Climate change as Sound

A factor in climate science which many commenters fail to appreciate,  is the difficulty of the task faced by the IPCC in actually measuring changes in climate.

It's reckoned that the global average temperature has increased be about a degree Celsius over the interval from 1900 to now. Give or take.  The graphs you see on climate research sites invariably show this as a wavy line of variations from year to year. What this overlooks is that temperatures in most regions of the Earth vary by far larger amounts on a daily (diurnal) basis, and on an annual (seasonal) basis.

The IPCC claim that they have the means to measure this comparatively small long-term change underneath all those other, much larger, shorter-term fluctuations.

To put this task into perspective, I've made up three audio files in which I've used sound to simulate what is being measured.

For the climate change signal I've used a simulation of the Sputnik 1 radio beeps. I chose this because it's a very clear and simple signal. It stands out extremely clearly even above high levels of background noise.

The signal increases in strength by 6dB from start to end. This amount is rather arbitrary. It's more than the climate change value, but anything less would be hard for the human ear to detect.

 Climate change as Sputnik 1 beeps

I think you will agree that that the increase in loudness over the duration of the recording is small but clearly detectable.

I've then used white noise to simulate the daily and seasonal temperature variations in the UK, and added that  to the Sputnik signal. (I've faded the noise in so as not to hit you with an unexpected loud sound if you'd pumped the volume for the first one)

Climate change with UK temperature variations

Notably the Sputnik sound is still audible even above a noise level that's 13 times larger. Which itself might be surprising. The human ear is indeed expert at picking out signals which are deeply buried in noise; it's a survival factor after all to be able to detect sounds of danger, or for that matter, sounds of tasty animals approaching.

What I want you to ask yourself is, though, can you now detect the increase in loudness of Sputnik from the start to the end of the recording?

Next, I've done the same thing with Saharan temperature variations.

Climate change with Saharan temperature variations

Again, can you detect the increase in loudness of Sputnik from start to end?

If you can still detect that Sputnik gets louder in spite of noise that's 20 times stronger than the signal itself, then you are clearly missing your vocational calling as a climate scientist.

Well, I jest, but I think this simple demonstration puts into perspective the sheer difficulty of achieving any real degree of accuracy in measuring a signal so far 'below the noise floor' of the system it resides in. Measurements that the IPCC and their scientist advisors claim to be able to make with indisputable, infallible accuracy. 

 


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