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The BEST Study

Physicist Richard Muller recently wrote a piece in the Wall Street Journal summarizing findings of the BEST (Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature) project. This was an attempt to statistically analyze all of the surface temperature readings to determine if they accurately reflect increases in temperature. According to this study, they do. He points out that even the poor quality stations reflect that the temperature of the earth has increased since 1950.

This study only dealt with the effect of UHI (Urban Heat Island) effect on temperature records. As Muller himself says in the article, no attempt was made to answer the question of the causes of the warming or likely effects. Interestingly, a recent study by CERN cast doubt on the role carbon dioxide plays in global warming.

Muller's study seems to have been done honestly and carefully, although it still has to go through peer review. I've certainly done some rethinking on the matter (which is not to say I have done a 180). Regular readers know that my own skepticism about AGW began with UHI problems, specifically the problems that caused 1998 to be erroneously declared the warmest year on record. It's not clear to me whether it follows from the BEST study that 1998 should be reestablished as the warmest year. (Muller admits in the opening paragraphs that many stations are biased by UHI.)

There are of course critics. James Delingpole wrote a scathing article about the BEST study, claiming that even skeptics admit there has been warming and that the BEST results are nothing but a straw man.

As would be expected there is quite a bit of discussion at Watts Up With That. The sites owner, Anthony Watt, is the one who exposed the UHI problems, so he has a bigger stake in this than the average climate skeptic. Here are some links to articles about BEST on his site:

The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project puts PR before peer review

Pielke Sr: No surprise about BEST

A mathematician’s response to BEST

BEST: What I agree with and what I disagree with – plus a call for additional transparency to prevent “pal” review

Right now I am still digesting all this. I am sure it will not be the last I write on this subject.