Minor Victory or Convenient Spin?

Wed, 2007-08-15 10:34Emily Murgatroyd
Emily Murgatroyd's picture

Minor Victory or Convenient Spin?

It's not surprising that a quickly acknowledged and corrected discrepancy in temperature recording by NASA was pounced on by the denier camp to further the proof that global warming is a hoax! Unsurprisingly, the reports have been biased and have omitted certain key facts, not the least of which is that the GLOBAL temperature record (it is after all, global warming) remains largely unaffected by the corrected data.

New Republic has published an excellent review of the facts using - wait for it - scientific data!

Comments

Also, I think it would be best if you, Paul, updated yourself on the science of climate change. You seem not to know what is going on and seem fixated on the “Oh, the Ice Age is coming!” 1975 Newsweek article, which wasn’t exactly supported by the majority of climatologists.

You fail to realize that every argument the “skeptics” have made has been debunked. See here for proof: http://gristmill.grist.org/skeptics

There is no Ice Age coming Stephen, where did you get a foolish idea like that?

Where did you get the foolish idea that AGW isn’t happening, Paul?

I don’t know why anyone is even having this discussion. I don’t see why Hansen should have issued a press conference when correcting his figures; he’s a scientist, not a politician.

As to *which* “deniers” were pouncing on the correction, Rush Limbaugh was definitely one, saying “The man-made global warming is inside NASA. The man-made global warming is in the scientific community with false data.”

Also, ” Fox News reported Aug. 9 that ‘the discovery of an embarrassing temperature error rained on their (the ‘alarmists’) parade’ ” (Interpress Service).
But my feeling is just let them prattle on. The Science is in. It’s going to get hot. We’re getting Central Air.

Oh, and another thing: The Chinese are building dams and levees. We really need to watch what they do. They’re very practical, as a nation.

In news reports about China being hit by typhoons this past year, they were said to have evacuated millions of people from the coast. Too bad the Americans couldn’t manage to do that with New Orleans.

Hansen is “a scientist, not a politician.”

If that’s true, his first obligation was to acknowledge the error which, to his credit, he did. Politicians were making hay with the previously reported data and warmists were incessantly pointing to the “warmest year on record” to bolster their case. A little truth and accuracy can have a salutary effect on public discourse.

I agree that, from a technical standpoint, the 0.15 degrees error isn’t a big deal, but to the warmist evangelists with their raving “warmest decade” bulldust, it’s a major setback.

I further contend that, whether in North America or worldwide, the temperature variances that have been booted about for the past 15 years are almost meaningless. Prior to the advent of digital instruments which are read to 0.1°C, temperatures on conventional thermometers were read to the nearest degree F in the English speaking world. (I don’t know how accurately temperatures in centigrade countries were read prior to the new technology.)

The bottom line is that the long-term averages are no more accurate than ± 1.0°F, notwithstanding attempts to massage them with elaborate computer programs.

When you have large numbers of measurements taken with instruments of 1 deg. precision, you can get estimates of much greater precision. See http://tamino.wordpress.com/2007/07/05/the-power-of-large-numbers/ for a demonstration of this principle.

And then there’s the matter of nearly 40 years of satellite measurements confirming the temperature increases recorded by surface stations over that period.

matter of nearly 40 years

Correction: That should be “nearly *30* years”.

Great post!

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Steven McIntyre interview on BBC Radio Four ‘Today’ programme ~ 6.52 a.m. 17 August 2007
Link valid until expiry Monday 20th August.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/today/listenagain/ram/today1_sixthirty_20070813.ram
Interviewer
A blogger in Toronto has caused an international stir over climate change. Steven McIntyre discovered that some of the measurements used by NASA to track average annual temperatures in the US were, to put it bluntly – wrong. The leaps over the last few years have not been as dramatic as previously thought. Global Warming sceptics in America are delighted.
Steven McIntyre explained to me how he spotted NASA’s mistakes.
McIntyre
I compared the input data that NASA was using for US temperature to the original data in that was archived at other sources. When I made those comparisons, I noticed that there was a sharp jump in 2004 mini-series and the jump was up to one degree centigrade for some stations in the US, it was a negative jump in other stations.
Interviewer
And this was because NASA had not adjusted their figures correctly, is that right?
McIntyre
What they had done is they used one version of US data before 2000 and a different version after 2000. The version before 2000 had certain adjustments in it, the version after 2000 didn’t have those adjustments in it.
Interviewer
And what sort of adjustments are we talking about?
McIntyre
At the level of an individual station, the jump could be as much as one degree centigrade. For the United States temperature history as a whole, the jump was about point one five degrees centigrade, which compares to a increase of about half a degree for the entire century, so relative to the reported US increase, it wasn’t a small adjustment.
Interviewer
So the conclusion that you drew was essentially that the world, or America at least is not getting hotter at the rate that others had previously assumed.
McIntyre
When I examined the changes that NASA made to their yearly rankings after they corrected this error: four of the top ten warmest years were in the thirties, whereas only three of the of the top ten were in the last ten years.
Interviewer
So your conclusions is that the trend is till up, but not just quite as sharp as most people originally thought it was.
McIntyre
As to what trend exists in the US data, one would have to enquire very closely as to why the nineteen thirties were so warm, relative to the modern period. And one thing that people should keep in mind is that NASA adjusts the temperature and the adjustments can be almost as large as the effect that’s being measured, so that the adjustments can be half a degree per century, where the observed warming is half a degree. What I think is necessary is that there should be very careful scrutiny of how temperatures are measured over time, how we know whether the nineteen thirties compared to the two thousands and here we run into the problem that many of the weather stations are not meeting World Meteorological Organisation Standards. For example, the station in the US with the highest increase: the sensor is located in a parking lot in Tucson and if you can picture a worse environment for having a unbiased temperature reading than having a sensor above asphalt in Tucson in the Summer day, it’s hard for me to imagine.
Interviewer
Steven McIntyre, Thank-you very much.

Punctuation has been added for readability.

Steven McIntyre has a dig at weather station data

I rather rushed the transcript, it’s correct [I checked it carefully], but the punctuation is not as good as it could be.

I have recorded the McIntyre BBC Radio 4 interview 3.5 MB, so it might be made available. I’ll see! If I could post it here, I might.

The BBC only keeps this type of material on its website for 7 days, so grab it now before the link evaporates.

Steven McIntyre has a predictable dig at the meteorological station locations i.e. the Urban Heat Island effect. Why are scientists so dumb? Especially those at NASA!
If they’re so dumb, what does it say about the rest of us?

McIntyre knows how to impugn the reputations of climate scientists at NASA and virtually everywhere else by his nasty innuendos. What a shame that the rather accusatory triumvirate of S. McIntyre, R. McKitrick and P. Michaels have made quite so many bloopers!

One thing you have to admire about Steven McIntyre, he’s quite a politician when it comes to evading answering questions he doesn’t like!

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