Research Article

Disparity of Tropospheric and Surface Temperature Trends: New Evidence


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Observations suggest that the earth’s surface has been warming relative to the troposphere for the last 25 years; this is not only difficult to explain but also contrary to the results of climate models. We provide new evidence that the disparity is real. Introducing an additional data set, R2 2 meter temperatures, a diagnostic variable related to tropospheric temperature profiles, we find trends derived from it to be in close agreement with satellite measurements of tropospheric temperature. This suggests that the disparity likely is a result of near-surface processes. We find that the disparity does not occur uniformly across the globe, but is primarily confined to tropical regions which are primarily oceanic. Since the ocean measurements are sea surface temperatures, we suggest that the disparity is probably associated with processes at the ocean-atmosphere interface. Our study thus makes unlikely some of the explanations advanced to account for the disparity; it also demonstrates the importance of distinguishing between land, sea and air measurements.

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Atmospheric physicist S. Fred Singer is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, Professor Emeritus of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia, and former founding Director of the U.S. Weather Satellite Service. He is author of Hot Talk, Cold Science: Global Warming’s Unfinished Debate (The Independent Institute).

David H. Douglass is Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Rochester and a Fellow of the American Physical Society. He received his Ph.D. in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and after positions at MIT Lincoln Laboratories and MIT, he became Assistant, Associate, and then full Professor of Physics at the University of Chicago.

He is the recipient of the Alfred P. Sloan Award (junior) for four years, the Alfred P. Sloan Award (senior), and the University of Rochester's Bridging Fellowship to the Eastman School of Music.


Benjamin D. Pearson is Founder and President of ENALAS LLC. He received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Rochester.

Patrick J. Michaels is Director of the Center for the Study of Science at the Cato Institute, former Research Professor of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia, past President of the American Association of State Climatologists, and former Chair for the Committee on Applied Climatology of the American Meteorological Society.


Paul C. Knappenberger is Assistant Director of the Center for the Study of Science at the Cato Institute.


  From S. Fred Singer
HOT TALK, COLD SCIENCE: Global Warming’s Unfinished Debate
Distinguished astrophysicist S. Fred Singer explores the inaccuracies in historical climate data, the limitations of attempting to computer climate models, solar variability, the effects of clouds, ocean currents, and sea levels on global climate, and factors that could mitigate any human impacts on world climate.