25th Anniversary of Global Satellite Temperature Monitoring

spencer christyThe silver anniversary of Roy Spencer’s career-defining moment arrived with no expectation in March. He didn’t realize it until someone mentioned it to him. For John Christy, he had no idea that a discovery announced in 1990 would not only still resonate 25 years later but would be at the center of a raging debate. The date was March 29, 1990. That was the day they publicly became climate change skeptics. What Christy and Spencer (who then worked for NASA at Marshall Space Flight Center just down the street from UAH) announced at that press conference on March 29, 1990, was that their study of temperature data from satellites indicated the world was not warming as much as was believed. –Paul Gattis, Alabama.com, 1 April 2015

It wasn’t too long after John Christy came here that we were at a meeting and we were discussing things over lunch. And the subject [of global warming] came up. Hey, don’t we have satellites? Jim Hansen (a climate scientist who sounded perhaps the first alarm about climate change in the 1980s) had just done his testimony for Al Gore in Congress. That’s sort of when global warming became public knowledge, when Hansen testified. We were discussing, Don’t we have something better than the thermometer data to monitor global temperatures? (UAH scientist) Dick McNider said, ‘What about the microwave sounders we have on the weather satellites? We got back to Huntsville and we started looking at how we could get all that data. Roy Spencer, University of Alabama in Huntsville, Alabama.com, 1 April 2015

Numbers are numbers. That’s what we produced. Those aren’t Republican numbers or Democratic numbers. Those are numbers. Those are observations from real satellites. Roy and I were the pioneers. We discovered how to do this with satellites before anyone else did. We had no clue at that time, 25 years ago, we would be in the center of a huge controversy almost 25 years to the day with congressional investigations, the secretary of state, the vice president telling us we don’t even believe in gravity. Who would have thought that 25 years ago? ‚ÄìJohn Christ, University of Alabama in Huntsville, Alabama.com, 1 April 2015

The decline in Arctic sea ice has become an iconic symbol of global warming. You don’t have to look far on the internet to find predictions by scientists, campaigners and commentators about how soon the region will become ice free in the summer. Unfortunately for those predictions, the Arctic ice has not been listening. The extent of minimum Arctic melting may have paused over the past eight years. It will be interesting to see if it continues in the future. But whatever happens the big question will remain. Is it caused by internal variability masking continuing human-induced-sea-ice loss? Or has internal variability over decadal periods since 1979 been misinterpreted as human-induced decline? –David Whitehouse, Global Warming Policy Forum, 31 March 2015

Climate change has a major problem on its hands: the Earth’s average surface temperature has failed to significantly increase in nearly two decades, and all this despite ever-increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Unlike the globe, this controversy has been simmering for the past several years. Skeptics have increasingly pointed to the pause as proof they were right all along while the warming faithful’s reaction to the ever-mounting evidence provides a perfect case study in modern psychology’s Five Stages of Loss and Grief. Stage 1: Denial. Stage 2: Anger. Stage 3: Bargaining. Stage 4: Depression. Stage 5: Acceptance. –Greg Jones, The Federalist, 30 March 2015