Get real data behind record temperature claims

Someone has said “ignorance is not only not knowing something, but also ‘knowing’ something to be true that isn’t.” What I’m about to tell you is just such a thing.

Some time ago, the Albuquerque Journal quoted a long-time resident who claimed to be an expert on “record Albuquerque temperatures” to say, “record-high Albuquerque temperatures are more common in recent years.” The data show this is not true, although widely believed. I have become increasingly disturbed by non-scientists and some scientists quoting scientific results incorrectly.

The data below come from the Albuquerque National Weather Service morning broadcasts on station WX134 162.4 MHZ. Every morning, the station gives the current weather data and future forecasts. Then a section broadcast is called, “The Climate summary for Yesterday.” That is a strange statement, since we have been told correctly that “weather” is not “climate.” Climate change occurs over decades or longer. But the statement is not completely wrong, because the normal high and low for the day are given, also the record high and low. Consider the following data where RH is record high and NH is normal high in Fahrenheit for the given date:

Nov. 23 RH 74 1909 NH 52

Nov. 19 RH 72 1915 NH 54

Nov. 18 RH 73 2017 NH 55

Nov. 14 RH 76 1908 NH 56

Nov. 6 RH 78 1909 NH 60

Oct. 16 RH 84 1909 NH 69

Oct. 14 RH 86 1909 NH 70

Aug. 26 RH 98 2019 NH 86

Aug. 20 RH 98 1905 NH 87

Aug. 6 RH 100 1910 NH 88

May 10 RH 92 1899 NH 77

April 2 RH 82 NH 67

Dec. 1 RH 67 1842 NH 49

This data shows that record-high temperatures occurred over 100 years ago in Albuquerque. That means that, for that date, over 100 attempts to exceed that temperature have failed. They also show that the record-high temperatures are also flat over this long period. The record-high temperatures also occur independent of season from April through November. My recollection is also for all other seasons.

Albuquerque was a quite different city 100 years ago. Smaller population, lower CO2, fewer heat-trapping streets and buildings. All those changes would tend to give higher temperatures in recent years.

What is the explanation? Also record-low temperature data seems to show they tend to be in earlier years as expected. Perhaps Sandia scientists can find an explanation. Could it be that CO2 or other gases have a saturable heat absorption for high concentrations? Also, these investigations could provide an excellent school project to show children how a scientific investigation is conducted. Get the data from the National Weather Service. Plot the data versus each date of the year. Draw a conclusion. Suggest future investigations. Publish results with class names. Could be done for each city in New Mexico.

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