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Monday, February 13, 2017

David Rose doubles down on #climate disinformation about NOAA. Let's get some perspective

Sou | 5:37 PM Go to the first of 34 comments. Add a comment

I've had a post in train for a week now, after last week's ridiculously wrong article from David Rose in the Mail on Sunday. He based it on another ridiculous article, that one from John Bates on Judith Curry's climate disinformation blog. David Rose has followed it up with another ridiculously wrong article, which says nothing new and in which he's just trying to justify all the mistakes and lies in his first article.

John Bates is a meteorologist turned computer data person whose nose was out of joint because he didn't always get his way when he used to work at NOAA. It was a sour grapes whine from someone who wanted attention. That's all. However his attention-seeking moan had major repercussions through the deniosphere.

In his latest article, David Rose finishes with this:

We cannot allow such a vital issue for our future to be mired in half truths and deceptions.
Which raises the question - why is David Rose himself so mired in half truths and deceptions? His article doesn't just contain half truths, he's a bald-faced liar!

John Bates slagged off scientists, with no evidence, just to get some attention

John Bates slagged off scientists at Judith Curry's blog first, then to anti-science David Rose at the tabloid rag, Mail on Sunday. He walked back some of his worst defamatory comments in an interview at E&E News, reportedly specifying "he did not believe that they manipulated the data upon which the research relied in any way"

This was after making ludicrous claims at Judith Curry's blog, where he wrote, with no evidence whatsoever, and all the evidence showing otherwise:
So, in every aspect of the preparation and release of the datasets leading into K15, we find Tom Karl’s thumb on the scale pushing for, and often insisting on, decisions that maximize warming and minimize documentation. 
Then he went even further with David Rose, who quoted him lying that NOAA scientists threw out data. Of course they did nothing of the sort. John Bates also showed that he's not as clever as he probably likes to think he is. In fact he's as dumb as Pat Michaels (which is dumb, dumb.)

If you're wondering what John Bates wanted, a clue is in his paper, which was published four months after Karl15. It turns out that what he wanted would have involved something like a seven year wait from go to whoa for getting out climate research. I kid you not - see below.

There is almost no difference to speak of between NOAA and other data sets

In place of my original article (which probably won't ever get published now), here are some charts and tables that should make you wonder what the heck disinformers are going on about.

This first chart is a plot of five data sets. It includes: UK's HadCRUT4, NASA's GISTemp, Berkeley Earth, NOAA from Karl15, and NOAA "old" (prior to Karl15). The data goes from 1975 to 2014, which was where Karl15 reported to. I've chosen that period because the mid-1970s was the last time there was a change in the temperature trend, and I wanted to include meaningful trend lines.

Figure 1 | Global mean surface temperature, five data sets: UK's HadCRUT4, NASA's GISTemp, NOAA from Karl15 and NOAA pre-Karl15 . All  plots have been aligned to a 1981-2010 baseline. Data sources: HadCRUT4GISS NASA | Berkeley EarthNOAA old and Karl15

If you have no confidence in your ability to read a chart, the point of this one is to show that there is very little difference between the different data sets, even though there are differences between the sources of data and the way they are processed. (See how close together all the lines are.)

If you thought the difference between the five sets of data was tricky to see, it's even harder to see when the lines are thickened - though probably not so much that they encompass 95% likelihood. You can see that the "old" NOAA data (green line) was a bit cooler in the most recent years, but that's probably the main difference.

Figure 2 | Global mean surface temperature, five data sets: UK's HadCRUT4, NASA's GISTemp, NOAA from Karl15 and NOAA pre-Karl15 . All  plots have been aligned to a 1981-2010 baseline. Data sources: HadCRUT4GISS NASA | Berkeley EarthNOAA old and Karl15

So close they are almost identical

The linear rates of warming over that 1975 to 2014 period, from fastest to slowest are shown in the legend at the bottom of the charts. (Click the arrow on the bottom right to see all the trend numbers. Move the cursor over the chart to see the trends/temperatures at different times):
  • GISTemp and HadCRUT4 and BEST and NOAA's Karl15 all have a trend of 1.7 C/century
  • NOAA old version had a trend of 1.6 C/century.
See the odd one out? Yes, it's the old version from NOAA. In other words, the most recent updates just bring NOAA more into line with other data sets. Contrary to what disinformers try to make out, it's based on rigorous research from NOAA scientists - it's not a conspiracy, nor is there any "fudging".

Similarities are be expected in the case of GISTemp and Karl15, because they both use the Global Historical Climate Network (GHCN) for land and ERSST v4 for the ocean. I don't know if NASA and NOAA have switched over to the larger data set for land that was used in Karl15. In any case, they aren't identical. NASA also uses SCAR for Antarctica, for example. HadCRUT4 uses some GHCN but also gets a lot of data from individual countries and the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO). It does its own thing for sea surface temperature, though much of the raw data would be the same. The sources of Berkeley Earth data are described here.

Waiting seven whole years for climate research

John Bates made a complete fool of himself at Curry's place and to David Rose. He tried to walk it back when he spoke with the reporter from E&E News, but still came over as a whiny wuss, not a responsible level-headed scientist. The crux of his complaint is that the data from Karl15 was in the research stage and hadn't been through Bates' full and complete archiving process. But to do that takes a very long time. It can take five years just to get to what he calls the IOC phase, and a full seven years to get to what he calls "full operations". Bear in mind that these data have been up on the NOAA's ftp server since June 2015, the month Karl15 was published (h/t Nick Stokes). This is from his paper:
As of October 2015, the CDRP [Climate Data Record program] has transitioned 30 CDRs [Climate Data Records] from research to initial operations and 1 to full operations. The average time from initial grant award to a principal investigator to the IOC phase was approximately 60 months and about 84 months to full operations. The transition from initial to full operations has been difficult and variable, as detailed below.
Yep. Not just a seven year wait, but "difficult and variable". In fact, as John Bates confessed at Judith Curry's blog (see, I can use loaded words, just like David Rose):
I spent the last decade cajoling climate scientists to archive their data and fully document the datasets. 
His incredibly complex archiving system may have been suitable for some purposes, but it clearly was a thorn in the side of users. The diagrams in his paper show it as a very complex, long process involving umpteen steps and a multitude of different work groups at NOAA. I imagine the procedures manual could run to hundreds of pages. To what extent did he even involve or listen to users? Good data archiving procedures are important, particularly for climate data. I doubt anyone would dispute that. But what's the point of a system if it doesn't meet user needs? And why try to stop research being published when it's based on solid and well-tested data, just because it hasn't been through the full seven year archiving process?

Even David Rose admits that the formal process takes a very long time, though he peppered it with insinuations using the same word I just did (my emphasis):
Last night Mr Karl admitted the data had not been archived when the paper was published. Asked why he had not waited, he said: ‘John Bates is talking about a formal process that takes a long time.’ He denied he was rushing to get the paper out in time for Paris, saying: ‘There was no discussion about Paris.’
Look past David's trick word and read what Tom Karl actually said:

  • John Bates is talking about a formal process that takes a long time.
  • There was no discussion about Paris.

That's right. Despite all the lies and innuendo from David Rose, the paper had nothing to do with the UN talks in Paris, and the formal process was inconsequential to the paper itself.

David Rose is up to his old defamatory disinformation tricks

Now David Rose is no scientist or mathematician, that's obvious. He also knows that his fans are scientifically illiterate and works hard to keep them that way. David uses word tricks to gee up his denier fans into an apoplexy. Words like "claim" and "influence" and "manipulate" are used to manipulate his readers. The list below contains some of the words he used, or variations of them, in his first article, which was wrong, filled to the brim with disinformation and ridiculously wrong charts, and arguably defamatory:

Figure 3 | Manipulation words from David Rose at the Mail on Sunday, with frequency . Data source: David Rose's first article

More data to show up the lies of the climate disinformers

For the sake of completeness, here is a chart showing the five sets of data, from 1880 through to 2016. The "old" and "new" NOAA data sets only go to 2014, because they relate to Karl15.
Figure 4 | Global mean surface temperature, five data sets: UK's HadCRUT4, NASA's GISTemp, NOAA from Karl15 and NOAA pre-Karl15 . All  plots have been aligned to a 1981-2010 baseline. Data sources: HadCRUT4GISS NASA | Berkeley EarthNOAA old and Karl15

As you'd expect, the earlier years are where the differences are greatest. That's largely because there are fewer observations the further you go back in time and the error margins (not shown) are larger.

Lots more that could be said

There's lots more that could be said about this disgusting behaviour from David Rose and John Bates. I haven't bothered with the stupid articles at WUWT, or Judith Curry, for example. Some people have said it already, and some have just pointed to the facts (see the references below).

I contacted people who would know him, and they behaved very professionally. They didn't want to impugn the character or guess at motives of John Bates. Pity that John Bates didn't show them the same respect.

I've taken the line that this behaviour cannot be tolerated and strong words are needed. The main message I've figured out from people who know him, and elsewhere, is that John Bates accepts climate science and is very clever. However he is not what one would call a "people person" and does not have a calm unflappable disposition. He has been known to "lose it" quite magnificently. Is that too harsh? I doubt it. Here is how he behaved just recently (read to the end).

For my part, I wonder what John Bates was thinking. Here he is, just embarking on a new career and presumably trying to win friends and influence people with his brilliance, and he goes and blows it all on a dumb dummy spit, with woefully wrong allegations. All he's done is let potential clients and professional colleagues know to be very wary of his behaviour. Not someone one with whom one would try to build a trusting working relationship.

David Rose calls Scott K. Johnson of Ars Technica a "snob"

A bonus - how David Rose lost his cool (did he ever have one?) and tweeted this to the excellent science writer at Ars Technica, Scott K. Johnson, who pointed out that the Mail is nothing more than a tabloid gossip rag:

References and further reading

Karl, Thomas R., Anthony Arguez, Boyin Huang, Jay H. Lawrimore, James R. McMahon, Matthew J. Menne, Thomas C. Peterson, Russell S. Vose, and Huai-Min Zhang. "Possible artifacts of data biases in the recent global surface warming hiatus." Science 348, no. 6242 (2015): 1469-1472. DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa5632 (pdf here)

Huang, Boyin, Viva F. Banzon, Eric Freeman, Jay Lawrimore, Wei Liu, Thomas C. Peterson, Thomas M. Smith, Peter W. Thorne, Scott D. Woodruff, and Huai-Min Zhang. "Extended Reconstructed Sea Surface Temperature version 4 (ERSST. v4), Part I. Upgrades and Intercomparisons." Journal of Climate 2014 (2014). doi: (pdf here)

Liu, Wei, Boyin Huang, Peter W. Thorne, Viva F. Banzon, Huai-Min Zhang, Eric Freeman, Jay Lawrimore, Thomas C. Peterson, Thomas M. Smith, and Scott D. Woodruff. "Extended reconstructed sea surface temperature version 4 (ERSST. v4): part II. Parametric and structural uncertainty estimations." Journal of Climate 28, no. 3 (2015): 931-951. doi: (pdf here)

Peter W. Thorne, Kate M. Willett, Rob J. Allan, Stephan Bojinski, John R. Christy, Nigel Fox, Simon Gilbert, Ian Jolliffe, John J. Kennedy, Elizabeth Kent, Albert Klein Tank, Jay Lawrimore, David E. Parker, Nick Rayner, Adrian Simmons, Lianchun Song, Peter A. Stott, and Blair Trewin, 2011: "Guiding the Creation of A Comprehensive Surface Temperature Resource for Twenty-First-Century Climate Science." Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 92, ES40–ES47. doi: (open access)

NEW: How an Interoffice Spat Erupted Into a Climate-Change Furor - A few weeks ago, on an obscure climate-change blog, a retired government scientist named John Bates blasted his former boss on an esoteric point having to do with archiving temperature data. - Article by Hiroko Tibuchi at the New York Times, 20 February 2017
Guest post: Why NOAA updates its sea surface temperature record - article by Peter Thorne at Carbon Brief, 10 February 2017

'Whistleblower' says protocol was breached but no data fraud - Article by Scott Waldman at E&E News, in which John Bates walks back on some of his previous monstrously wrong claims

How a culture clash at NOAA led to a flap over a high-profile warming pause study - article by Warren Cornwall and Paul Voosen at Science, 8 February 2017

Other blog articles about the atrocity from David Rose, John Bates and Judith Curry:

From the HotWhopper archives:


  1. David Rose had an another tweet to Scott Johnson, showing just how unprofessional he is:

    David Rose

    The "Ars" in "Ars Technica" - is it pronounced the same way as "arse"? Serious question, @SJvatn.

    7:24 AM - 12 Feb 2017

    Curry falls all over herself on her blog defending and supporting David Rose.

  2. Isaac Newton would be in serious trouble if they ever looked at his working methods.

  3. John Bates reminds me of the 7 year old kid in the playground who used to have pretensions of being the game 'director', and who would say "and the Indians must come over the hill and attack the cowbows, and I must lead the cowboys, and then the cowboys must shoot the Indians, and then I must be given a medal for saving the fort." And the rest of us would look at each other with a "whatever" look, and we'd decent into an anarchistic melee of cap gun pops and raining rubber-nosed arrows. Usually aimed to ensure that the director didn't survive to claim that much-covetted medal...

  4. Bates has made a goose of himself...and David Rose remains a cancer in the body of journalism.

    1. And Curry continues to be

      "a conduit for untrue statements rather than their originator. And if we are offering advice, might I suggest that you actually engage your critical faculties before demanding that others waste their time rebutting nonsense."


  5. Mornin' Sue (UTC),

    I was up at the crack of dawn yesterday. The previous day I had written to David Rose's Managing Editor explaining to him that Snow Y. White's new Alternative Facts Wetware™ subsystem was flashing red once again:

    An Open Letter to the Managing Editor of the Mail on Sunday

    Snow's prediction proved to be astonishingly accurate!

    David Rose’s Climatic Alternative Facts and Deceptions

    You've been much more thorough in your analysis of Mr. Rose's egregious inaccuracies than Snow and I. Would you mind if we plagiarised portions of your article for use in our forthcoming earnest conversation with the once Great Britain's "Independent" Press Standards Organisation?

  6. P.S. Snow is distraught. She seems to be missing from your list of "Other blog articles". After all, she was on the case the day before anybody else!

    1. Apologies to Snow Y. White, Jim. I've now added another link.

      There are a lot of articles that I missed, from very worthwhile sources, I'm sorry. I didn't want the reference list to be longer than the article :(

    2. Thanks Sou. Snow sends her thanks too, plus a big (if somewhat frosty) hug.

  7. its amazing how quick these idiots are to revert to inverse snobbery when you point out how pathetic they are

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. The AGU has a new article on this:

  10. New article in the New Yorker by Lawrence Krauss.

    Who would have guessed that Lamar Smith is "Christian Scientist"?

    1. Many people do not know this, but there is almost no limit at all on the investigative power of a congressional committee. There is actually a jail inside of congress. It's no longer used. The courts have shied away from adding limits to the committee's almost unlimited authority to investigate. So it is jarring to people that Smith can demand information when there is no indication of wrong doing. Law enforcement cannot do that. While there is almost no legal limit on their power to investigate, there is an informal one. In order to enforce a subpoena, Smith has to sell the need for it to the rest of congress. Down through history there have been multiple scenarios on how that plays out. With the current congress and its leadership, it could be bad. On the other hand, Smith went silent for a long time, which could indicate that Paul Ryan shut him down. I've wondered if that may be why Curry published - she is a publisher - Bates's letter.

    2. JCH - See also the video of Congressman Smith in action at our shiny new campaigning web site:

      Orwellian? Or worse?

      Please feel free to spread the word if you approve of the message!

    3. Jim Hunt - it's a constitutional defect... a mistake of the founding fathers. If there is high quality congressional leadership, it can't go awry. If that is absent, then things could get very out of control. Perhaps then the judicial branch would intercede, but that in itself is fraught with its own balance-of-powers problems. It's been a long time since a congressional committee chairman has been this brazen and wrong all at the same time. One of the ironies here is the power of the office of the Presidency essentially requires the President to defend NOAA or the power of the executive branch could end up diminished.

    4. Date on New Yorker: September 14, 2016

      There are few better resources than The New Yorker on breaking news. I sometimes forget to check, but their thorough research and fine writing is one small comfort in our crazy modern world.

      Jane Mayer broke her ongoing story on the Kochtopus there, including when they sicced a private detective on her.

      I came across this item in a recent Esquire article which referenced it:

  11. JCH, it's pretty damned obvious that this was a setup for Lamar Smith to have the Daily Mail hit piece 'on record' in his "Making the EPA Great" hearing on Feb 7. Smith clearly wasn't happy with Dr Rush Holt AAAS CEO having the E&E interview to go on the record with Bate's walking back on some of Rose's claims.

    Interesting that Curry is the only 'scientist' that House Science Committee twitter account follows. I smell a rat. Her blog article about her 'role' comes across as disingenuous.

    Loved Gavin's tweet on it:

    1. Ceist 8 - looks that way. Smith has had a large number of emails and other documents for a long time. If there was anything in them he could have shown to leadership in order to get his current subpoena enforced, I think he probably would have pursued it. From what I can see congress simply parked the whole issue for a year plus... in an election cycle. All that makes sense is there was absolutely nothing in the emails and documents he had that would justify expanding the scope of the investigation. That is what the house leadership basically does... either okay or deny expanding the scope by either enforcing or not enforcing a committee subpoena. That would be perfectly consistent with Bates's admission that his claim of political motivation was a 100% guess: that Bates has no evidence of White House involvement in the pathway of K15 and the 100s, if not 1000s, of pages of NOAA documents Smith already has contain not a speck of evidence either. So they were desperate and Curry, who is evidently a person of low character, answered the call.

    2. Wish someone would subpoena Lamar Smith's emails.

    3. He's protected by the 4th amendment. NOAA is not.

    4. Ceist - It was obvious to yours truly even before ex Prof. Judy's "Bates Motel" horror story hit the streets. I had an overwhelmimng sense of déjà vu the weekend before last:

      A blast from the past:

    5. JCH, then I wish someone would hack Lamar's emails...

    6. On Judith Curry's credibility as a 'climate scientist'...

      If one looks at her commentary about the state of understanding, it's characterised by rhetoric and it's very thin on hard evidence. She doesn't challenge any of the basic precepts with well-argued reference to data, to specifics, and to the underlying theories in a way that permits her claims to be scrutinised and tested.

      She's all about hand-waving, dog-whistles, and smoke and mirrors. She dodges and weaves, she insinuates, but she never takes the hard empirical approach that allows her claims to be nailed to the wall when she's wrong.

      And she gets a free run all the way to home base. More fool the rest of science for allowing her to play the rest for mugs.

  12. Jim, that's not surprising at all.

  13. I read Scott Waldma’s “Bates: Be careful of bias.” - it was very informative, but when I got to: "For many years, climate scientists were puzzled by an apparent plateau in global temperatures. …”. "Global Warming ?!?! Say what!

    What the heck? Global SURFACE temperatures are NOT "global temperatures" why this madness is still being perpetrated? Is beyond my comprehension.

    On top of that, it was a global surface temperature set that excluded key areas such as above the Arctic/Antarctic Circle among other more insignificant omissions. If i’m mistaken on that point, someone please correct me.

    I was gobsmacked that any science communicator can continue promulgating that Republican’s contrarian meme? Remember (that is remind them) it's the atmospheric insulation doing the actual heavy lifting on this global warming thing.

    The rest is all simply excruciatingly difficult accounting of where every joule of heat is going on this great big complex planet of ours. It is dishonest and unrealistic to expect perfection in that endeavor anyways.

    But, Republicans seem to own the script and we keep following it.

    It's no wonder we keep losing everyone's attention. Talk about being unwitting victims of gross "seepage" - .

    How is the science communication community going to frame the issue of the Republican's unfounded but fundamental point-of-faith that "climate scientists cannot be trusted," with respect to the GOP's “bias”?

    "David uses word tricks to gee up his denier fans into an apoplexy.”

    Kudos to you Sou for delving into "Word Trick" or perhaps the trick words strategy. Definitely worth shining a spotlight on. If they want to talk about BIAS, let's look at the bias saturating the way they frame the issue and the wordsmithing of their messaging.

  14. OT alert. subject: El Nino

    Terrific overview at EarthObservatory (a branch of NASA, thus tenuous connex). There's been some suggestion that El Nino could be coming back. This is a lot of good information:
    Pacific Wind and Current Changes Bring Warm, Wild Weather

    1. Susan - right now the odds of an El Niño developing later this year are just under 50%, but it's still too early for an accurate forecast. Based on the January anomaly and Feb to date, even if ENSO remains neutral throughout 2017, the GMST could be surprisingly high.

    2. Do have a look at the EarthObservatory item. I was aware of that, sorry for not being more clear.

    3. I've been keeping my eye on BoM outlooks, Susan. They suggest a warm equatorial Pacific coming up that might just cross over the El Nino threshold.

      That is an excellent article, thanks. And the graphics are great. Might borrow them some time :) (I believe NASA articles are public domain.)

  15. "A few weeks ago, on an obscure climate-change blog, a retired government scientist named John Bates blasted his former boss on an esoteric point having to do with archiving temperature data.

    It was little more than lingering workplace bad blood, said Dr. Bates’s former co-workers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "

    How an Interoffice Spat Erupted Into a Climate-Change Furor - New York Times

  16. Sou, I've just read Bates 2016 - One of the things that has me most confused, and that this reading has reinforced - is why Karl 2016 became a target in the first place? Aren't Bates CDRs major data sets that others turn to for grabbing and using numbers? - climate data record list

    But when I look at Karl et al 2015, it's a "long-term global temperature analysis" It is a study and not a reference work. (As in the class of Bates' list of CDRs.)

    What was it that Karl didn't do to Bates' satisfaction?

    1. I understand: "The crux of his complaint is that the data from Karl15 was in the research stage and hadn't been through Bates' full and complete archiving process."

      What, is that data supposed to be off limits to all scientists until the entire archiving/ certifying process is completed?

    2. CC, the only thing that I can think of is that Bates was trying to get back at Tom Karl and NOAA for some real or imagined slight. He's got a history of flying off the handle from when he was employed there.

      Bates' story kept changing. He falsely claimed in his Curry article that Karl committed fraud ("thumb on the scale"). When that was shown to be an outright lie, he shifted to emphasise his claim that data should go through Bates' seven year archiving process before they are used in a publication.

      Why Bates chose to focus his attack on Tom Karl and not the authors of previously published ERSST4 papers, or any other paper where the researchers didn't hold off publishing for seven years, I don't know. I don't think anyone asked him about that - probably because the notion is too ridiculous for words. (Or maybe he didn't hold as big a grudge against Boyin Huang and the other authors.)


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