Earth Science News  





. Global Temperature Politics Or Science

"It is impossible to talk about a single temperature for something as complicated as the climate of Earth", Bjarne Andresen says, an an expert of thermodynamics. "A temperature can be defined only for a homogeneous system. Furthermore, the climate is not governed by a single temperature. Rather, differences of temperatures drive the processes and create the storms, sea currents, thunder, etc. which make up the climate".
by Staff Writers
Copenhagen, Denmark (SPX) Mar 16, 2007
The entire debate about global warming is a mirage. The concept of 'global temperature' is thermodynamically as well as mathematically an impossibility, says professor at The Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, Bjarne Andresen who has analyzed this hot topic in collaboration with professors Christopher Essex from University of Western Ontario and Ross McKitrick from University of Guelph, both Ontario, Canada.

It is generally assumed that the atmosphere and the oceans have grown warmer during the recent 50 years. The reason for this point of view is an upward trend in the curve of measurements of the so-called 'global temperature'. This is the temperature obtained by collecting measurements of air temperatures at a large number of measuring stations around the Globe, weighing them according to the area they represent, and then calculating the yearly average according to the usual method of adding all values and dividing by the number of points.

Average without meaning

"It is impossible to talk about a single temperature for something as complicated as the climate of Earth", Bjarne Andresen says, an an expert of thermodynamics. "A temperature can be defined only for a homogeneous system. Furthermore, the climate is not governed by a single temperature. Rather, differences of temperatures drive the processes and create the storms, sea currents, thunder, etc. which make up the climate".

He explains that while it is possible to treat temperature statistically locally, it is meaningless to talk about a a global temperature for Earth. The Globe consists of a huge number of components which one cannot just add up and average. That would correspond to calculating the average phone number in the phone book. That is meaningless. Or talking about economics, it does make sense to compare the currency exchange rate of two countries, whereas there is no point in talking about an average 'global exchange rate'.

If temperature decreases at one point and it increases at another, the average will remain the same as before, but it will give rise to an entirely different thermodynamics and thus a different climate. If, e.g. it is 10 degrees at one point and 40 degrees at another, the average is 25 degrees. But if instead there is 25 degrees both places, the average is still 25 degrees. These two cases would give rise to two entirely different types of climate, because in the former case one would have pressure differences and strong winds, while in the latter there would be no wind.

Many averages

A further problem with the extensive use of 'the global temperature' is that there are many ways of calculating average temperatures.

Example 1: Take two equally large glasses of water. The water in one glass is 0 degrees, in the other it is 100 degrees. Adding these two numbers and dividing by two yields an average temperature of 50 degrees. That is called the arithmetic average.

Example 2: Take the same two glasses of water at 0 degrees and 100 degrees, respectively. Now multiply those two numbers and take the square root, and you will arrive at an average temperature of 46 degrees. This is called the geometric average. (The calculation is done in degrees Kelvin which are then converted back to degrees Celsius.)

The difference of 4 degrees is the energy which drives all the thermodynamic processes which create storms, thunder, sea currents, etc.

More politics than science

These are but two examples of ways to calculate averages. They are all equally correct, but one needs a solid physical reason to choose one above another. Depending on the averaging method used, the same set of measured data can simultaneously show an upward trend and a downward trend in average temperature. Thus claims of disaster may be a consequence of which averaging method has been used, the researchers point out.

What Bjarne Andresen and his coworkers emphasize is that physical arguments are needed to decide whether one averaging method or another is needed to calculate an average which is relevant to describe the state of Earth, not tradition.

The currently used method and the consequences drawn from it therefore is more politics than science, they explain.

C. Essex, R. McKitrick, B. Andresen: Does a Global Temperature Exist?; J. Non-Equil. Thermod. vol. 32, p. 1-27 (2007). [= Journal of Non-Equilibrium Thermodynamics]

Email This Article

Related Links
University of Copenhagen
Learn about Climate Science at TerraDaily.com

Nature Runs Riot In Europe Are Warm Winter
Paris (AFP) March 16, 2007
Wheat harvested a month early, markets bursting with prematurely ripened produce, animals migrating too soon or not at all -- Europe's warmest winter on record has made nature run amok, experts across the continent have reported. With average temperatures in the three winter months of December through February more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above average in most European countries, the environment's biological clock has been thrown off kilter, they say.

.
Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
  



  • Birth And Rebirth In New Orleans
  • Airmen Upgrading Giant Voice Systems In England
  • Indonesia Allots One Billion Dollars To Prevent Floods
  • Relief Flows Into Indonesia Quake Area As Death Toll Revised Down

  • Nature Runs Riot In Europe Are Warm Winter
  • Statistical Analysis Debunks Climate Change Naysayers
  • Global Temperature Politics Or Science
  • Climate Change Will Heat Switzerland Swiftly

  • Global Sunscreen Has Likely Thinned
  • Airborne Science In The Classroom The Next-Best Thing To Being There
  • A Cold-Water Monster Current Off Sydney
  • CryoSat-2 On The Road To Recovery

  • United Solar Ovonic Awarded To Develop New Solarcells For Space And Airship Applications
  • New Lithium-Ion Battery Technology Created
  • Unlocking The Secrets Of High-Temperature Superconductors
  • China Bans New Small Coal-Based Power Generators

  • Genome Sequence Shows What Makes Bacteria Dangerous For Troops In Iraq
  • A Year Of Added Life More Valuable For The Young
  • Researchers Reconstruct Spread Of Bird Flu From China
  • Troubling Trends In AIDS Cases

  • Belief That Species Evolve Faster In Tropics Debunked
  • Remote Sheep Population Resists Genetic Drift
  • Social Tolerance Allows Bonobos To Outperform Chimpanzees On A Cooperative Task
  • Why Do Birds Migrate

  • Bacterium Could Treat PCBs Without The Need For Dredging
  • Asian Pollution Linked To Stronger Pacific Storm System
  • Canada's Oil Sands To Keep Polluting
  • As An Economy Blossoms An Ancient Capital Suffocates

  • Long Legs Are More Efficient
  • Eat Cocoa And Live Longer
  • The Global Aging Problem
  • Getting On Your Nerves And Repairing Them

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2006 - SpaceDaily.AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA PortalReports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additionalcopyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement