that most climate scientists prefer to work only with temperature anomaly.  I have written about that before.

It is interesting for myself to see that my perceptions of the year are generally dictated by the high temperature anomaly.  The spring was dominated by the lower than average high-temperatures and not by the low temperatures.  While the month of September had both the high and low temperatures that were well above average, it was the high-temperatures that stick in my mind as unusual.  It is also important to note that September was only above average in comparison to the month of September, it was still cooler than the month of August.

That high temperature also existed on Oct 1st when the high temperature was 32 °C (90°F) which is 10 °C above average, but by Oct 6th, the high temperature was 9 °C (48°F) which was 12 °C below average.

The Inconvenient Skeptic

(Red) Daily High Temperature, (Blue) Daily Low Temperature

The high and low temperatures were suddenly very close to each other as well once the temperature dropped.  A cloudy cold front moved through and as a result the high and low temperatures dropped.  The opposite event happened late in the year when a storm system came through in late December.

The Inconvenient Skeptic

(Red) Daily High Temperature, (Blue) Daily Low Temperature

What had been a colder than average trend quickly switched to above average temperature because a storm came through.  In both cases the high and low temperatures were changed, which has a large impact on the temperature anomaly.  Both of these weather events are easily seen on the yearly temperature chart.

The high temperature, low temperature and the difference between them are all important in understanding how the Earth is losing energy.  None of these values can be found when looking at temperature anomaly data.  In the next part of the article I will discuss the year and the relationship between the temperature and energy.

Posted in Anomaly by inconvenientskeptic on January 8th, 2012 at 7:48 am.


This post has 2 comments

  1. Richard Jan 12th 2012

    I think the first thing that strikes me with the graph above is how ‘triangular’ it all is.

    The sort of response you would get if you fed a near sinusoidal TOA insolation input through a simple, asymetrical R-C filter. Delays around the min, max and ‘zero’ crossing become intersting then, especially for long term observations. So the response/delays at the Solstices and the Equinoxes are the four points of note.

    As to the ‘whole earth’ view, one idea that I have been playing with is to initially select any instrument record (ground or satelite) first into 360 0.5 degree latitude bands North to South.

    This view is then at right angles to the heat flow from the equator to the poles. The actual min, max, mean temps for each band can then be determined and displayed quite simply. It allows for a much finer graduation of the North-South differences as well as allowing the tracking of the year in progress.

    It also allows for expansion to a simple Mollweide tesalation/projection if you want to see the West-East distribution for each band.

  2. Richard Jan 12th 2012

    ‘The actual min, max, mean temps for each band can then be determined and displayed quite simply’ should read ‘The medians of theactual min, max, mean temps recorded for each band can then be determined and displayed quite simply’. Always check before you post!

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