Meteorologists' assessment of human-caused global warming by area and level of expertise. Figures are percentages rounded to the nearest whole number. Numbers in the bottom four rows represent percentage of respondents giving each possible response to the follow-up email question, including non-response to the email (labeled 'insufficient evidence – unknown'). These responses together add to the same number as displayed in the insufficient evidence (total) row; some differences occur due to rounding. Similarly, columns total to 100 percent if all numbers except those in the bottom four rows are added, and differences from 100 are due to rounding. Although 1854 people completed some portion of the survey, this table only displays the results for 1821 respondents, since 33 (less than 2 percent of the sample) did not answer one or more of the questions on expertise and global warming causation. Graphic: Stenhouse, et al., 2013

By Keith L. Seitter, AMS Executive Director
27 November 2013

(AMS) – Earlier this week, the Heartland Institute appears to have sent an extensive e-mail blast with what is more or less a press release for a paper that will appear in an upcoming issue of BAMS titled “Meteorologists’ Views about Global Warming: A Survey of American Meteorological Society Professional Members” (in full disclosure, I am a coauthor on this paper).  A disturbing aspect of this e-mail is that it seems some effort was placed in making it appear to have been sent by AMS.  It was sent from an e-mail account with AMS in the name (though not from the “” domain) and featured the AMS logo prominently (used without permission from AMS).  Only in the fine print at the bottom was it clear that this apparently came from the Heartland Institute.  The text of the e-mail reports results from the study far differently than I would, leaving an impression that is at odds with how I would characterize those results.

If you got this Heartland Institute e-mail, or if you have read articles or blog posts related to this study, my suggestion is simple.  Rather than take someone else’s interpretation of the survey results, read the paper yourself and draw your own conclusions.  It is freely available here as an Early Online Release. [more]

Going to the Source for Accurate Information

ABSTRACT: Meteorologists and other atmospheric science experts are playing important roles in helping society respond to climate change. However, members of this professional community are not unanimous in their views of climate change, and there has been tension among members of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) who hold different views on the topic. In response, AMS created the Committee to Improve Climate Change Communication to explore and, to the extent possible, resolve these tensions. To support this committee, in January 2012 we surveyed all AMS members with known email addresses, achieving a 26.3% response rate (n=1,854). In this paper we tested four hypotheses: (1) perceived conflict about global warming will be negatively associated -- and (2) climate expertise, (3) liberal political ideology, and (4) perceived scientific consensus will be positively associated -- with (a) higher personal certainty that global warming is happening, (b) viewing the global warming observed over the past 150 years as mostly human-caused, and (c) perception of global warming as harmful. All four hypotheses were confirmed. Expertise, ideology, perceived consensus and perceived conflict were all independently related to respondents' views on climate, with perceived consensus and political ideology being most strongly related. We suggest that AMS should: attempt to convey the widespread scientific agreement about climate change; acknowledge and explore the uncomfortable fact that political ideology influences the climate change views of meteorology professionals; refute the idea that those who do hold non-majority views just need to be “educated” about climate change; continue to deal with the conflict among members of the meteorology community.


In a survey of American Meteorological Society members, perceived scientific consensus was the strongest predictor of global warming views, followed by political ideology, climate science expertise, and perceived organizational conflict.

Meteorologists' views about global warming: A survey of American Meteorological Society professional members


  1. Dan Pangburn said...

    Ever wonder what results from an objective assessment of the data?
    An equation, using only one external forcing, that results in 95% correlation with average global temperatures since before 1900 is at . The equation calculates reasonable average global temperature trends since 1610 including the recovery from the LIA. Change to the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide had no significant influence.  

  2. Anonymous said...

    Nothing about the Heartland Institute is honest, ethical or accurate.

    Overflowing with xenophobic "christians" and Republicrats, this organization is hell-bent on destroying every last vestige of the planet.

    Ignorant of actual facts, science and evidence to the extreme, the Heartland Institute believes that the world is simply a plum to be picked for profit and exploitation.

    This one organization I truly despise.  

  3. Jim said...

    Hi Dan,

    Thanks for dropping in. Your idea is an interesting curve-fitting exercise, but it lacks an underlying physical mechanism, particularly in the appeal to sunspots. Also, it requires that we forget everything we know about radiative thermodynamics.

    I always recommend consulting a college-level climate science text to understand the start of the art. Try Ray Pierrehumbert's excellent Principles of Planetary Climate, which is quite readable and requires only a bit of calculus and differential equations.


  4. Dan Pangburn said...

    Jim - I just completed an update to to help those who were unable to recognize that the first law of thermodynamics was used.

    Many (if not all) really missed the boat when they looked at TSI, didn’t see any effect and ruled sunspots out as a factor. If they had thought of conservation of energy and looked at the sunspot number time-integral they might have discovered what actually drives the average global temperature. Change to the level of non-condensing ghg has no significant effect.

    Paraphrasing Richard Feynman: Regardless of how many experts believe it or how many organizations concur, if it doesn’t agree with observation, it’s wrong.

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), some politicians and many others mislead the gullible public by stubbornly continuing to proclaim that increased atmospheric carbon dioxide is a primary cause of global warming.

    Measurements demonstrate that they are wrong.

    CO2 increase from 1800 to 2001 was 89.5 ppmv (parts per million by volume). The atmospheric carbon dioxide level has now (through September) increased since 2001 by 25.69 ppmv (an amount equal to 28.7% of the increase that took place from 1800 to 2001) (1800, 281.6 ppmv; 2001, 371.13 ppmv; September, 2013, 396.82 ppmv).

    The average global temperature trend since 2001 is flat (5 reporting agencies That graph is through April but the average through September is not significantly different.

    That is the observation. No amount of spin can rationalize that the temperature increase to 2001 was caused by a CO2 increase of 89.5 ppmv but that 25.69 ppmv additional CO2 increase had no effect on the average global temperature trend after 2001.

  5. Jim said...

    Hi Dan,

    Robert Grumbine has a nice post on why we need 20-30 years of annual data to infer a trend: Results on deciding trends. In addition, we've been underestimating the global average surface temperature. Also, it's worth noting that Foster and Rahmstorf show decisively that sunspots (or any solar influence) can't be responsible for the 20th-21st century warming trend.


  6. Dan Pangburn said...

    Jim – Thank you for continuing the discussion.

    The planet doesn’t know about the 30 year thing which is an arbitrary selection by humans. The equation that I have been ballyhooing uses all yearly data 1895 – 2012, inclusive, which is 118 years, way more than the 30-year criteria anyway.

    It appears that the difference lies in the meaning of ‘trend’. Grumbine is using ‘trend’ to mean the straight line fit to a 30 year long data set whereas I use ‘trend’ to mean the calculations from the equation which, as shown on Figure (3) in , closely follow the middle of the 32-year long ups and downs of the reported measurements (which have a random uncertainty with s.d. ≈ 0.09 K).

    As to underestimating temperatures, it does not matter what the numbers are (it’s all relative) as long as the method is consistent. It is misleading to include temperatures as far back as 1979 when doing a linear trend because that includes temperatures during the 1973-2005 warmup. Although the (my) calculated trend puts the recent peak in 2005, the temperature trend is flat back to 2001 (average of the 5 reporting agencies, link above).

    Grant Foster and Stefan Rahmstorf did the same thing with solar cycles as most, if not all other researchers have done, in that they looked at just magnitude or just duration. If they had used the time-integral of sunspot numbers, they would have gotten a far better correlation. They refer to Lean & Rind showing 76% explanation of measurements (R2 = 0.76 ?) for 1889-2006 for anthropogenic forcing (CO2 ?). I just did an assessment using my equation with just CO2 . I get R2 = 0.82. This same equation, including the effect of the sunspot time-integral and adjusting each coefficient sequentially and repeatedly for absolute maximum R2 results in 0.9060 if the effect of CO2 is included and 0.9048 if the influence of CO2 is set to zero.

  7. Jim said...

    Hi Dan,

    If you believe that you've discovered some new physics, you should definitely write up a quick letter to a peer-reviewed journal, maybe JGR, or even write a reply to Foster and Rahmstorf in Environmental Research Letters. Any new discovery in radiative thermodynamics will be met with great interest!


  8. Dan Pangburn said...

    It's the same old physics. Just a different way to look at the sunspot data. Discovering that it works as a proxy and using the time-integral. I suspect that it has to do with magnetic fields, cosmic rays and clouds but that is still speculation. Most folks rule my stuff out because they think that I am talking about TSI which they know has little effect.

    Thanks for the suggestions.  


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