NOAA Adjusts the Data

Chaos Manor View, Friday, June 05, 2015

Today I need to work on LisaBetta, a near future (bureaucratic Earth, some asteroid mining colonies, no faster than light travel) novel John DeChancie and I are writing. It should be a pretty good yarn.


Global warming ‘hiatus’ puts climate change scientists on the spot

September 20, 2013

By Monte Morin

It’s a climate puzzle that has vexed scientists for more than a decade and added fuel to the arguments of those who insist man-made global warming is a myth.

Since just before the start of the 21st century, the Earth’s average global surface temperature has failed to rise despite soaring levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases and years of dire warnings from environmental advocates.

Now, as scientists with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change gather in Sweden this week to approve portions of the IPCC’s fifth assessment report, they are finding themselves pressured to explain this glaring discrepancy.

The panel, a United Nations creation that shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore, hopes to brief world leaders on the current state of climate science in a clear, unified voice.

That was the headline in Sept. 2013. We wondered how NOAA and the climate scientists would react. Today we find out.

New look at data finds no break in warming trend

June 5, 2015

By Monte Morin

(Front Page, LA Times)

Upon closer look, a global warming hiatus is ruled out, U.S. scientists say


Federal scientists studied temperature readings from ocean buoys and weather stations around the world and determined that global temperatures did not plateau at the turn of the century, as had been previously concluded.

(Linda Stratton / NOAA)

By Monte Morin

Contrary to prior reports, global temperatures did not stop rising around the turn of the century, study says

Detailed measurements of surface temperatures around the world show no break in decades-long warming trend

A fresh look at the way sea temperatures are measured has led government scientists to make a surprising claim: The puzzling apparent hiatus in global surface warming never really happened.

In a study published Thursday in the prestigious journal Science, researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration wrote that Earth’s global average surface temperature had climbed 0.2 of a degree Fahrenheit each decade since 1950, without interruption, due to the heat-trapping effects of greenhouse gases.

That conclusion seemingly negated an awkward piece of evidence in the debate over whether human activity is indeed warming the planet.

There are other interpretations.

Brazen, outright scientific fraud.



Roland Dobbins

And when it is all done, the adjustment amounted to 0.03 degrees. Three hundredths of a degree. But they found what they were looking for, a way to adjust the data that had the science establishment in great fear of a returning Ice Age in the 1970’s.


“I don’t find this analysis at all convincing,” said Judith Curry, a climatologist at Georgia Tech who argues that natural variability in climate cycles dominates the impact of industrial emissions and other human actions. “While I’m sure this latest analysis from NOAA will be regarded as politically useful for the Obama administration, I don’t regard it as a particularly useful contribution to our scientific understanding of what is going on.”

Global warming ‘hiatus’ puts climate change scientists on the spot

Researchers representing the scientific mainstream also rejected the idea that global surface temperatures never stopped rising.

“It’s always good to go back and look at the data as carefully as possible and make sure it’s calibrated correctly,” said William Patzert, a climatologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge. “But the hiatus is history and it was real.”

“I don’t find this analysis at all convincing,” said Judith Curry, a climatologist at Georgia Tech who argues that natural variability in climate cycles dominates the impact of industrial emissions and other human actions. “While I’m sure this latest analysis from NOAA will be regarded as politically useful for the Obama administration, I don’t regard it as a particularly useful contribution to our scientific understanding of what is going on.”


This, combined with the fact that ships now sample a smaller area of the world’s oceans, have skewed the data toward cooler temperatures, they say.

Also, though it had long been assumed that ships measured seawater temperature with engine intake thermometers — an innovation that began after World War II — that is not the case, Karl said. Instead, some ships still scoop up seawater in canvas or metal buckets.

“The buckets, when you pull them up, tend to evaporate their water, and if they’re canvas there’s even more evaporation,” Karl said. “By the time people stick a thermistor in the bucket to measure temperature, it’s already slightly cool.”

To correct for the discrepancy between bucket and engine measurements, Karl and his colleagues used nighttime air temperature readings taken from the deck of the ship to calibrate the readings.

This is worth reflecting on. Bring up a bucket and stick in a thermistor – assuming you have one. Instruments which even read to hundredths of a degree cost hundreds to thousands of dollars ant require calibration. I doubt that many commercial ships employ them now, and I am certain they did not in 1970, when they would have cost even more. I am fairly certain Naval warships don’t have them, either in intake valves or portable for sticking in buckets.

We used Yellow Springs Instrument Company (of Yellow Springs, Ohio) thermistor probes to take the internal temperature – anal probe – of the astronauts as we tested equipment – and astronaut – heat tolerance of up to 400 degrees F. The probes were accurate to .0.05 degrees C, and were the best we could obtain at the time. They were also expensive and I doubt any were used for sea temperatures; they were expensive. I see they make thermistors accurate to 0.05 degrees C to this day. Accuracies to several thousandths of a degree are now available but at a considerable price, and I am sure few if any are carried on commercial or navy ships; and I am damned sure they were not aboard any ships including NOAA research vessels prior to 1990.

We calibrated our instruments by measuring the temperature of melting ice – ice made with distilled water. I don’t know how to use night air on the deck to calibrate to any tenth of a degree or for that matter to nearest degree.

The point being that we don’t know to any three tenths of a degree what the Earth’s temperature was in 1950, and we don’t know it now; but if you draw a straight line between what we think the temperature was in 1890 to what we think it is today – using their data – you get a rising trend line as everyone knows you will, but there was a period when it went down a lot following World War II, then began slowly climbing again; and the only explanation the experts have is to manipulate the data until the trends change.

And they want to bet $billions on this “science”?


of course there’s this

It’s been a rough week for climate change deniers.

First, a paper came out basically destroying claims by a group of deniers that climate models “ran hot”, that is, always overestimated the amount the world is warming. It turns out the claim was fundamentally flawed in numerous ways, which isn’t terribly surprising. You can read all about it at that link.

But the bigger news is that a new paper has been published showing that the global warming “hiatus” or “pause” or whatever you want to call it doesn’t exist.

and this

 Subject: No warming pause


Which demonstrate you can prove anything if you can manipulate your data. But then we have always known that. When it was shown that many of the land temperature stations were almost certainly giving incorrect data – they were originally in open areas, and are now in highly urban areas – it was decided that adjustments were not necessary.  But of course that can’t be as important as the possibility – not demonstrated, but possible – of canvas buckets. But it’s all right, those deniers had their minds made up already, unlike the Believers. This is science, after all, and all those AAAS sessions about the coming Ice Age and the Genesis Strategy didn’t really happen.

Of course none address the fact that there is no new data, merely manipulation of the older observations, and none of them are accurate to tenths of a degree – which is what they adjusted the data to find.

We know that in 1776 cannon were dragged across the Hudson River on the ide.  We know that the Vikings had dairy farms in Greenland and called Nova Scotia Vineland where they grew grapes.  Greenland has never been as warm, and the Hudson doesn’t freeze hard enough to hold up cannon.  I can guess temperatures from those facts, but I wouldn’t expect them to be accurate to a degree, much less tenths of a degree.


There’s obviously a lot of work involved in working out who’s right, and there are other measurement sets (land, satellite, ARGO) which are still definitely showing a pronounced slowing of temperature rise, but – the idea of what NOAA did is not unreasonable. They compared ship measurements with buoy measurements when they had both in the same place and time. They found that the ship measurements were 0.12C higher on average than the buoy measurements. Something needs to give: either lower the ship measurements, or raise the buoy measurements – or accept that you have switched in the middle with a noticeable bias. Now in the past, ship measurements were frequent; now, buoy measurements are frequent, and the imbalance is growing. It is natural that trying to correct such a bias is going to create a temperature trend that you didn’t see before.


Certainly; but they had a conclusion and adjusted the data; that is not in the rules.  They discovered more reasons for uncertainty, not better data; they can change the conclusions because of the increased uncertainty, but they could only change to less certainty; instead they seem now to have MORE certainty.

But they knew the conclusion regardless of the data. they can’t do that. They discovered uncertainties in the data; that makes the conclusion less certain.


Isis and Iraq 

Dear Dr. Pournelle, 
There are a couple of articles on the subject I believe you will find of interest. 
The first is an article on the role of western intelligence — especially, Turkey — in fostering ISIS
The second is a discussion of the failures of the Iraqi army
So, from these things I draw a few conclusions:
1) No one in Iraq is willing to fight for the central government; that is how 150 fighters can route 5000 men armed and supplied by the US. The Peshmerga will fight for Kurdistan, the Shiites will fight for their neighborhoods, the Sunnis will fight for themselves. They’re all fighting each other, but no one’s interested in the central government. 
2) Our own ability to pick and choose winners in these struggles is extremely limited; many of the “moderates” we pick turn out to be extremists, and the real moderates are badly handicapped by US policies.  
Unfortunately, we can’t simply leave this mess alone; leaving them alone won’t stop them from, say, hijacking airplanes and flying in the buildings. That’s the problem with peace — the other side has to be willing to let you surrender and leave the field. That can’t happen. Like it or not, Saudi Arabia et al are part of the world economy, all that oil makes that part of the world important, and Israel is still there just waiting to eat a hydrogen bomb from the first non-Jewish people able to develop one and crazy enough to use it. 
So we can’t simply walk away from this.  
Nor do we, as a country, have the will to send in the troops and occupy Iraq and Syria long-term.  It’s what the Romans would have done, but we won’t.
So what’s left? The only thing I can think of is hope from some Bonapartish military dictator who wants to rule the whole mess , and allow him to conquer the territory, imposing his rule on the restive minorities by brute force.  Saddam II, in other words.  And then HE will be a security threat as well. 
Another alternative: Instead of trying to construct a healthy Iraq, deliberately destabilize the situation further, so that the entire region tears itself apart. If they’re busy killing each other they won’t have time to plot terrorist actions against Israel or the US.   The downside of that is , eventually, all civil wars end, often with the most extreme and virulent group triumphant.  
I’m leaning towards a Saddam II, if we can find one.  Seems a pity we killed the last one.
Creating a western democracy in Iraq, a la West Germany or Japan, would have been ideal. However, for roughly the same time we occupied Japan and Germany, we failed utterly to recreate those conditions. Why?  Do we have the will to try again?
Somehow I doubt it.
So in the absence of full-scale invasion and occupation, we are reduced to a hunt for proxies who won’t do what we want but will be marginally less bad than the alternatives.
What do you think?

Brian P.

A reasonable summary.  But if we do nothing for a while, we won’t have anything to do…






Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.




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