Saturday, January 10, 2015

Neil Catto, an innumerate from WUWT, visits Central England

Sou | 5:11 AM Go to the first of 25 comments. Add a comment

The people who inhabit deniersville are strangely attracted to central England. They are fascinated by the surface temperature there. Today there's an article at WUWT by Neil Catto (archived here). Don't ask me who Neil Catto is - I haven't a clue.  His main claim to fame is that he was awarded the "dumbest article of the day" by HotWhopper in 2013 for innumeracy. He hasn't learned a thing.  Here is some of what he wrote this time around:
The CET record started in 1659 close to the minimum of the little ice age. As such, it is with no surprise that last year (2014) was the warmest on record. It would appear to be a natural recovery. The monthly mean temperature of 8.87 Deg C in 1659 has increased to 10.95 Deg C in 2014; which equates to 0.06 Deg C/decade.

Neil has a strange way of looking at things, doesn't he. The second sentence does not follow from the first. What would cause the temperature to rise after the Little Ice Age? Neil doesn't give any clues at all. He just thinks it would. All by itself. Neil believes in magic bouncing temperatures.

Even odder is that Neil writes that the record high for 2014 is no surprise. Compare and contrast deniers. You may recall how a couple of years ago, another denier at WUWT, Ed Hoskins, was saying how the world is heading for an ice age. And he based that prediction on the temperature in central England. Now we've got Neil Catto  claiming that it's no surprise that 2014 is the hottest year on record. Does that mean that the temperature of 2010 was a big surprise to him?  Have a look at the chart below and you'll see why I'm asking:

Data source: Met Office Hadley Centre

Now the scientists who've carefully examined the temperature records that make up the central England record have compiled a daily record from 1772 to the present. About the period prior to 1772, they wrote in a paper published in 1992:
Manley (1953) published a time series of monthly mean temperatures representative of central England for 1698- 1952, followed (Manley, 1974) by an extended and revised series for 1659- 1973. Up to 1814 his data are based mainly on overlapping sequences of observations from a variety of carefully chosen and documented locations. Up to 1722, available instrumental records fail to overlap, and Manley needed to use noninstrumental weather diaries, and to refer to the instrumental series for Utrecht compiled by Labrijn (1945), in order to make the monthly central England temperature (CET) series complete. Between 1723 and the 1760s there are no gaps in the composite instrumental record, but the observations generally were taken in unheated rooms rather than with a truly outdoor exposure. Manley (1952) used a few outdoor temperatures, observations of snow or sleet, and likely temperatures given the wind direction, to establish relationships between the unheated room and outdoor temperatures: these relationships were used to adjust the monthly unheated room data. Daily temperatures in unheated rooms are, however, not reliably convertible to daily outdoor values, because of the slow thermal response of the rooms. For this reason, no daily series truly representative of CET can begin before about 1770.

Given that, I've prepared an annual chart from 1772 to the present. I computed the anomaly from the twentieth century mean, and added a linear trendline from 1950 to the present:

The next thing I did was look at the decadal change. I think it makes it easier to see what's happened:

Data source: Met Office Hadley Centre

By now you'll have twigged that the temperature of central England has been shooting up. A lot. If you're like Neil Catto and are of the opinion that temperature can keep going in the one direction all by itself, with nothing to force it, then I suggest you take up another interest. Climate isn't your thing. The land and air just above it is like anything else. To get hotter takes energy. (Ask the person who made your coffee this morning if they had to heat up the water or if they just added water and it got hot all by itself. )

Befuddled by CET annual average adjustments

Neil didn't write a long article, but he seemed a bit put out that the CET record has been changed from when he looked at it in May 2013. He even went to the trouble of preparing a chart, showing the difference between the annual temperatures as listed in May 2013 and those reported in January 2014. Here is his chart:

Source: WUWT

You may have to click on the chart to see the scale on the Y axis. It's minute. The very highest difference in any year is 0.08°C, in 1947. Neil explained what he found and asked three questions:
It is noticeable that nearly every adjustment is positive, with no negative changes. The whole data set shows an average increase of 0.03 Deg C in 20 months or equivalent to 0.18 Deg C/decade.
  • What is the reason for these data adjustments?
  • How often and by how much are these data adjusted?
  • Is this anthropogenic warming caused by man-made adjustments?

I also had an older set of data and found that the average change over all years was 0.028°C.  Now I don't know the reason for the data adjustments but I can hazard a guess. The reason must have been that there was a change to the way the annual average was computed. The reason I say this is because when I looked at the monthly data, there was no change at all. Zero difference. Zilch. The monthly temperature for each month for all years was identical. The only change was in the annual temperature. As Neil wrote, "nearly every adjustment is positive". Duh - yes! That means that roughly the same change was applied across the entire record. It's not as if there was a trend in the adjustments. The adjustments to all years was up a tad, so the trend didn't change. The monthly temperature didn't change. It was only the computed annual temperature that was adjusted.

I figure that Neil Catto doesn't have a head for numbers. Why he didn't check the monthly data I cannot say. If the monthly data didn't change, then neither did the daily. If Neil had computed annual anomalies then he'd see practically no difference at all.

There's more evidence that Neil has no head for numbers. Earlier in his article he wrote:
...In 1739 Mount Tarumae in Japan erupted with a VEI force 5. The mean monthly CET temperature in 1739 was 9.21 Deg C, in 1740 there was a significant drop to 6.84 Deg C à and in 1741 a recovery to 9.32 Deg C. This natural occurrence had the equivalent drop in temperature of -23.5 Deg C/decade and recovery of 24.6 Deg C/decade. With a natural variation of this magnitude I never understand the alarm about 2.0 deg C/decade, human life survived and exponentially grew in numbers.

This is what he's talking about:

Data source: Met Office Hadley Centre

Parker et al didn't cover that period, and from what they wrote, the actual temperature changes back then can't be relied upon. Even so, it's quite conceivable that 1740 was a very cold year. But really - would you be extrapolating a drop from one year to the next to a trend per decade? Seriously? Look at it!

If Anthony Watts decided to delete this article of Neil Catto, then that would make a lot more sense than the article he disappeared a few hours ago :(

From the WUWT comments

Alan Poirier is a fake sceptic and didn't check the CET data or he'd have seen what I did. He also says he likes RSS. I wonder does he know how difficult it is to compute tropospheric temperatures? (Roy Spencer recently posted a good article explaining the difficulties. So good that I'll break my own rule and link to it.)
January 8, 2015 at 10:31 pm
There is not a dataset which has not seen “adjustments.” It has become increasingly impossible to have faith in any of them. Thankfully, RSS data appears to be holding true.
vukcevic claims the credit for the Met Office changing the way they computed the average annual CET temperature. Contrarians can add value when they want to :)
January 9, 2015 at 3:20 am
Met Office corrected a long standing error in calculating annual data from daily and monthly daily temperatures data compilation. I alerted them to the error in early August 2014 and suggested method of recalculation which they appear to have adopted and corrected the annual values.
For more see:

Here's vukcevic's "more see"  - he also posted a chart:
January 9, 2015 at 1:52 am
There is nothing suspicious about this:
Few months ago I wrote to the Met Office about a small error in their annual data:
CET monthly data is given with one decimal place, these are added together, divided by 12 and rounded off (to the math’s rule) at two decimal places.
I repeated process and a zero difference between so calculated (annual from the monthly) data and the Met office annual numbers (last column in http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/hadobs/hadcet/cetml1659on.dat)
confirms the method.
Since monthly data is made of the daily numbers and months are of different length, it is a wrong method, resulting in the Met Office data being fractionally wrong.
As a test (using 1900-2013 data) I multiplied each month’s data by number of days, added all months then divided the sum by 365 or 366 as appropriate.
This method gives annual data which is fractionally warmer, mainly due to short February, warmest long Jul & Aug are balanced by cold long Dec & Jan, the rest makes tiny difference. :...
...this is not much, but still important, in every single year the second decimal digit (hundredth of a degree) is wrong, maximum difference is 0.07 and minimum 0.01 C.
Ialso discussed subject with Tony Brown (TonyB) via email, and even may have commented on the WUWT. 

Cold in Wisconsin is scandalised - clearly a fake sceptic and a right wing authoritarian follower who couldn't be bothered investigating:
January 8, 2015 at 11:06 pm
This is an absolute scandal. I cannot understand how the scientific establishment permits this chicanery! Those who would attempt to defraud the public depend on the evidence being destroyed. They will likely claim that you are wrong, and your numbers were corrupted, while theirs are correct. There should be NO adjustments whatsoever, unless presented alongside the original, unadjusted data.

There were a few who were equally outraged. Then Steven Beck tossed in UHI - not knowing that the CET record has been adjusted for UHI. He wrote:
January 8, 2015 at 11:10 pm
and don’t forget Urban Warming. Central England is practically one big city now. 

The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley disagrees and says it's mostly rural
January 9, 2015 at 12:03 am
Sorry Steven, but that’s just not accurate. I live within the triangle that is the CET. Vast amounts of that triangle are farmland. Admittedly, it includes a part of London, Birmingham, and Bristol. But all the rest is small towns, villages, and vast areas of green land. 

There followed much discussion about albedo and UHI on farmland, for example, Pete in Cumbria UK  wrote:
January 9, 2015 at 1:32 am (extract)
For Jim and Steven – both of those things will cause a warming signal – the Urban Heat Island obviously and well agreed upon, but, also the farmers. They bust their proverbial guts trying to warm up their land (to extend the growing and or harvesting season) and do it very simply by using The Plough to create large areas of ground with low albedo at times of the year when the sun is almost at its strongest.  ...
Which reminds me of another study, that looked at how some surfaces have a cooling effect - the opposite to UHI.

Ozziechris is as bad as Neil Catto, and cannot get his head around the fact that a rise in global average surface temperature can in no way be compared to diurnal or seasonal variation at a particular location.
January 8, 2015 at 11:11 pm
The author is right: the key problem for warmists is to demonstrate that 1.5 or so warming per century is catastrophic in. System tht handles much larger seasons changes and, where I live, can manage sometimes 20C in half an hour.
His half hour change in temperature where he lives, wouldn't melt the ice cap on Greenland. But a rise in average global surface temperature of one or two degrees will melt a whole heap of ice.

richardscourtney doesn't bother checking to see that the data wasn't changed. It was only the annual average calculation that changed. He does lay down the law to all and sundry, though, in his usual playground monitor style. (Richard's bold):
January 8, 2015 at 11:33 pm
David R
It does not matter who questions the “adjustments” to the data, why they question, or when they question.
It only matters if the unadjusted data are retained and that the “adjustments” are explained and justified.
Please address the issues which matter (i.e. have some importance) and desist from making posts about trivia.

Up until vukcevic's comment, lots of people were insisting that the original data be retained. Almost no-one checked or they would have seen that the original data wasn't changed. So typical of deniers. After his explanation, some people did check and agreed it was all okay. That is, until one bright spark criticised the use of annual being January to December and wrote:

And NeilC (the author of the original article) wrote:
January 9, 2015 at 4:02 am (extract)
Thanks for all the comments.
Whilst vukcevic provides an explanation for the changes, I would rather have a file showing raw (unadjusted) data. From these data it would be possible for anyone to provide their own interpretation for situations such as UHI. Mainly because I disagree with P. Jones figure for UHI and consider it 0.8 Deg C after an analysis between London Heathrow and London Gatwick (using 15 years of data)....
Which warrants a "huh"! If he found where to get the annual data then he must have seen that daily data is available too. And if he found that then he'd have seen the links to the papers describing how the record is prepared. The "raw" data he wants is the individual temperature records of all the places that are compiled together to get a central England record. Neil Catto is so far out of his depth. He demonstrates this again by continuing:
I can see there is no trend in the adjustments, however I asked the questions “how often and by how much are these adjustments done?” It was a bit sarcastic of me to relate the adjustment to a /decade figure not knowing the answers to the questions. If these adjustments happen frequently then the whole record warms and there is a greater potential for the latest year to be warmer.
As far as the warmest year is concerned, I have been collecting 24 hourly data on a daily basis for 27 locations in the UK since October 1998 as part of my work. One of the locations is Birmingham, right in the middle of the CET. When I analysed the average daily/monthly/yearly data I found in 1999 the average temperature was 11.1, which is 0.6 Deg C higher than the CET for 201.
[“higher than the CET for 201.” ? .mod]

Which is all quite mystifying. If Neil is collecting data for different locations then you'd have thought he'd take the time to learn something about the data. But he hasn't bothered (or more likely, isn't capable).

Down the bottom people were adding their own comments without having read any of the discussion. They're a pack of flamin' drongos at WUWT.

Parker, D.E., T.P. Legg, and C.K. Folland. 1992. "A new daily Central England Temperature Series, 1772-1991." Int. J. Clim., Vol 12, pp 317-342 (pdf here)

Parker, D.E. and Horton, E.B. 2005. "Uncertainties in the Central England Temperature series since 1878 and some changes to the maximum and minimum series." International J.Climatology, Vol 25, pp 1173-1188. (pdf here)


  1. Sou, the thing which annoyed me most about this article were the three obviously rhetorical questions at the end. Catto may as well have said, "I can't be arsed to honestly research these things, but why bother because I of course already know the answer." And the Whutters go Pavlovian. Predicted result conforms to intended effect. Deep space is more opaque and less vacuous than this.

    I note the Sun has returned to Wattsville today, albeit dimly, in the form of an all-new post by Anthony doing straight reporting on two recent papers discussing solar cycles and their relationship to ocean SST cycles, leaving his brightest bulbs to provide the editorializing. Which again mostly goes the expected direction. Mostly:

    January 9, 2015 at 7:20 am

    Willis, help!

    At WUWT, one must pause to enjoy the little things. There ain't much else.

  2. Neil Catto -- Try: http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/neil-catto-frmets/b/9/b01
    With sincere apologies if not the correct Neil Catto.
    Weather Research Ltd
    1998 – Present (17 years)Somerset

    We research, advise and consult on how weather [air (gases), heat, light (photons) & water] affects living organisms; from the complexity of human consumers to the simplicity of a small molecule.

    1. Every initial consumer action to purchase a product is taken unconsciously to maintain the balance of essential nutrients and comfort (homeostasis). Only when this has been achieved does a consumer consider price, promotion and other man-made influences
    2. Food/Drink: when N-Index (weather) high, consumers desire low carbohydrates which contain high levels of hormone (h2). Inversely when N-Index is low consumers desire high carbohydrates which contain high levels of hormone (h1).
    3. Hormones (h1) and (h2) act inversely contrary to current understanding of their synthesis
    4. Discovery of a small molecule with unique properties, a light cycle structure and a dark cycle structure. This small molecule using enzyme (e1) synthesises hormone (h1) in light cycle and using enzyme (e2) synthesises hormone (h2) and another compound in dark cycle
    5. Alternating light/dark cycles produce bio-rhythms/Circadian rhythms/Body clock
    6. The small molecule is an effector molecule with molecular weight <500 Daltons in both light/dark cycle modes. It has a riboswitch and regulates other enzyme activity, gene expression and cells signalling.
    7 Actions of the small molecule have strong association with homeostasis and innate immune response. Alternating light/dark cycle actions of the small molecule act as a on/off switching mechanism, and explain mutation/repair processes
    8. Analysis show there are only a relatively small number of genes/alleles which have this small molecule. The genes/alleles with the small molecule have been named [weathergenes]
    9. Analysis shows 10-30% genes associated with diseases are weathergenes and 70-90% mutations
    10. Analysis shows genes associated with drugs used for disease treatments 70-100% weathergenes

    1. I thought it was difficult to squeeze so much nonsense into so small a space but Catto seems to have achieved it. Number 3, for example, doesn't make any sense.

    2. More proof that WUWT is a world-class crank-magnet.

    3. It is all absolute gibberish posing as rubbish!

      Whoever wrote this is quite ignorant and very insane or far more likely an out and out liar!


    4. I spent thirty years in Structural Molecular Biology at CSIRO and have spent all this time reading all refereed papers related our work.

      The above gibberish contains some key words that are correct but the context is meaningless.

      I do not want to give the twit any ideas but he does not mention Epigenetics which looks a bit like Larmarckianism.

      As usual simple drivel for simple minds. Bert

  3. Even more entertaining stuff from the same source:

    "Following a further 10 years research I have theoretically found the "Higgs boson" of biology. A small molecule located within mitochondria with truly amazing properties. The reactions of of this small molecule stimulated by weather provide sound explanation for homeostasis, immune response, biological master clock, a master genetic on/off switch, aging and individuality."

    1. It took him ten years to make that stuff up - sorry, research it? Ten minutes Googling and a quick ride in the word salad spinner would have done. Truly world class nonsense.

    2. Shirly he is not talking about methylation of DNA? Bert

    3. I did what I shouldn't do - I dug deeper and found he runs a company called Weatherology which is knee deep in pseudoscience and ignorance. I blogged on it. His is typical pseudoscience - lots of words that don't mean what he wants them to mean, lots of ignorance usually partly hidden by a word salad and a failure to remember that real scientists have a good handle on all this anyway. As we all know, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Catto's biology doesn't give any.

    4. To Catmando
      this is real science


      there is far more!

    5. Bert, thanks for the link. I agree that there is a lot more. I've only skimmed the surface and have come across some complete rubbish. I was told to read up on one pseudoscientist's ideas on consciousness which included an invented subatomic particle and some fantasy science. Some people believe this rubbish presumably because they want to.

      Catto's fake biology doesn't bode well for his climate denial but at least he had some training in meteorology so he should be better. Oh, wait. He doesn't seem to be.

  4. Sou,

    I'm pretty sure that the difference is in doing a weighted average versus a simple average.

    Simple average = (n1,...,n12)/12

    Weighted average = (l1*n1,...,l12*n12)/(l1,...,l12)

    I get a difference between these two of 0.027 (or 0.028) (dependent on round off errors).

    The sign of this difference is also correct (weighted average is above simple average)..

    I've encountered this "problem" before.

    1. Yes, that agrees with what vukvecic said was changed (in his comment above).

    2. Sou,

      Yes. What I didn't do was read that part of your post first. D'oh!

      Several months ago, I was interested in doing an interpolation of monthly time series, to arrive at a uniform (in time) time series for the purposes of FFT analysis (after 1st removing the linear trend, but I also looked a quadratic) for the ENSO 3.4 index. A daily time series would have helped, but AFAIK none esists.

      I then chose an interpolant (starting point of the annual uniformly spaced time series) that minimized the linear weights (worst case was a weight of 0.97 and its compliment for any one month).

      I then compared the interpolated to the original time series (just grabbing and assuming that the original time series was uniformly spaced in time).

      Long story short, it didn't make much difference (<< O(1)) in the FFT spectra.

      I was working with the raw time series and not the anomaly time series.

      I then checked the interpolation scheme with three single sites (in Russia) that purportedly have the largest seasonal temperature cycles.

      Again the FFT's were virtually the same.

      I concluded that just using the original monthly time series, as is, as a uniform in time time series was an excellent 1st approximation (and it saves quite a bit of work). Probably reinventing the proverbial wheel.

      The bottom line, for me at least, was that the differences in a weighted average versus a simple average (with optimal placement of the linear interpolant) didn't really matter.

      Just another example of me going OC/AR with time series data analysis. :)

  5. The post-modern function of WUWT is of course pure entertainment, and they rarely disappoint. I genuinely thought that Smokey's chart could not be improved upon


    as he insisted that 'shows that ∆T leads ∆CO2.' The chart shows the exact opposite as, in the reverse of convention time flows right to left, a point apparently outside the range of Smokey's confirmation bias blinkers.

    But then along comes Neil Catto and his hundredth of a degree adjustments to CET. Adjustment to a series that predates the invention of the mercury thermometer, was rounded to the nearest whole degree for the first few decades, and includes readings from indoor rooms.

    All posted on a site calling the modern instrumental record into doubt because of siting issues.

    I am ankle-deep in broken irony meters right now.

    1. dbs has ruined two irony meters this year, both discussing this chart he proudly lobbed into the mix:


      Upon which he declared confidently, "AGW is too small to measure." Going on 10 times now he's refused to:

      1) Write out the formula [1] which generated that plot and
      2) Tell me how the y-axis TEMPERATURE values were validated.

      How the man has any feet left after shooting them so often defies comprehension.


      [1] Which is buggered. It's the incremental change of ln(CO2) * 0.5 from the previous bucket.

  6. Sou,

    vukcevic is an old character that seemingly posts everywhere. He seems to have something to say every month at RC, otherwise he is completely harmless, albeit somewhat misguided in his science. He might even be analytically competent (not that I have tried to verify anything) but he clearly on the fringe when it comes to applying whatever skills he might have.

    He is *very* polite at RC. And the denizens there just let him post but otherwise ignore him...

    1. Apart from the occasional spat with Leif Svalgaard on solar stuff, vukcevic is largely ignored at WUWT, too, from what I've seen. This time he got noticed.

    2. He does end up in the RealClimate Bore Hole on a regular basis - a significant portion of his posts are just beyond the pale.

    3. Yeah, he is clearly out there. My gut feeling is that he a real crank having some real skills. There is no ideological basis in his repudiation of the current climate science paradigm...

      An internet version the 19th gentleman crank scientist who really believes in *his* own pet theory...

  7. Manley(1974) "Central England temperatures: monthly means 1659 to 1973" says

    "ln 1953 in this Journal I presented a series of monthly means (1698-1952), with comments on method, representative of inland locations in the English midlands, and probably most closely matched by the results of observations kept at stations of intermediate character in open rural surroundings in the lowlands of Staffordshire, Shropshire, North Warwickshire
    (52° 30' to 53°N, I 0 45' to 2° l 5'W) at I 00 to 200 feet above sea level."

    It also mentions Oxford, for a while, which is outside, but near that area, the rectangle included in in this tweet.

    "The decision to provide monthly means representative of central England was made
    because of (a) the inherent difficulties in any attempt to provide for the London area,
    for reasons already indicated; and (b) the fact that the Lower Thames Basin lies too much
    to one side to be closely representative of England more generally. Thirdly, the best long
    series of monthly means hitherto reduced, for any one place, derived from the south midland
    record kept from 1815 onward at the Radcliffe Observatory at Oxford (Knox-Shaw and
    Balk 1932) which could be bracketed with the present writer's Lancashire Plain series
    beginning in 1753 (Manley 1946) to give something representative of the west midland
    counties lying between."

  8. I suppose this crap got posted at WUWT because it obeys the denier's first commandment:

    "Thou shalt not calculate temperature trends using time periods that give meaningful results."

    1. Using the same logic as calculating a CET trend for the last 300 years, we can say that taking heights over 0 to 70 years of age, human growth rate is roughly 1 inch per year.

  9. The statement that a temperature series is getting warmer because the globe is coming out of the Little Ice Age would fail the Karl Popper falsifiability test I am sure.

    It is dishonest anyway because it is clear the temperature series did not show much warming until the 20th century.


Instead of commenting as "Anonymous", please comment using "Name/URL" and your name, initials or pseudonym or whatever. You can leave the "URL" box blank. This isn't mandatory. You can also sign in using your Google ID, Wordpress ID etc as indicated. NOTE: Some Wordpress users are having trouble signing in. If that's you, try signing in using Name/URL or OpenID. Details here.

Click here to read the HotWhopper comment policy.