Sunday, November 16, 2008

Yet More Bogus “Global Warming” Data

From the Telegraph:
A surreal scientific blunder last week raised a huge question mark about the temperature records that underpin the worldwide alarm over global warming. On Monday, Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), which is run by Al Gore’s chief scientific ally, Dr James Hansen, and is one of four bodies responsible for monitoring global temperatures, announced that last month was the hottest October on record.

This was startling. Across the world there were reports of unseasonal snow and plummeting temperatures last month, from the American Great Plains to China, and from the Alps to New Zealand. China’s official news agency reported that Tibet had suffered its “worst snowstorm ever.” In the US, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration registered 63 local snowfall records and 115 lowest-ever temperatures for the month, and ranked it as only the 70th-warmest October in 114 years.

So what explained the anomaly? GISS’s computerised temperature maps seemed to show readings across a large part of Russia had been up to 10 degrees higher than normal. But when expert readers of the two leading warming-sceptic blogs, Watts Up With That and Climate Audit, began detailed analysis of the GISS data they made an astonishing discovery. The reason for the freak figures was that scores of temperature records from Russia and elsewhere were not based on October readings at all. Figures from the previous month had simply been carried over and repeated two months running.

The error was so glaring that when it was reported on the two blogs - run by the US meteorologist Anthony Watts and Steve McIntyre, the Canadian computer analyst who won fame for his expert debunking of the notorious “hockey stick” graph - GISS began hastily revising its figures. This only made the confusion worse because, to compensate for the lowered temperatures in Russia, GISS claimed to have discovered a new “hotspot” in the Arctic - in a month when satellite images were showing Arctic sea-ice recovering so fast from its summer melt that three weeks ago it was 30 per cent more extensive than at the same time last year.

A GISS spokesman lamely explained that the reason for the error in the Russian figures was that they were obtained from another body, and that GISS did not have resources to exercise proper quality control over the data it was supplied with. This is an astonishing admission: the figures published by Dr Hansen’s institute are not only one of the four data sets that the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) relies on to promote its case for global warming, but they are the most widely quoted, since they consistently show higher temperatures than the others.

If there is one scientist more responsible than any other for the alarm over global warming it is Dr Hansen, who set the whole scare in train back in 1988 with his testimony to a US Senate committee chaired by Al Gore. Again and again, Dr Hansen has been to the fore in making extreme claims over the dangers of climate change. (He was recently in the news here for supporting the Greenpeace activists acquitted of criminally damaging a coal-fired power station in Kent, on the grounds that the harm done to the planet by a new power station would far outweigh any damage they had done themselves.)

Yet last week’s latest episode is far from the first time Dr Hansen’s methodology has been called in question. In 2007 he was forced by Mr Watts and Mr McIntyre to revise his published figures for US surface temperatures, to show that the hottest decade of the 20th century was not the 1990s, as he had claimed, but the 1930s.

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3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The piece you cite is an attempt to make a mountain out a molehill. As the science gets stronger, the deniers are left grasping at minor mistakes and claiming they show they that global warming science is "bogus".

It is admitted by all involved (that's the way science, as opposed to punditry, works) that there was a mistake in the data sent to the GISS. GISS should have caught the mistake and is ultimately responsible. Yet the author provides no evidence whatsoever that Hansen's methodology is bad, nor that the discovery of this mistake has any consequences whatsoever for the state of the debate about global warming. To be sure, it is to the credit of researchers who want to discredit global warming science that they discovered this mistake. But the discovery of this mistake is a far cry from discrediting global warming science more generally. The title of your post is a perfect example of the sort of mountain deniers want to make out of molehills like this. The suggestion is that most of the science is bogus. But again, this is simply an argument from anecdote.

And by the way, I think it is a little misleading to say something is from the Guardian (which is a respectable newspaper) when it is really from an opinion piece. It's like asserting something as fact because it was stated in the New York Times when it was something that came out of the mouth of the reality-challenged Bill Kristol.

And another thing, this Booker guy who wrote the piece you quote has about the same track record of getting things right that Kristol does. Google the words "Booker" and "asbestos", if you want some examples.

8:50 PM  
Anonymous gus said...

I believe Mr.Obama said sea levels would lower once he was in power.
So this may be the last time I get to Polar Bear in Lake Michigan before it becomes a wheat field.

9:51 PM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

But the discovery of this mistake is a far cry from discrediting global warming science more generally.

But what if there is "mistake" after "mistake?"

What if all of them favor the anthropogenic global warming thesis?

Doesn't the enterprise lose credibility after a while?

Do you agree that the "hockey stick" was bogus?

Do you admit that the 1930s were the hotest decade of the 20th Century?

Your statements about Kristol imply that this is, for you, about ideology and not pure science.

11:40 AM  

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