Not satisfied with existing research showing that Earth is in fact markedly warming post-Industrial Revolution, the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project set out to find out for themselves what's really going on. They even got more than $100,000 from the climate change denying Koch brothers to help.
The result, as the BBC says, "a graph remarkably similar to those produced by the world's three most important and established groups [NOAA, NASA, and the Met Office and Climatic Research Unit], work had been decried as unreliable and shoddy in climate skeptic circles."
In short, the BEST study essentially confirms that, yes, Earth is getting warmer.
In determining that, the project examined more than a billion temperature records going back to the 1800s, from 15 different sources around the world, and found that since the 1950s average global land temperature has risen by roughly 1°C. This is "on the high end of the existing range of reconstructions," the study says.
Importantly, the study found that while the overall warming for the 20th century averaged to 0.73°C, from 1960-2000 the average rate was 2.76°C, and from 1998-2010 it was 2.84°C.
Heat Island Effect Neglible In Overall Warming, And Skewing Climate Models
The study also examined the urban heat island effect -- something which climate skeptics cite as invalidating evidence of warming -- and found that it had a "nearly negligible" effect on the overall warming trend. Though some stations may yield less accurate results due to the heat island effect, these stations didn't affect the trend.
Hardcore Skeptics Likely Not To Be Convinced
While no doubt this new study will do little sway many die-hard climate skeptics, and in fairness it did not examine whether humans were causing the observed warming, it's an important study nevertheless.
As for the already evident backlash against the study, I'll just leave you with a good quote from NASA's James Hansen. Remember that roughly 97% of climate scientists are convinced both that climate change is happening and human activity is the primary cause of it. Hansen says,
As I have discussed in the past, the deniers, or contrarians, if you will, do not act as scientists, but rather as lawyers. As soon as they see evidence against their client -- the fossil fuel industry and those people making money off business-as-usual -- they trash that evidence and bring forth whatever tidbits they can find to confuse the judge and jury. (The Guardian)