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1:21pm, December 5, 2008
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NASA’s source
In “Cooling climate ‘consensus’ of 1970s never was” (SN: 10/25/08, p. 5), Science News includes a graph, attributed to NASA, that shows temperature deviations from the year 1880. The data clearly indicate a distinct warming trend throughout the period. Why is it that over the past two years I have very painstakingly researched the data from more than 200 weather stations from every continent, including more than 20 north of the Arctic Circle, and I haven’t found a single one that indicates a trend that even remotely resembles that represented by the graph in your article? The difference between my primary research and the data from NASA is disconcerting.

As a high school environmental science teacher, I don’t know whether to teach my students of the threat of global warming or of the terrible hoax being played by the world’s scientists in whom we entrust so much. Will someone please provide the locations of specific weather stations that indicate the trend shown by the NASA graph, instead of just showing NASA’s compilation of weather station data?
Edward Amatetti, Gaithersburg, Md.

The NASA graph depicts a year-by-year estimate of average global temperature, not the temperature recorded at any individual weather station. That estimate includes data gathered at more than 500 land-based weather stations, says Reto Ruedy, a mathematician and climate modeler at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City. Since December 1981, sea-surface temperatures have been estimated from satellite observations; before then, such data were gathered at sea by commercial and government research vessels. —Sid Perkins

How ThÄkur got its name
I read with interest the article “Other side of Mercury” (SN: 11/8/08, p. 8). In the article Ron Cowen mentions a crater named ThÄkur. This is a Bengali word, and I would appreciate if you can tell me some details about how this crater came to be named.
Madan Mukhopadhyay, Bakersfield, Calif.

According to planetary scientist Sean Solomon of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C., the name ThÄkur was chosen in the 1970s after images of Mercury were taken by the Mariner 10 craft. Mark Robinson of Arizona State University in Tempe provides more details: Craters are named for deceased artists, musicians, painters and authors who have made outstanding or fundamental contributions to their fields and have been recognized as historically significant figures for more than 50 years. According to the website planetarynames.wr.usgs.gov, this crater is named for a Bengalese poet, novelist and Nobel laureate.—Ron Cowen

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