The GWPF and the Heartland Institute are struggling to find a way to undermine The 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC to be held in Paris later this year. (The GWPF is the main climate science denier lobby group in the UK, and the Heartland Institute is part of a network of denier lobby groups in the USA.)
The Mock Delegation from the Heartland Institute
The Heartland Institute claimed it was sending a delegation to the Vatican to persuade the Pope to become a climate science denier. Turns out they were just sending a bunch of deniers to hold a meeting in the Columbus Hotel in Rome, from which the "delegates" could get a view of St. Peter's Basilica, if they got a room with a view, but without any guarantee of a session with Pope Francis. There was no indication they'd tried to get an audience with the Pope - private or public.
The Heartland Institute website didn't even say who it was sending. When I clicked on the link for details, all I got was this "page not found".
The Fake Enquiry by the GWPF
The denier lobby group in the UK has taken a different tack to try to undermine the Paris talks. It has decided to set up a review into temperature records. It doesn't want to "believe" that ice is melting, that oceans are warming, that surface temperatures are going up and that climate change is happening. It also knows precious little about surface temperature, going by the terms of its review. And it doesn't care to, going by the people it has appointed to run its investigation.
Coincidentally at the same time another group has announced a review of the methods to remove non-climatic changes from temperature data, by the Task Team on Homogenization (TT-HOM) of the Commission for Climatology (CCl) of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). That review is headed by Dr Victor Venema. The terms of reference and membership are listed further down.
Compare the terms of reference of the GWPF review with that of the Task Team on Homogenization. The former is nothing but a political stunt by a denier lobby group, to try to get people to doubt that climate change is happening. The latter is aimed at improving the global temperature records.
GWPF Terms of Reference
What follows are the terms of reference of the GWPF review in italics, together with my answers. Feel free to send them to the GWPF - it requests: send text in PDF format via email to firstname.lastname@example.org :)
The panel is asked to examine the preparation of data for the main surface temperature records: HadCRUT, GISS, NOAA and BEST. For this reason the satellite records are beyond the scope of this inquiry.
The following questions will be addressed.
Q 1. Are there aspects of surface temperature measurement procedures that potentially impair data quality or introduce bias and need to be critically re-examined?
A 1. The aspects of surface temperature measurements that potentially impair data quality or introduce bias are described in various places. For example, the NOAA has a list of them on its website here. Here is a "top of the head" list, which you can probably add to:
- Movement of weather stations
- Interruptions to the record
- Change of weather station from one type to another
- Change of recording instrument
- Change in time of observation
- Change in the surrounds of the weather station
- Fault in the weather station instruments
- Incorrect, incomplete or illegible entries in the original hand-written record or errors in its transcription to a database
Q 2. How widespread is the practice of adjusting original temperature records? What fraction of modern temperature data, as presented by HadCRUT/GISS/NOAA/BEST, are actual original measurements, and what fraction are subject to adjustments?
A 2. Or as Nick Stokes put it "How widespread is the practice of doing arithmetic?"
Original records may be adjusted to account for the above. More normally, though, AFAIK it is not the original records that are changed when the teams are analysing global surface temperature trends (as opposed to, say, national trends by individual agencies). Changes are made while anomalies are being calculated, not to the original records but to the record of temperature anomalies, during the process of homogenisation. (Victor Venema might have something to add about this.) How this is done varies.
For gridded data used by GISS, the process is explained by Drs Hansen, Ruedy, Sato, and Lo in a 2010 paper.
For HadCRUT, answers to many of the panel's questions can be found here. The process is described in Jones et al (2012) and, for sea surface temperature in Kennedy et al (2011) - part 1 and part 2.
Berkely Earth doesn't use gridded data, it has used a different process as described here:
Other groups such as NASA, NOAA, and the Hadley Center either work with data that has been homogenized or they make homogenizing adjustments to the data series. In the Berkeley method station records are not adjusted up or down. Rather, stations that display unreliable data characteristics are down weighted in the construction of spatial temperature fields. Stations that show evidence of undocumented moves or instrument change (e.g. evidenced by extremely abrupt changes, either up or down) are split at the change point and treated as two separate records.As a caveat to the above, individual holders of records, like the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, do adjust temperature records when necessary. This is described here on the BoM website.
Q 3. Are warming and cooling adjustments equally prevalent?
A 3. No, not in all cases. The adjustments to the anomalies depends on the situation.
- USA: TOBS adjustments in the USA tend to make the more recent anomalies warmer on balance, as described by Victor Venema here.
- Elsewhere: In places where time of observation is standard, it's expected there are roughly the same number of ups and downs. Rapidly growing areas might have more downs, because of UHI adjustments. Areas where the population has stabilised might have an equal number.
- Land surface temperatures: Overall, the earlier land surface temperature anomalies have been adjusted upwards.
- Sea surface temperatures: Adjustments to the records for sea surface temperature when the method of collecting data changed, make the earlier records warmer on balance, as described here.
The chart below is a comparison of raw data with adjusted data, prepared by Zeke Hausfather as reported by Victor Venema. Land surface earlier records have been adjusted down overall. Sea surface earlier records have been adjusted up overall. The net effect is that the slope of global land and sea surface temperatures is steeper in the raw data than in the adjusted data.
|Credit: Zeke Hausfather - annotated by me. Source: Variable Variability|
Q 4. Are there any regions of the world where modifications appear to account for most or all of the apparent warming of recent decades?
A 4 a) See Answer to 3 above.
A 4 b) The Terms of Reference left out the other part of this question. See above where most or all of the apparent warming of earlier decades for the global temperature are a result of adjusting the earlier sea surface temperature records upwards.
Q 5. Are the adjustment procedures clearly documented, objective, reproducible and scientifically defensible? How much statistical uncertainty is introduced with each step in homogeneity adjustments and smoothing?
A 5. That's two questions.
A 5 a) Yes.
A 5 b) They all include statistical uncertainty.
Q 1 From me : Why are you leaving out the satellite data?
A to Q 1 From me : That is an area that is prone to errors and significant difficulties of interpretation. I refer the panel to the following.
- Gary, Bruce L., and Stephen J. Keihm. "Microwave sounding units and global warming." (1991). Science 18 January 1991: Vol. 251 no. 4991 pp. 316-317 DOI: 10.1126/science.251.4991.316
- Hurrell, James W., and Kevin E. Trenberth. "Spurious trends in satellite MSU temperatures from merging different satellite records." Nature 386, 164 - 167 (13 March 1997); doi:10.1038/386164a0
- Wentz, Frank J., and Matthias Schabel. "Effects of orbital decay on satellite-derived lower-tropospheric temperature trends." Nature 394, no. 6694 (1998): 661-664. doi:10.1038/29267
- Fu, Qiang, Celeste M. Johanson, Stephen G. Warren, and Dian J. Seidel. "Contribution of stratospheric cooling to satellite-inferred tropospheric temperature trends." Nature 429, no. 6987 (2004): 55-58. doi:10.1038/nature02524
- Mears, Carl A., and Frank J. Wentz. "The effect of diurnal correction on satellite-derived lower tropospheric temperature." Science 309, no. 5740 (2005): 1548-1551. DOI: 10.1126/science.1114772
- Po-Chedley, Stephen, Tyler J. Thorsen, and Qiang Fu. "Removing diurnal cycle contamination in satellite-derived tropospheric temperatures: Understanding tropical tropospheric trend discrepancies." Journal of Climate 2014 (2014). doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-13-00767.1
- The Recent Slowing in the Rise of Global Temperatures by Carl Mears, RSS
Q 2. From me: How much difference is there between the different records of surface temperature?
A: The panel may be interested in the following chart, which has two surface temperature records aligned to the 1981-2010 mean, and includes the lower troposphere satellite data. They line up very well.
Q 3 From me: What other evidence is there that the world is warming and the climate is changing?
A to Q 3 From me: There is ample evidence that the world is warming up and that climate change is happening. This is well documented in the latest IPCC reports. For example:
Oceans are getting hotter at depth:
|Data source: NODC/NOAA|
Arctic sea ice is disappearing in summer:
|Data source: U Colorado|
And take heed - read about the loaded dice:
|Figure 3. Frequency of occurrence (vertical axis) of local June-July-August temperature anomalies (relative to 1951-1980 mean) for Northern Hemisphere land in units of local standard deviation (horizontal axis). Temperature anomalies in the period 1951-1980 match closely the normal distribution ("bell curve", shown in green), which is used to define cold (blue), typical (white) and hot (red) seasons, each with probability 33.3%. The distribution of anomalies has shifted to the right as a consequence of the global warming of the past three decades such that cool summers now cover only half of one side of a six-sided die, white covers one side, red covers four sides, and an extremely hot (red-brown) anomaly covers half of one side. Image credit: NASA/GISS. Source: NASA|
Terms of Reference of the Task Team on Homogenization (TT-HOM)
Compare the terms of reference of the GWPF review with that of the Task Team on Homogenization (TT-HOM), which are:
- Explore ways, building on the existing work, to identify the best performing, skilled and efficient homogenization methods and quality control procedures for the different climate essential variables and time scales (from monthly to sub-daily);
- Identify and evaluate currently available procedures and software for climate time-series quality control (e.g., identifying non-systematic biases in climatic records);
- Identify and assess skills and efficiencies of modern and innovative homogenization methods, to identify more robust and efficient methods including the associated software;
- Provide guidance to Members on methodologies, standards and software required for quality control of climate time-series, with a special focus on temperature and precipitation variables at the daily scale, but also explore existing quality controls for other variables and time-scales.
And its international team of members:
- Wilfrid Serge Raoul Likeba Louamba, Congo
- Ghulam Rasul, Pakistan
- Clara Oria, Peru
- Xiaolan Wang, Canada
- Matthew Menne, USA (co-leader)
- Blair Trewin, Australia
- Tamás Szentimrey, Hungary
- Victor Venema, Germany (leader)
- Jose Antonio Guijarro, Spain
From the WUWT comments
Anthony Watts copied and pasted the GWPF announcement (archived here) without any comment from him. There were lots of "thoughts", many cynical.
Brandon Gates puts up the charts prepared by Zeke Hausfather, showing that the raw data shows more warming than the adjusted data does.
April 26, 2015 at 12:11 pm (extract - click the link to view)Deniers who bothered to take any notice fell all over themselves to deny it:
Here’s hoping the auditors remember to include land area outside the US:
Stephen Richards made up stuff - driving data up by 3°C? WTF! It's gone up by 0.9°C since the beginning of last century, not 3C.
April 26, 2015 at 12:44 pm
They don’t need to concern themselves with land in or out just with the justification for driving the 20th century data up by 3°C.
davidmhoffer, unlike most deniers (when they feel like it), wants to throw out all the sea surface temperature data prior to Argo, even though earlier records were adjusted up not down:
April 26, 2015 at 4:15 pm
So, which would you rather have, the “raw” data or adjusted?
The notion that SST can be accurately reconstructed via 100 year old thermometer measurements taken by throwing a bucket overboard and pulling some water up to stick the thermometer in, by sailors who kinda sorta know exaclty where they were, strikes me as unreliable to begin with. No amount of adjustment can compensate for the data being at best spotty in the first place.
Dudley Crawford has no problem with...:
April 26, 2015 at 3:12 pm
This investigation will be useless. No matter the outcome the truth is that we have only 30 years of truly reliable temperature records. Get back to me in 100 years. FWIW, I am not only skeptical, I do not see any evidence for warming, man-made or otherwise. In fact, call me a Denier. I have no problem with that adjective.
Michael Palmer points out his problem :)
April 26, 2015 at 4:10 pm
“I have no problem with that adjective.” Yes, you do – it’s a noun, not an adjective.
Stevek blames NOAA and NASA and Michael Mann and Phil Jones for the rise in the cost of his electricity. That's probably all the names he can think of in relation to climate.
April 26, 2015 at 3:16 pm
Is it possible to sue noaa or nasa because our utility bills have gone up due to a policy that was based on fraudulent data ? Class action lawsuit naming jones,Mann,nasa,noaa etc ?
GeoLurking doesn't know that the GWPF is just another denier lobby group:
April 26, 2015 at 6:27 pm
Nothing but another layer of varnish to desperately try and lend some credibility to the claims.
Phlogiston is a greenhouse effect denier, who has learnt some new words and is experimenting with them to see how they look jumbled up together:
April 26, 2015 at 6:50 pm
The most strange and unexpected thing to come from reanalysis of 20th century climate would be to find that climate had been static. It is a dissipative chaotic and under a multitude of periodic forcings. It oscillates fractall on all times and on all scales. Always has and always will. Why should the 20th century have been any different?
Jimmy Finley is hopeful that the data reported is correct. He doesn't want the world to cool.
April 26, 2015 at 6:51 pm
This is a timely study. Given Anthony et al. work on US stations, the good ones are flat or cooling. The compromised ones (airports, parking lots, etc.) are warming and they – here and elsewhere – get spread all over the globe to give us great globs of red on maps. If these compromised stations altogether are giving us no warming over the last nearly two decades, what is the real story? Are we seeing actually declining temperatures? Would we even know if we were starting the nosedive into the next glaciation? Let’s get a rigorous look at it; no more BS. Warming we can stand, and perhaps benefit significantly from it. Cooling is death.
Walt D. puts all his faith in satellites. Maybe he doesn't know that they show a similar trend to surface temperature:
April 26, 2015 at 7:38 pm
Even if all this data was all accurate to 0.02 C it would not make any difference. The major problem, historically, is there is not enough data, particularly ocean data. The key advantage of satellite data is the global coverage.
Does B not know that the earth is warming?
April 26, 2015 at 8:43 pm
“While we believe that the 20th century warming is real, we are concerned by claims that the actual trend is different from – or less certain than – has been suggested”
As a nearly retired trial lawyer often questioning one’s bias, I find this statement and the entire inquiry disingenuous. In essence, ‘We are conducting a major inquiry of global temperature records as possibly unreliable…but we still believe the earth has warmed.”
Good luck with that inquiry.
- Nick Stokes credits Paul Homewood and Christopher Booker for this latest effort by the GWPF
- Victor Venema notices the coincidence in timing with his review, under the auspices of the World Meteorological Organisation
- ATTP asks - how many times must we do this?
- Bob Ward told The Independent: “I think this is a very obvious attempt to create a fake controversy over the global temperature record ahead of the [UN Climate Change] Paris summit. The only purpose of this review is to cast doubt on the science. It is a political move, not a serious scientific one.”