Why “GISTEMP LOTI global mean” is wrong and “UAHv6 tlt gl” is right

Ten days ago, Nick Stokes wrote a post on his “moyhu” blog where he – in his regular, guileful manner – tries his best to distract from the pretty obvious fact (pointed out in this recent post of mine) that GISS poleward of ~55 degrees of latitude, most notably in the Arctic, basically use land data only, effectively rendering their “GISTEMP LOTI global mean” product a bogus record of actual global surface temps.

Among other things, he says:

“The SST products OI V2 and ERSST, used by GISS then and now, adopted the somewhat annoying custom of entering the SST under sea ice as -1.8°C. They did this right up to the North Pole. But the N Pole does not have a climate at a steady -1.8°C. GISS treats this -1.8 as NA data and uses alternative, land-based measure. It’s true that the extrapolation required can be over long distances. But there is a basis for it – using -1.8 for climate has none, and is clearly wrong.

So is GISS “deleting data”? Of course not. No-one actually measured -1.8°C there. It is the standard freezing point of sea water. I guess that is data in a way, but it isn’t SST data measured for the Arctic Sea.”

The -1.8°C averaging bit is actually a fair and interesting point in itself, but this is what Stokes does; he finds a peripheral detail somehow related to the actual argument being made and proceeds to misrepresent its significance in an attempt to divert people’s attention from the real issue at hand. The real issue in this case of course being GISS’s (bad) habit of smearing anomaly values from a small collection of land data points all across the vast polar cap regions, over wide tracts of land (where for the main part we don’t have any data), over expansive stretches of ocean (where we do have SST data readily available) AND over complex regions affected by sea ice (where we indeed do have data (SSTs, once again) when and where there isn’t any sea ice cover, but none whatsoever when there is), all the way down to 55-60 degrees of latitude. Continue reading