Daily Archives: September 15, 2016

When a line isn’t a dotted line

The day before yesterday I linked to an XKCD comic called A Timeline of Earth’s Average Temperature.

NPR: Epic Climate Cartoon Goes Viral, But It Has One Key Problem.

“The solid line comes from real data — from scientists actually measuring the average temperature of Earth’s surface. These measurements allow us to see temperature fluctuations that occur over a very short timescale — say, a few decades or so.

But the dotted line comes from computer models — from scientists reconstructing Earth’s surface temperature. This gives us very, very coarse information. It averages Earth’s temperature over hundreds of years. So we can see temperature fluctuations that occur only over longer periods of time, like a thousand years or so. Any upticks, spikes or dips that occur in shorter time frames get smoothed out.”