Europe’s “48°C horror that never was”… ESA and media heavily criticised for manipulative reporting

“The most intense climate lie”: it was all over the news last week: temperatures in southern Europe soared to 48 °C! But none of this was true.

The climate sensationalist media in Germany and elsewhere, such as Relotius Spiegel, kicked off the hysteria by uncritically quoting a carelessly and manipulatively worded European Space Agency (ESA) report of 13 July, which referred for the first time to the temperature of the “air”:

Temperatures across Europe are rising sharply this week in the context of an intense and prolonged hot spell. And it is only just beginning. Italy, Spain, France, Germany and Poland are all experiencing a major heatwave with air up to 48°C on the islands of Sicily and Sardinia, potentially the hottest temperatures ever recorded in Europe.”

The original ESA report went on to later clarify that this was in fact the surface temperature (emphasis added):

The following animation uses data from Copernicus Sentinel-3 from the mission’s radiometer and shows the temperature of the Earth’s surface in Italy between 9 and 10 July. As the image clearly shows, in some cities temperature of the earth’s surface exceeded 45 °C, including Rome, Naples, Taranto and Foggia. Along the eastern slopes of Mount Etna in Sicily, many temperatures exceeding 50 °C were recorded.”

This was not referring to the standard temperatures recorded 2 metres above the ground that we always hear in the daily weather reports, which are much cooler, but to temperatures right at the surface of the earth. This crucial difference went completely unnoticed by the media and journalists who reported the new record temperatures. Before this trick was discovered by attentive readers, the news had already gone around the world.

Yesterday, ESA issued a (vague) explanation explaining the difference between the temperature at the surface and the air temperature at 2 metres above the ground, but continued to deceive nonetheless:

The surface temperature is how hot the Earth’s “surface” is to the touch. The temperature of the airas reported in daily weather forecasts is a measure of how hot the air is above the ground.”

ESA didn’t bother to mention how the surface temperature is much hotter than the air temperature at 2 meters.

“The most intense climate lie”

“What we have experienced in the past few days has been the most intense climate lie since temperature recordings began,” Germany’s Achtung Reichelt reported here on the implications of ESA’s sloppy and manipulative press release and the ensuing media storm: “The problem with this report is that none of it is true.”

In Sicily, the temperature over the weekend reached just 32 °C – a far cry from the 48 °C that illustrates the large difference between the temperature at the surface and the measured values at 2 metres above the ground.

Once the fraud was exposed, Spiegel quietly changed the wording in its 14 July report:

The image was cropped from Achtung Reichelt.

Spiegel changed the text (left) from 48 °C with “many deaths from the heat” to (right): “48 °C …but that the measured values did not correspond to the normal air temperature – which can be considerably lower.”

Clearly the authorities and the media are trying to pull a fast trick on the public, but they have been caught out again by attentive readers.

Originally published on Watts Up With That

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