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Hotter than the hottest... uh...

16 Dec 2020 | News Roundup

We are told by people who at this point would look darn silly saying anything else that 2020 is the hottest year on record or so close as makes no difference. But according to the online weather enthusiast “Ottawa Weather Records”, we in Canada’s capital are now tied for the fourth-highest number of days above 0°C in a year since records began in 1872, having been tied last week at 10th. But don’t go saying “Gotcha” or assuming the other top years were post-2017 etc. because in fact the rankings are, in descending order, 1953, 1998, 1990, 2020 and 2012, 2006, 1973, 1913, 2016 and 1889. So it’s true that the last decade has seen three of the 10 hottest years in the past century and a half, by this measure at least. But even so, fourth place feels like a bit of a letdown.

In fact it’s not important, for three reasons. Well, four if you count that records were kept at the Central Experimental Farm until 1938 and after that at the airport, potentially problematic because airports are notorious urban heat islands. But here are the three fundamental ones.

First, there’s no apparent pattern and if warming were an accelerating crisis there would be. Second if there were an apparent pattern, it still wouldn’t prove much of anything because it would also have been true in, say, 1940 that many of the hottest years on record were in the last 20 and mighty few people think that the temperature surge from 1900 until 1940 was man-made, or proof of anything. Especially since they know it then got colder for 30 years.

But here’s the third, and it may already have occurred to you. Ottawa is just one place. If Canada’s capital is currently having a year that’s supposedly warm (if snowy) but by no means hottest ever, and meanwhile it’s cold in Australia and the American Midwest and various other places, what can it mean that 2020 is the hottest ever?

Clearly it requires that the weather here in Ottawa, and everywhere else it’s not abnormally warm, is anomalous. So consequently there must be a whole lot of places that are seeing their longest-ever stretch of warm days, as part of a pattern of such years in the last two decades. So where are they?

We’ve made the point previously that everywhere can’t be warming faster than average no matter how persistently journalists say the place they live is doing so, and scientists say the place they are studying is. But on exactly the same grounds, just as everywhere can’t be warming faster than average, everywhere also can’t already be warmer than average. Or, for that matter, cooler. So where is it hotter to make up for all the places currently not actually setting records? Other than in a computer that arguably needs a better fan or perhaps a better modeling program.

It’s almost as though there’s the actual temperatures in all the places people live as a kind of sideshow for the rustic, and then the secret gnostic world temperature that’s like way high man. And if that secret temperature is the result of satellite measurements, bear in mind that we’ve only had those for about the last 40 years. So we’re comparing microwaves to tree rings if we make dogmatic statements about how recent readings compare with older ones.

6 comments on “Hotter than the hottest... uh...”

  1. Re: Hotter than the hottest... uh...

    Simple, heat island effect. In the unadjusted data, only the lows in Ottawa are rising. The highs are not. Go to Morrisburg just south of Ottawa where there has been little to no urbanization and you will find no increase in the lows and I suspect no increase in days above 0.

    Notice they didn't go after the number of days at or over 30 deg.
    At the Mcdonald Cartier airport (ottawa into), where the records start in the 40's, the years with the fewest days >=30 were 2000, 2004 and 2014. 2000 had 1 day >=30. 2004 and 2014 both had 3 day >=30.

    The years with the most days >=30 you ask? 1955 with 40 day >=30. Second place was 1949 with 37 days >=30.

  2. Calgary is the same. From Jan 1, 1885 to Dec 15, 2020 Calgary’s average daily temperature has been 3.88degrees C. Plotting the graph of annual daily averages you see a very flat trend. 2019 was bang on the long term 3.88 degree mark. 2020 is very slightly above this mark. However, so was 1885 and many years over the past 135. Applying a least squared trend line shows a slight upward trend, however, the r squared value is very low, 0.16 meaning the accuracy of the trend line is very poor. Applying a 30 year moving average (30 years being an average definition of climate vrs weather) there is a slight upward slope from 1980 to present, however there is also the same slight upward slope to the moving average line from 1915 until the late 1940’s. The CO2 growth chart from Keeling in Hawaii indicates atmospheric CO2 growth has been constantly increasing, but temperature has not. Calgary’s 30 year moving average seems to indicate a cyclical up and down trend not correlated at all with the straight line increase in atmospheric CO2. Could it be due to natural variation of many sorts?

  3. Ric. Thanks for the great post!
    Reading local stories from around the world claiming that this region or that, is expierencing double the rate of temp increase or sea level rise has become normal.

  4. The Positional Astronomy Division of the Dominion observatory, Department of Mines and Technical Surveys published astronomical data in 1964 that showed sunrise and sunset times of 5.32 am and 4.28 pm on the 26th of december for Ottawa. Yesterday's weatheroffice times were 7.42am and 4.26pm. That is quite a wobble in the planet as the time catches up in the pm. Some places on the planet are getting a lot more or less sunlight as we spin at 1600 kilometres an hour while zooming around the sun at 110000 kmh.
    The data was published in a booklet........Finding the sun's true bearing..

  5. Adelaide, the capital of South Australia has just recorded a year (2020) that had an average maximum temp that is almost exactly the same as the 96 year average. The temp was 0.2 degC warmer than the long term average. So no climate emergency here but you won’t hear that on the local MSM!

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