Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Once again, with feeling - the climate temperature databases are lousy

I've said over and over again that the temperature databases are lousy.  Interestingly, the input data for those databases are only a little lousy.  Sure, sometimes there are gaps in a station's data set, and sometimes stations are re-sited (or given different measuring equipment) and the new isn't calibrated with the old.  But we can all live with some of that, because in the long run, it's a minor variation that will still let us see the overall climate change signal.

My problem is the adjustments made to the input (or "raw") data.  These adjustments appear arbitrary, they are poorly explained (if they are indeed explained at all), and the scientific establishment seems to have no intention at all of quality controlling the data.  Indeed, the CRU data set (this is from the "hide the decline" crowd) doesn't even have the original data any more - they threw the backup tapes out some time ago, only keeping the adjusted (or "value added" in their terminology) data.  This is the data set that the IPCC relies on for its reports, and it's entirely impossible to check to see if it's valid.

So for other data sets where the raw data still exists, how does the adjusted data compare?  And here we start to see how the game is played:
A team of independent auditors, bloggers and scientists went through the the BOM [Australian Bureau of Meterology - Borepatch] “High Quality” (HQ) dataset and found significant errors, omissions and inexplicable adjustments. The team and Senator Cory Bernardi put in a Parliamentary request to get our Australian National Audit Office to reassess the BOM records. In response, the BOM, clearly afraid of getting audited, and still not providing all the data, code and explanations that were needed, decided to toss out the old so called High Quality (HQ) record, and start again. The old HQ increased the trends by 40% nationally, and 70% in the cities.
And a picture is worth a thousand words:

"But surely," I hear you say, "this is a one-off, a 'black swan', a one of a kind mistake.  You're cherry picking, Borepatch."  No, I'm not (and please don't call me Shirley):

Darwin, Australia:

Brisbane, Australia:

West Point, NY (raw data):

Detroit, MI (raw data):

New Zealand:

The entire continental US over the entire 20th Century:

The New Zealand case was interesting: an outside group sued the New Zealand Weather Bureau under the Freedom of Information Act to get the data for the official government data set - the same data set that the government had announced with great fanfare showed big, big warming over the course of the last century.  In their Court pleading, the government renounced the database entirely.  It seems that suddenly there is no "official" New Zealand government temperature database.

Hide the Decline, indeed.  In other news from the Antipodes, it seems that we've always been at war with Oceania.

In every one of these cases, the adjustments have made older readings colder, and newer readings warming.  In each of these cases, the entirety of the 20th Century's warming signal disappears when you remove the adjustments.  This isn't just cherry picking, it's continent-wide readings (Oz + New Zealand and the USA) over an entire century.

So is the climate getting warmer?  Maybe.  But it looks like the data do not show this, or if they do it's with major qualification.  So why make the changes, and how were the changes made?  Nobody will say.

Once again, with feeling: nobody will say.

That's one righteous case of "the science is settled," right there.  And when someone does expose corruption in the scientific establishment, they get fired.  It's no wonder that the first major skeptic blog was named Climate Audit - the establishment won't audit themselves.  And that is the most important reason that you should be skeptical of the whole thing.  Until the establishment comes clean and allows a proper audit of the science and the data, the whole thing should be presumed to be a too-comfortable scheme milking the governments of part of that sweet, sweet $100 Billion in grant funding.  No wonder they're changing the data.

And lest you think that I'm being overly harsh, remember "hide the decline"?  Know why they hid the decline?  Because it showed that the temperature had been falling for the last 50 years.

Anyone who ever uttered the words "Republican war on science" can shut up and sit down in the back of the room.  Grown ups are talking.


New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

If 'Climate Deniers' were really the Lying Liars the Chicken Littles insisted they were, they'd post the data after their OWN adjustments downward. So there would be 3 sets. The upward faked warming trend, the downward faked cooling trend, and the flat raw data.

ProudHillbilly said...

Things that can be hyped get Congressional attention. Congress may not understand science, but it understands hype. Getting Congresses attention means getting funding. Funding means being able to pay salaries, etc. Boring doesn't pay salaries, hype does.