Detecting Climate Change: The Temperature Record

The American Geophysical Union (AGU), the American Meteorological Society (AMS), and the American Statistical Association (ASA), present:

Detecting Climate Change: The Temperature Record

Thursday, May 6, 2010

2:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Capitol Visitors Center (Senate Side) Room 209/208
United States Senate
Washington, DC


*This event is part of the AMS Climate Briefing Series (, which is made possible, in part, by a grant from the National Science Foundation’s Paleoclimate Program*

Program Summary: Leading scientific organizations throughout the world and in the United States say the evidence of climate change is unambiguous and overwhelming. Yet significant public confusion persists around the basis for the scientific conclusions, as evidenced by recent attention in the media and among policy makers.  This briefing will examine temperature records and their contribution to the scientific conclusion that global warming is occurring. But the temperature record offers us much more than an answer to the question “Is the planet warming?” Temperature observations from the past and in the future will provide vital clues about where climate is headed, how we might adapt to changes, whether our mitigation efforts are sufficiently aggressive, and if we need to pursue climate engineering strategies of last resort. Come hear where the active observation of the temperature record currently stands and is headed next.


Thomas R. Karl, L.H.D. Interim Director, NOAA Climate Services and Director, NOAA National Climatic Data Center


Paul Higgins, Ph.D. Associate Director, American Meteorological Society Policy Program


Speaker: Thomas R. Karl

Title: NOAA’s Global and National Temperatures

Each month NOAA provides an update of global and national temperature trends and anomalies.  The results of these analyses have been used in IPCC and National Assessments to assess changes of temperature in the historical record.  The methods and data used at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center to calculate the trends and anomalies will be discussed.  This includes historical changes in data coverage, processing techniques, bias corrections, and assessments of uncertainty.  When viewed with independent methods and data used by other agencies and governments to track temperature and temperature-related changes, the results have provided the basis for the statement “global warming is unequivocal.”


Thomas Karl currently serves as director of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., and interim director of NOAA’s Climate Service. Karl is a fellow of the American Meteorological Society and has recently completely his term as President.  He is also a fellow of the American Geophysical Union and has published more than 150 peer-reviewed articles and several books as Editor and Contributor. He has received many awards and recognition for his work in services and scientific contributions in climate-related work including: two Presidential Rank Awards, five Gold Medals from the Department of Commerce and two Bronze Medals; the American Meteorological Society’s Suomi Award; National Associate of the National Academy of Sciences; the NOAA Administrator’s Award, and several others.  He has served as Editor of the Journal of Climate (1997-2000) and has been the Convening and Lead Author and Review Editor of all the major IPCC assessments since 1990, which were recently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.  He was Co-Chair of the US National Assessment and the recent Global Climate Change Impacts in the US state of knowledge report and a number of other assessments produced by the US Climate Change Science Program.  He has received a B.S. in Meteorology from Northern Illinois University, a M.S in Meteorology from the University of Wisconsin, and a doctorate of humane letters (honoris causa) from North Carolina State University.


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