2003 Paris Heat Wave

Much has been made by the AGW community about the heat wave in France in 2003.  It was claimed to be prime facie evidence of global warming. 

New Scientist had this:

“At least 35,000 people died as a result of the record heatwave that scorched Europe in August 2003, says an environmental think tank. 

The Earth Policy Institute (EPI), based in Washington DC, warns that such deaths are likely to increase, as “even more extreme weather events lie ahead”.”

So was it?

This paper 3 years later put to rest any chance that 2003 was a trend with more to come:

Chase, T. N., K. Wolter, R. A. Pielke Sr., and I. Rasool, 2006. Was the 2003 European summer heat wave unusual in a global context? Geophysical Research Letters, 33, L23709, doi:10.1029/2006GL027470.

“our analysis does not support the contention that similar anomalies as seen in summer 2003 are unlikely to recur without invoking a non-stationary statistical regime with a higher average temperature and increased variability.”

They produced this graph:

So much for this occuring in all of Europe.

It’s worth having a look at what has happened since, and test if indeed 2003 was unpresidented and a sign of things to come.

Yearly summer TMax from 1945 -2003.  The 1957 to 1972 data is missing.

There is a clear increasing trend fom th 1970s to 2003, but after it’s dropping.  Notice also the high year in 1947 reaching 39.4C.    2003 looks to be a one-off (that happens every 60 years or so?)

Range of all years except 2003.  2003 is the thick black line.

The hot spell was clearly in the first two weeks of August.  2003 was mostly above the average.  The spike nature of the heatwave suggest a large high pressure warm frontal system.

Number of day’s above 30C.

So much for 2003 being the hottet summer on record.  1947 had ten more days over 30C than 2003.  Other years also had hot waves comperable to 2003.

It’s worth looking at 1947’s summer.

Compare each month for those two years for days over 30C:

Month 1947 2003
May 3  
June 6 3
July 13 8
August 10 14
September 4 1


1947 clearly beats 2003 for the hottest summer.

Was this the hottest heat wave all across the continent of Europe?

Here is NuernBerg, Germany:

It has a 2003 spike TMax high temp, but not as high as 1957 or 1983.  Notice also the tend is down since 1980.  2003 is definitely a rare event, almost looks like one every 30 odd years.

By the time you get out as far a Berlin, that 2003 heat wave did not happen.

2003 is not even close to a hot summer there, just an ordinary year.  Notice 2004 was one of the COOLEST summers since 1934.

It’s clear that despite the media hype, and continued use of the French 2003 hot spell as prime evidence of AGW it was nothing of the sort.  It was local to the area, and was a one-off.  1947 was actually hotter. 

There is no evidence this has anything to do with our emissions of CO2.

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Time Frame Perils

This post will look at the problems associated with looking at a short record of years and implying some sort of trend.  Linear trend lines on oscillating data is entirely dependant on the range of data.  Linear trends will increase as the data moves into an upward part of the cycle, and then downward as the data falls down the back side towards a trough.

To show how this is a problem 3 close by stations in British Columbia, two with short time spans, with one with longer spans, will be plotted together so you can see what happens when long-range data is not included.

Kamloops has data from 1951 to 2010.  Penticton has data from 1941 to 2010.  Both short timeframes.  Vernon has data from 1900 to 1996. 

Summer TMax for Kamloops:

One could claim this is an over all increasing trend.  But is it with such a short timeframe?

Summer TMax for Penticton.

Let’s compare Kamloops to near by Vernon:

Notice where the two overlap their data follows the same pattern.  But now you can see that the early 1900’s were just as warm in the summers as now.  So too then must have Kamloops.  Notice the trend for Vernon is downward between 1900 to 1996.

Penticton and Vernon:

Same thing, the overlapping periods follow the same pattern and hence summer temps in Penticton would have been just as warm in the early 1900s as today.

Thus, one must get as long a recordset as possible to have a period to compare to when one claims the temps today are “unusual”.

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Nirobi 1973-2010

Yearly TMax

Full year range with 2010 in thick black

Days over 30C

Dates over 33C (the spikes)

Year Month Day TMax
1973 12 1 37
1979 3 7 35
1981 2 15 36
1987 10 19 37
1991 2 6 37
2001 2 8 35.4
2004 10 8 35.7
2006 2 11 38.2
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Honolulu 1940-2010

Yearly TMax:

Summer range from 1940 to 2009, with 2010 in thick black.  It’s right down the middle of the average for all years.

Count of days above 33C

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New Delhi, 1973-2010

Yearly TMax

The trend from 1980 is definitely flat over all.   2010 has a definite spike, highest in the range, but there is a however.

Summer TMax range, highest, lowest, average and standrd deviations for years 1973-2009.  Thick black line is 2010.

Notice that spike wasa one off day emerging above the previous years’ highest TMax.  But not a month and a half later, 2010 also spiked below the lowest to have one of the coolest days.  Over all 2010 was above the average.

Count of days over 43C.

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Tokyo 1946-2010

Yearly TMax, flat since 1980:

Summer TMax range high, low, average and upper & lower standard deviations for 1946-2009.  Thick black line is 2010.  It’s above the upper standard deviation for most of the summer with only 2 spikes above the previous highest TMax of all other years in the dataset.

Number of days above 35C

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Cairo, 1975-2010

Yearly Tmax regardless of month.  Even though 2010 was the highest in this short range, there is no over all trend.

Summer TMax range for all years except 2010, with 2010 in bold black line.  Even thought 2010 had the highest TMax, nothing unusual about that year in the summer, just a few spikes above the upper standard deviation.

Data from: http://www.tutiempo.net/en/Climate/Cairo_Airport/623660.htm

Number of days over 39.9C.  No over all trend.

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Moscow, 1949-2010

The summer of 2010 was the hottest year on record.  Is this an indication of global warming, or a one-off event likely not to repeated for a long time to come.

Yearly TMax for July:

Take 2010 out and the trend is flat, no over all increase in TMax.  2011 will very likely reset that increasing slope back to flat.

Daily range of temps from May through September.  The red line is the maximum reached on that day regardless of the year except fo 2010.  Blue line is the lowest TMax reached on any given day except for 2010.  The thin black line is the daily averages from 1949 to 2009, while the orange lines are the upper and lower standard deviations for the same range of years.  The thick black line is the highest daily temp for 2010 from May through September.

Yes, it was a hot summer.  But this still does not show us if this is a trend or one-off.  A count of the number of days above 30C will show us something interesting.

Notice 2010 is clearly a one-off.  There is no over all trend.  In fact, 2009 had only one day all that summer above 30C.  Seems 2010 just caught up.  Anyone want to guess as to what 2011 will be like in Moscow?  prediction.  Nothing unusual, in fact going on a limb, 2011 will be  cool summer in Moscow.  Few days over 30C.

But such will be forgotten in the halls of AGW.  Only the real extreme one offs will  be taughted as indicators the planet is warming out of control.

Data came form here:


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Perth, Au 1944-2010

Monthly TMax range regardless of year.  Lines are from top down, highest TMax, average TMax and lowest of TMax

Yearly TMax regardless of month.

Notice the increase from 1944 to 1980. but flat after.  Thus 40 years TMax hasen’t changed.  It is well understood that from 1945 to 1975 world average temperature dropped, which is seen in this data.  But after 1980 temp is expected to go up, here it didn’t.  Without data going back to 1900 all we can say is since 1944, there is a general trend all of which in the first 40 years.  We have no idea if any trend now was hotter or colder before 1944.

Number of days above 39.9C regardless of month.

No over all trend.

The next 12 graphs are the monthly TMax:

Northam is a staton (‘010111’)  73 km away from Perth and has data from 1908 onwards.  This is the TMax pr year regardless of month:

2007 had a record high year (record lowest in 1992 at “only” 40C), but over all there is no trend, thus no increase in TMax.

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More Heat Waves Expected

Google that phrase and you get 1,270,000 hits.   Here is a sample of some of the first links in that list.

Aug 23, 2004
Scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research say global warming will bring about more frequent and more intense heat waves in the United States and Europe.”

Oct 14, 2008
August 2003 was the warmest August on record in the northern hemisphere, but according to the projections of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), even more extreme weather events lie ahead. By the end of the century, the world’s average temperature is projected to increase by 2.5-10.4 degrees Fahrenheit (1.4-5.8 degrees Celsius). As the mercury climbs, more frequent and more severe heat waves are in store.”

July 8, 2010
Exceptionally long heat waves and other hot events could become commonplace in the United States in the next 30 years, according to a new study by Stanford University climate scientists.”

July 10, 2010
Targets set by policy makers to slow global warming are too soft to prevent more heatwaves and extreme temperatures in the United States within a few years, with grim consequences for human health and farming, a study has warned.”

Undated from NOAA
more intense, more frequent and longer-lasting heat waves.”

Oh, but the warmists will complain that these are not peer reviewed papers.  But these are:


Science 5 December 2003:
Vol. 302 no. 5651 pp. 1719-1723
DOI: 10.1126/science.1090228

Modern Global Climate Change

Thomas R. Karl and Kevin E. Trenberth


Modern climate change is dominated by human influences, which are now large enough to exceed the bounds of natural variability. The main source of global climate change is human-induced changes in atmospheric composition. These perturbations primarily result from emissions associated with energy use, but on local and regional scales, urbanization and land use changes are also important. Although there has been progress in monitoring and understanding climate change, there remain many scientific, technical, and institutional impediments to precisely planning for, adapting to, and mitigating the effects of climate change. There is still considerable uncertainty about the rates of change that can be expected, but it is clear that these changes will be increasingly manifested in important and tangible ways, such as changes in extremes of temperature and precipitation, decreases in seasonal and perennial snow and ice extent, and sea level rise. Anthropogenic climate change is now likely to continue for many centuries. We are venturing into the unknown with climate, and its associated impacts could be quite disruptive.

Even with these uncertainties,  the likely outcome is more frequent heat waves, droughts, extreme precipitation events, and related impacts (such as wild fires, heat stress, vegetation changes, and sea level rise) that will be regionally dependent.”


Science 13 August 2004:
Vol. 305 no. 5686 pp. 994-997
DOI: 10.1126/science.1098704

More Intense, More Frequent, and Longer Lasting Heat Waves in the 21st Century

Gerald A. Meehl and Claudia Tebaldi


A global coupled climate model shows that there is a distinct geographic pattern to future changes in heat waves. Model results for areas of Europe and North America, associated with the severe heat waves in Chicago in 1995 and Paris in 2003, show that future heat waves in these areas will become more intense, more frequent, and longer lasting in the second half of the 21st century. Observations and the model show that present-day heat waves over Europe and North America coincide with a specific atmospheric circulation pattern that is intensified by ongoing increases in greenhouse gases, indicating that it will produce more severe heat waves in those regions in the future.


GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 31, L02202, doi:10.1029/2003GL018857, 2004

The 2003 heat wave in Europe: A shape of things to come?
An analysis based on Swiss climatological data and model simulations

Martin Beniston

Model results suggest that under enhanced atmospheric greenhouse-gas concentrations, summer temperatures are likely to increase by over 4C on average, with a corresponding increase in the frequency of severe heat waves.”


This should be enough sampling to make the statement that AGW theory predicts there will be more heat waves in the summers ahead. 

What is the definition of a heat wave?  There really isn’t a formal definition, but Environment Canada’s is more than 2 days in a row above 32C.  Thus a “heat wave” are days when the summer TMax is at its highest. 

This is easy enough to check to see if indeed TMax has been increasing by looking at the summer daily TMax for specific locations. One cannot use anomalies for this test.  The definition is specific to a definitive temperature – hot.  Hence specific locations of daily TMax will be needed to check this.

This analysis will look at locations on opposite sides of the planet, Canada and Australia.  The stations picked were based on location on their respective continents as well as having the longest possible recordset.  Three locations from each continent were picked spanning as much of their continent as possible.

Each location will have three tests run to cover the bases on what a “heat wave” is.  The first test will be tracking the highest TMax reached for each year to see if that has been increasing.  The second test will count the number of “hot” days for each year, that is, over a threshold temperature.  The third test will look at which years are setting daily record highs.

Ottawa, Ontario, Environment Canada Station 4333.


Figure 1a: Yearly Highest Summer Tmax.  Summer being June to August.  The trend is clearly dropping on the hottest years.

Figure 1b: Number of days above 29.9C.  Trend is clearly for fewer hot day 

Figure 1c: Record setting years for July.  It is clear that the early 1900’s dominate the record setting temps. Only 6 of the 31 records are after 1950.  The all time high of 37.8C was July 4, 1921 and July 30, 1916.  Notice the latest year, 1995 (July 14) is one of the lowest temps in the list of records.

Muenster, Sask, EC Station 2973

Figure 2a:  Summer yearly Tmax.  Notice the distinct increase from 1904 to 1946.  Down over all from 1936 to 2009, and completely flat since 1970.


Figure 2b: Count of summer days above 29.9C.  Clearly the 1930s and 1940s have more days 30C and above than the recent years.  Clearly there are not more hotter days in the last 30 years than at the middle of the 1900’s.


Figure 2c: Record temperature days for July.  Notice the years are mostly before 1950, only 9 years after 1950 were record days, with the highest of 41.1C July 19, 1941 dominating.

Fort St James, BC, EC Station 588

Figure 3a:  Summer yearly Tmax.  There is a modest increase from 1900 to 1940.  Completely flat over all since 1900.


Figure 3b: Count of summer days above 29.9C.  There are slightly more days at the beginning of the 1900’s, but over all there is no change in the number of hot days.


Figure 3c: Record temperature days for July.  Notice the years are mostly before 1950, only 8 years are after 1950 were record days, with the highest of 36.7C July 17, 1941.

The trend is clear for Canada, there is no indication of any kind of increase in Tmax in the summer.  In Ontario summer Tmax is dropping, where as elsewhere it’s flat, no increase in hot summer days.  Record setting hot days are mostly prior to the 1950’s.


Darwin, Station 014015

With Darwin being so close to the Equator, they essentially have summer all year.   This graph shows the monthly highest Tmax range for the years 1941 to 2010, which is all the available data. This is going to be a problem because from mid 1940’s to mid 1970’s is acknowledged to be a cooler trend after the increase from 1900 to 1945.  Not having that range at this location means there is no way to know if any warm trend after 1975 is unusual and didn’t happen prior to 1941.


Figure 4a:  Tmax range per month. Red is the highest TMax, blue is the lowest TMax with the black line the average of all the points between those two. October is the hottest month for Darwin with August the coolest, if low 30C can be considered “cool”.


Figure 4b: Hottest yearly Tmax, regardless of month.  There is a modest increase from 1941 to 2010.  Though flat since 1970, there is a significant increase in Tmax since 1995, though not above the all time high in 1982.


Figure 4c: Count of October days above 35C.  Since 1995 there has been an increase in the number of days, corresponding to the increase in Tmax over the same period.

 The next figure would be record temperature days for October, like whatwas done for the Canadian stations, but this dataset is way too small. There is no way we can know if any of the temps since 1941 have anything record breaking without longer data.  Record breaking days is more of an accounting issue than a temperature trend issue.  With such a short dataset it is meaningless.

Alice Springs, Station 015590

Like Darwin, a short recordset.   This graph shows the monthly highest Tmax range for the years 1941 to 2010, which is all the available data.


Figure 5a:  Tmax range per month.  Red is the highest TMax, blue the lowest TMax with the black line th average of all the points between the other two. January is the hottest month for Darwin with July the coolest.


Figure 5b: Hottest yearly Tmax, regardless of month.  There is a modest steady increase from 1941 to 2010.  Notice 2010 was one of the coolest summers, getting to “only” 41.3C.


Figure 5c: Count of October days above 42.9C.  Seems to have peaked in 1998, are we seeing a cycle?

 As with Darwin, there is no way we can know if any of the temps since 1941 have anything record breaking without longer data.

Melbourne, Station 86071

Now we have a nice long recordet, from 1855 to 2010   This graph shows the monthly highest Tmax range all years.


Figure 6a:  Tmax range per month.  Again, highest TMax is in red, the lowest in blue with the average in black.  Feburary is the hottest month with July the coolest.


Figure 6b: Hottest yearly Tmax, regardless of month.  Over the entire range the trend is completely flat.  No increase.  Blue line is the 10 year moving average. There is no reason to attach any significance to the trend on the right.  The last 30 years contained both the coolest summer (35C in 1984) as well as the highest (46.4C in 2009)


Figure 6c: Count of Feburary days above 39.9C.  No trend.  Having a longer dataset definitely is required to get the “big picture.”


Figure 6d: Record setting dates for Feburary.  Half the years are before 1950, 14 days are after 1950.  2009 was quite the anomalous year, with a record high of 46.4C on the 7th of Feb.  There is no indication from this data that any other recent years built up to 2009.   


What does this sampling of stations tell us about the predictions of more heat waves?  It’s pure speculation.  There is no indication that there is any kind of increase in the summer maximum temperatures.

If these stations on opposite sides of the earth are not a fair representation of what’s going on globally, it begs the question.  Which locations are these climate scientists looking at that do have summers increasing temperatures?

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