Feeds

NASA's curious climate capers

Computer says: It's getting warmer

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Application security programs and practises

In 2007, while examining GISS data, McIntyre caught what turned out to be, of all things, a "Y2K" code error that forced a GISS to change the hottest year on US record to 1934. (Subsequent "improvements" have rectified this situation and 1934 reigns no more, but is tied with 1998.)

Dr Hansen had refused to release his adjustment code, but the Y2K incident caused him to relent. He provided a dump of undocumented, non-working FORTRAN code which Climate Audit coders, after much time and effort, eventually managed to get running.

It became apparent that Hansen's code that adjusted for missing data (FILNET) had arbitrarily adjusted the 20th Century temperature trend upwards several times by 0.1°C at regular intervals - with no explanation.

(GISS takes NOAA adjusted data and applies an "unadjustment" procedure; why they do not simply start with NOAA raw data remains a mystery. They then apply their own adjustments. GISS UHI adjustment is particularly controversial, since many cities are adjusted warmer, not cooler, as one would expect from urban heat island effect.)

And Steven Goddard reported here how the historical data has been altered since 2000.

Methods in the spotlight

Yes, GISS-adjusted historical data matches fairly well with that of the NOAA. But NOAA 20th century raw data trend is adjusted upwards by about 0.3°C. Missing data fill-in (FILNET) and Station history adjustment (SHAP) are both upward. But common sense tells us that the former should be near-neutral (interpolation) and the latter downward (poor station siting and urban creep having introduced often severe warming biases over the years).

In addition, NOAA's adjustment for Urban Heat Island (UHI) over the entire 20th century is an insignificant -0.06°C. Yet papers by McKitrick and Michaels [abstract - background] and by LaDochy et al [abstract] in late 2007 indicate that NASA and NOAA adjustment methods may exaggerate warming trends by a factor of two. (LaDochy estimates UHI trends are x2 during the day and x5 at night. If true, current UHI adjustment is too small.)

GISS makes unannounced, unexplained changes, and this practice is confusing and gets in the way of scholarship. GISS calibrates its data to 0.01°C. This implies a very high degree of accuracy and low margin of error. But their aggregate adjustments add up to tens of times greater than this scale. Therefore to provide data in hundredths of a degree is a clear case of misplaced precision.

Hansen's role as the director in charge of the evidence of climate change has also caused controversy. It was Hansen who gave the issue national prominence during the 1988 Senate hearings. Recently he has urged trials for "climate criminals" - energy executives who disagree with his hypothesis and policy prescription (for Hansen has both). Hansen traveled to England to testify for the defence of environmental activists who vandalized a coal power station.

Whatever their point of view, scientists' data, methods, and procedures should be properly archived and open to all. And as Dr. Hansen is, after all, a public servant in charge of a vitally important set of data, this imperative would seem to apply doubly. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Flamewars in SPAAACE: cooler fires hint at energy efficiency
Experiment aboard ISS shows we should all chill out for cleaner engines
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.