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Hourly temperature data do not support the views of the Climate Deniers: Evidence from Barrow Alaska
  • Kevin F. Forbes
Kevin F. Forbes
Energy and Environmental Data Science, Energy and Environmental Data Science

Corresponding Author:kevin.f.forbes@eeds.solutions

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Survey evidence has indicated that a significant percentage of the population does not fully embrace the scientific consensus regarding climate change. This paper assesses whether the hourly temperature data support this denial. The analysis examines the relationship between hourly CO2 concentration levels and temperature using hourly data from the NOAA-operated Barrow observatory in Alaska. At this observatory, the average annual temperature over the 2015-2020 period was about 3.37 oC higher than in 1985–1990. A time-series model to explain hourly temperature is formulated using the following explanatory variables: the hourly level of total downward solar irradiance, the CO2 value lagged by one hour, proxies for the diurnal variation in temperature, proxies for the seasonal temperature variation, and proxies for possible non-anthropomorphic drivers of temperature. The purpose of the time-series approach is to capture the data’s heteroskedastic and autoregressive nature, which would otherwise “mask” CO2’s “signal” in the data. The model is estimated using hourly data from 1985 through 2015. The results are consistent with the hypothesis that increases in CO2 concentration levels have nontrivial consequences for hourly temperature. The estimated annual contributions of factors exclusive of CO2 and downward total solar irradiance are very small. The model was evaluated using out-of-sample hourly data from 1 Jan 2016 through 31 Aug 2017. The model’s out-of-sample hourly temperature predictions are highly accurate, but this accuracy is significantly degraded if the estimated CO2 effects are ignored. In short, the results are consistent with the scientific consensus on climate change.