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Ocean surface temperatures on April 6 2015. Credit: Kevin Gill/Flickr
16 January 2015 11:40

Roz Pidcock

Roz Pidcock

Global temperature Explainer: How do scientists measure global temperature?

Every year around this time, there’s a flurry of activity in the world’s major meteorological agencies as they prepare to release official global temperature figures for the previous year.

This year, there’s particular interest as it looks likely 2014 will be the hottest year on record.

First out the blocks with the official data was the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA). Earlier this month, it confirmed 2014 had cheap sale new arrival hot sale cheap online Madagascar Platform Sandals Orange 100% Original outlet 2014 newest bTGqgo
with global temperatures 0.27 degrees Celsius above the long-term average. Today, it’s the turn of NASA and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, with the UK Met Office following suit next week.

Why so many records? While global temperature is a simple enough idea, measuring it is harder than you might think. We take a look at how scientists measure global temperature.

To get a complete picture of Earth’s temperature, scientists combine measurements from the air above land and the ocean surface collected by ships, buoys and sometimes satellites, too.

The temperature at each land and ocean station is compared daily to what is ‘normal’ for that location and time, typically the long-term average over a 30-year period. The differences are called an ‘anomalies’ and they help scientists evaluate how temperature is changing over time.

A ‘positive’ anomaly means the temperature is warmer than the long-term average, a ‘negative’ anomaly means it’s cooler.

Daily anomalies are averaged together over a whole month. These are, in turn, used to work out temperature anomalies from season-to-season and year-to-year.

Scientists use four major datasets to study global temperature. The UK Met Office Hadley Centre and the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit jointly produce HadCRUT4 .

In the US, the GISTEMP series comes via the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Sciences (), while the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration () creates the MLOST record. The Japan Meteorological Agency ( ) produces a fourth dataset.

Here’s how global temperatures in the four datasets compare over the past 130 years. You can see they all show a warming trend, but there are some year-to-year differences too.

The problems set in from the opening weekend of the tournament, when football fans started complaining of error messages and dropouts while trying to stream the Egypt versus Uruguay match (a game only available through the app).

Australians feel these dropouts keenly. If we're watching an international sporting event, chances are we stayed up 'til A Million O'Clock curled up in our Ugg Boots and doona on the couch, thanks to our ridiculous time zone. We are serious about watching sport live -- to use another Aussie phrase, we didn't come here to f*** spiders.*

(*International readers note: A 100 percent real Australian phrase. Basically, "We're not here to mess around.")

After initially offering apologies on social media and promising to fix the experience, Optus held a late evening media call to advise it would be simulcasting 48 hours of games on SBS . The network that had sold off the rights was now getting its games back.

One week later, after mea culpas from Optus CEO Allen Lew and more promises to fix the network, Optus confirmed SBS would simulcast the games until the end of the knockout stages . They also dropped the paywall on the app, giving it to all Australians for free.

Finally, on Thursday, Optus capitulated completely. While the Optus app would still offer free streaming, SBS would get all games for the remainder of the Cup on broadcast TV.

More World Cup reading

The Optus story is a valuable lesson for any carrier trying to jump on the media train in the digital era. We've seen it elsewhere, with tech companies trying to land sports rights (see Twitter and the NFL ), comms companies trying their hand at media (see ATT's merger with Time Warner ) and carriers trying to diversify their offering by selling content, not just the means of consuming it.

Recognising the threat of streaming, tech companies and carriers are eager to add another string to their bow and start offering content. But if your legacy is in poles and wires, and your streaming offering has hitherto offered niche sports or select games and even then only to a select group (in Optus' case, English Premier League games available only to Optus customers), you're a long way from building Netflix-level scale.

That's not to mention the fact that delays and dropouts can leave fans out of sync with the live broadcast. In a world where fans are tweeting every goal and creating memes in seconds to share with other fans, your stream has to be live. Not negotiable.

Streaming tech company Ooyala sent out a warning to TV networks at the start of the World Cup that this year's event "may well be the last hurrah for traditional broadcasters against mounting pressures from OTT [over the top] streaming services."

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Several colleges are debating "affirmative consent" policies, where all sex is considered rape unless both parties actively, enthusiastically consent to each stage. Many people support these policies (now law in California schools, statewide), because we have to do something about sexual assault, and this is something. Others say the policies presume guilt , hold a narrow view of sex, and do nothing about malicious assault. Well, Tim's story is a case where he didn't get that consent, but he kept going purely because he didn't get a hard no either.

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It was summer, between semesters. The man we're calling "Tim" and his college friend we'll call "Vicky" went out for the night to a couple of bars. (Note: They both attend a Catholic school -- we're just offering that as background.) By 1:30 a.m., they were back at her place, sprawled on the couch and watching DVDs. He started rubbing her back. Thus began the "absolute biggest mistake" of Tim's life.

According to Tim, his hands moved down to the seat of her jeans. Sensing no objection after some tentative rubbing, he then reached inside them. At one point, she shifted, perhaps toward him. He rubbed her breasts next, over the shirt, then under the shirt, then under the bra, receiving no objection at each stage. She faced the TV, so, he says, he couldn't see her eyes for most of this. When he could, they were closed, but this didn't worry him; he closed his for a while too. This all went on for an hour or so.

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This is not a unique set of non-repeatable events; it's actually frequent enough that it's the exact premise of this P.S.A.

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"Even at the time," he says, "I knew that she was religious and that she would never engage in any sort of sex with me. She was a good girl. ... I would have never done anything that I thought she didn't want. I also realize that last part makes me sound like a lot of rapists."

The reality is that Vicky didn't respond because she awoke to Tim touching her and then froze in fear until he finally got up to eject the DVD. If you find this petrified reaction baffling, we're guessing you don't spend much time with potential partners vastly stronger than you. And if that's because you're a male, take a moment and go ask the nearest female if she understands.

Tim hugged Vicky before he took off, and back in his room, he texted her, complete with a smiling emoji. The next day, one of her friends approached him and told him, much to his surprise, that people had gone to jail for doing what he'd just done.

Randy Risling/Toronto Star/Getty Images

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