Events

Wednesday, October 25, 2017 - 4:00pm
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Palfrey House Conference Room, 18 Hammond St., Cambridge

Laboratory for Particle Physics and Cosmology Seminar

"The Effect of WWII on Global Surface Temperature" with physicist Bernie Gottschalk.

Abstract: NOAA has published monthly surface temperature measurements from 1880 to the present day, land-based (atmospheric) as well as sea-based, in six zones of latitude north to south. Fitting these twelve independent time series with a Gaussian on a quadratic background, with all six parameters free to vary, we find a 0.339 ± 0.065 C bump coincident with WW2. 

The Gaussian amplitude is non-zero by 5.2 σ so the bump is very unlikely to be a statistical accident (p = 0.2 × 10−7). Possibly, systematic error (bias) in both land- and sea-based measurements came and went coincident with WW2. Failing that, the bump is due to human activity, presumably the greatly increased combustion of fossil and other fuels relative to that era. In that case, it might possibly test some aspects of climate theory. 

A byproduct of the study, far more consequential than the WW2 bump, is our fit to the long-term behavior of surface temperature. The linear term, 0.747 ± 0.023 C/century, agrees well with other findings, but the present-day slope, ≈ 2.5 C/century, is far greater because of the quadratic term.

Contact Name: 

Korin Watras

Research Areas: 

Harvard University
Center for the Environment

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