Taking Earth’s Temperature

By Ray Winn   |   November 16, 2017

It is difficult to measure the average temperature of Earth. Measurement technologies have changed dramatically over time. The mean temperature on one part will be significantly higher or lower from one year to the next. Temperature measurements must be as accurate as 1/100th of a degree to compile data that is actually meaningful. A small breeze will affect the instrument more than that by several times. Couple that with the fact that one has to make simultaneous temperature measurements at hundreds of thousands of locations around the Earth simultaneously and somehow bring all the data to one database.

Vast remote parts of the Earth have no direct measurements. Large areas are covered by clouds and ice. Recent technology from satellite imagery is getting better, but is not yet up to the task. My own opinion is that crop production is one of the best indicators, and that too varies wildly from year to year. If we eat well and the creek doesn’t flood, all is good… according to my grandmother.

Disappearing Ice… or Not

In 2007, professor Peter Waddams, of Cambridge University and an advisor to the United Nations, predicted that all Arctic ice would be gone by 2012. Then he predicted in 2010 with “absolute certainty that it would all be gone by 2014. Who knows what his prediction is at this moment. I’ve called him six times to a machine, but he is apparently too busy to return the call. He has been paid large amounts of money to make these predictions by green organizations all over the world – and worse yet, the UN accepted his predictions as gospel, using them as fact at international climate meetings.

The Arctic ice had been melting at a fairly high rate, but the last two years, according to NASA, has seen some increase in Arctic ice at specific locations and losses slowing in others. Whether this is a trend, it will be years before we know for sure. At the other end of the Earth, the Antarctic ice has been growing steadily since about 1980 according to NASA, and had a comparatively large growth in the 2014/2015-year season. The total sea ice has declined but seems to be declining at a lower rate. There are so many causes that it is not possible to enter into a lengthy discussion here.

Some of the ocean currents switch directions at various times and have an impact on melting and/or freezing of water. These cycles can last for several years in either direction. Can someone tell me the truth? I doubt if anybody knows. If they know, I will listen.

Good Reading

If you read one book on the Earth’s climate, I suggest Heaven and Earth by Ian Plimer, professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Adelaide. Of all the books I have read, it seems to be the one most devoid of political claptrap and skewed science. It is long and sometimes tiresome, but you will find it easy to skip along the top and ignore the deeper parts.

As a way of showing my gratitude for following me up to this point, I have ordered 20 copies of the book for the Tecolote Book Shop. They are free to readers of this article; just go in and mention my name for your free copy. They become available Monday, November 20. Once they are gone, they are gone. Please inspect the book and take one only if you intend to read it, and when finished with the book, please pass it along to someone else or return it to the shop so another can enjoy.

While in Tecolote, stop, look, and shop. The shop is a true local treasure and should be supported by all.

Hoping for rain – but not on your parade!


Where does most of the Earth’s atmospheric Co2 come from and what about greenhouse gasses? Well, those issues are for the next chapter… see it here in a few weeks.


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