Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Zeke Hausfather: Understanding adjustments to surface temperature data

Sou | 12:03 AM Go to the first of 11 comments. Add a comment

This is a first. I am recommending an article that has appeared at Judith Curry's blog (archived here). It's a very good article about adjustments to surface temperature data, written by Zeke Hausfather. I couldn't see it anywhere else on the internet so Zeke may have written it for Judith and her readers. (Judith certainly needed the education. She has posted Zeke's article without comment, which is also a rare event.)

Unfortunately it means a lot of people who would benefit from reading it might miss out, because they avoid Judith's blog like the plague. On the upside, Judith panders mainly to the denialati and her readers might learn something. - Update: Note I said "might". Even at this early stage, most of Judith's readers are not interested in what Zeke actually wrote. Going by the comments they are too deep in denial and paranoid conspiracies. Updated archive is here. Sou. 12:44 am AEST Tuesday 8 July 2014

Here is an archived version of the article.

Zeke deals with a lot of the points raised in the recent idiocy started by "Steve Goddard" (Tony Heller) and perpetuated by Anthony Watts. He also promises two more parts, which I'll promote here when they appear, writing (my dot points):
This will be the first post in a three-part series examining adjustments in temperature data, with a specific focus on the U.S. land temperatures.
  • This post will provide an overview of the adjustments done and their relative effect on temperatures. 
  • The second post will examine Time of Observation adjustments in more detail, using hourly data from the pristine U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN) to empirically demonstrate the potential bias introduced by different observation times. 
  • The final post will examine automated pairwise homogenization approaches in more detail, looking at how breakpoints are detected and how algorithms can tested to ensure that they are equally effective at removing both cooling and warming biases.

Zeke Hausfather is a researcher with the Berkeley Earth temperature analysis project.  He writes a lot for Yale Climate Connections.  If you visit some denier websites you may have seen Zeke injecting a dose of reality to contrast with the normal conspiracy theorising and other idiocy that takes place. He is known for his integrity and for being straightforward and polite with one and all. He also writes very clearly so that even people without any scientific education should be able to follow what he writes.

Understandably, Anthony Watts doesn't always get along well with Zeke. Anthony prefers FUD and denial, which Zeke doesn't do at all.

Update: Comments from Judith Curry's blog

The comments are flying thick and fast, with the emphasis on commenters being "thick", as you'd expect given the location. Here is a representative sample. Judith Curry must be very proud of herself:

David Springer is a paranoid conspiracy theorist who prefers lies to facts. I'd say he's a right wing authoritarian who distrusts any and every "official" source. He also seems to want people to believe the entire edifice of climate science rests on the weather in Washington on one day in 1988 and his lie about James Hansen. Judith does cater for weirdos, doesn't she:
 | July 7, 2014 at 10:01 am |
Good faith was undermined about the time James Hansen sabotaged the air conditioning and opened the windows to scorching outside temperatures in the congressional hearing room in 1988. Good faith collapsed completely with the Climategate emails two decades later.
Good faith my ass.

sunshinehours1 is another crank who doesn't understand Zeke's article, despite it being written so elegantly, and who doesn't know that data is available - all kinds of data including raw data as well as gridded data. Nothing is "hidden".
| July 7, 2014 at 9:55 am | 
Why do climate scientists hide the raw data? Why do they use anomalies and 5 years smoothing to hide the data?
You can’t spell anomalies with LIES.

In fact almost all of Judith's readers seem to be certifiable. Rob Bradley is no exception. From what he writes, he thinks that scientists are fudging the data. That would be a bigger hoax than could conceivably be maintained. He's an utter nutter.
| July 7, 2014 at 9:48 am |
The author states: “Their methods may not be perfect, and are certainly not immune from critical analysis, but that critical analysis should start out from a position of assuming good faith and with an understanding of what exactly has been done.”
But surely incentives matter. Peer pressure matters. Government funding matters. Beware of the ‘romantic’ view of science in a politicized area.

Scottish Sceptic is now blatantly implicitly accusing Zeke Hausfather, who is an "outsider" to climate science, of being in on the imagined "hoax". Well, we already know Scottish Sceptic is just an other utter nutter.
 | July 7, 2014 at 10:37 am | 
When an auditor checks accounts, they do not assume bad faith.
Instead they just assure the figures are right.
So, why then when skeptics try to audit climate figures do they immediately assume we are acting in bad faith?
Because academics don’t have a culture of having their work checked by outsiders
The simple fact is that academics cannot stomach having outsiders look over their figures. And this is usually a symptom of an extremely poor quality regime

claimsguy is another right wing authoritarian who distrusts scientists because they are the go-to source for science. Would he go to a barber to get an expert opinion on his medical condition?
  | July 7, 2014 at 10:47 am |
Oh geez. You’ve poisoned the well by saying Gavin liked the post.


  1. I just had to go read the comment thread. Surprise, surprise, accusations of conspiracy have broken out all over...

    1. That's the norm for Judith's blog. I figure she's mainly interested in stoking denier's fantasies.

      This article is a most unusual side trip into reality, quite different to her daily dish of nonsense.

    2. Judith is quite untroubled in passing on a Twitter ref accusing Mike Mann of trying to 'silence skeptics' when he decided at long last to litigate for his professional reputation. {and untroubled that the reference stated 'skeptic' in the singular, because she is lazy, so very lazy..}

      She is a waste of time.

    3. Judith has made it clear that her allegiance is to science deniers not science. Science deniers like to think they are free to make all sorts of false personal allegations against anyone they please, although I've noticed that Anthony Watts isn't doing it nearly as often as he used to.

      Just like Judith doesn't appear to know the differences between the Arctic and Antarctica, she doesn't know the difference between defamation of individuals and rejecting climate science. It's all the same to her, going by that.

  2. I'm not sure of Sou and other know who David Springer, but he was a moderator of the blog "Uncommon Descent" (William Dembski's blog on intelligent design creationism) for some years, before he became so obnoxious that even Dembski couldn't put up with him. He's something of a serial science denier and a**hole.

    1. Dhogaza, I wasn't aware of that. (Rejection of evolution isn't big in this part of the world.) So thanks for that bit of information.

  3. If you haven't seen them, you should look at Moyhu's, aka Nick Stokes's recent posts; e.g. http://moyhu.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/tobs-nailed.html

    1. Nick Stokes' blog is always worth a visit and time to explore it. He has been doing a lot of work to illustrate how different approaches affect the data. He uses a lot of interactive graphics, which is very cool.

  4. Watching Mosher play whack-a-mole is quite entertaining.

  5. omanuel amusingly says this

    "Adjustments to data ought always be explained in an open and transparent manner, especially adjustments to data that become the basis for expensive policy decisions."

    Totally true of course. The data is hidden in large monolithic building with security barriers called a University library, with each secret document protected by super strong protective barriers called book covers.

    1. They still have libraries?

      During grad school I consulted the library twice, and in one of those visits I learned we didn't have the paper and that I should fill out a form online to get it scanned elsewhere in the world and emailed to me. The rest of the time I just hit up author web pages (open-access journals weren't really a thing yet).


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