A UC Berkeley team's preliminary findings in a review of temperature data confirm global warming studies.
April 4, 2011- A team of UC Berkeley physicists and statisticians that set out to challenge the scientific consensus on global warming is finding that its data-crunching effort is producing results nearly identical to those underlying the prevailing view.
The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project was launched by physics professor Richard Muller, a longtime critic of government-led climate studies, to address what he called "the legitimate concerns" of skeptics who believe that global warming is exaggerated.
But Muller unexpectedly told a congressional hearing last week that the work of the three principal groups that have analyzed the temperature trends underlying climate science is "excellent…. We see a global warming trend that is very similar to that previously reported by the other groups."
The hearing was called by GOP leaders of the House Science & Technology committee, who have expressed doubts about the integrity of climate science. It was one of several inquiries in recent weeks as the Environmental Protection Agency's efforts to curb planet-heating emissions from industrial plants and motor vehicles have come under strenuous attack in Congress.
Muller said his group was surprised by its findings, but he cautioned that the initial assessment is based on only 2% of the 1.6 billion measurements that will eventually be examined.
The Berkeley project's biggest private backer, at $150,000, is the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation. Oil billionaires Charles and David Koch are the nation's most prominent funders of efforts to prevent curbs on the burning of fossil fuels, the largest contributor to planet-warming greenhouse gases.
The $620,000 project is also partly funded by the federal Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, where Muller is a senior scientist. Muller said the Koch foundation and other contributors will have no influence over the results, which he plans to submit to peer-reviewed scientific journals.
Ken Caldeira, an atmospheric scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science, which contributed some funding to the Berkeley effort, said Muller's statement to Congress was "honorable" in recognizing that "previous temperature reconstructions basically got it right…. Willingness to revise views in the face of empirical data is the hallmark of the good scientific process."
But conservative critics who had expected Muller's group to demonstrate a bias among climate scientists reacted with disappointment.