Yet More Stuff We Always Suspected But Its Nice To Have Proof

Many of us have argued for years that much of the measured surface temperature increase has actually been from manual adjustments made for opaque and largely undisclosed reasons by a few guys back in their offices.  (Update— corrected, I accidently grabbed the old version of the post that did not have the degree C/F conversion right.)

The US Historical Climate Network (USHCN) reports about a 0.6C temperature increase in the lower 48 states since about 1940.  There are two steps to reporting these historic temperature numbers.  First, actual measurements are taken.  Second, adjustments are made after the fact by scientists to the data.  Would you like to guess how much of the 0.6C temperature rise is from actual measured temperature increases and how much is due to adjustments of various levels of arbitrariness?  Here it is, for the period from 1940 to present in the US:

Actual Measured Temperature Increase: 0.3C
Adjustments and Fudge Factors: 0.3C
Total Reported Warming: 0.6C

Yes, that is correct.  About half the reported warming in the USHCN data base, which is used for nearly all global warming studies and models, is from human-added fudge factors, guesstimates, and corrections.

I know what you are thinking – this is some weird skeptic’s urban legend.  Well, actually it comes right from the NOAA web page which describes how they maintain the USHCN data set.  Below is the key chart from that site showing the sum of all the plug factors and corrections they add to the raw USHCN measurements:

I concluded that while certain adjustments like the one for time of observation make sense, many of the adjustments, such as the one for siting, seem crazy.  Against all evidence, the adjustment for siting implies a modern cooling bias, which is crazy given urbanization around sites and the requirement that modern MMTS stations (given maximum wire lengths) be nearer buildings than any manual thermometer had to be 80 years ago.

Even if we thought these guys were doing their best effort, can we really trust our ability to measure a signal that is substantially smaller than the noise we have to filter out?

Anyway, in the last week a similar example has been found in New Zealand, via Anthony Watts:

The New Zealand Government’s chief climate advisory unit NIWA is under fire for allegedly massaging raw climate data to show a global warming trend that wasn’t there.

The scandal breaks as fears grow worldwide that corruption of climate science is not confined to just Britain’s CRU climate research centre.

In New Zealand’s case, the figures published on NIWA’s [the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric research] website suggest a strong warming trend in New Zealand over the past century:


The caption to the photo on the NiWA site reads:

From NIWA’s web site — Figure 7: Mean annual temperature over New Zealand, from 1853 to 2008 inclusive, based on between 2 (from 1853) and 7 (from 1908) long-term station records. The blue and red bars show annual differences from the 1971 – 2000 average, the solid black line is a smoothed time series, and the dotted [straight] line is the linear trend over 1909 to 2008 (0.92°C/100 years).

But analysis of the raw climate data from the same temperature stations has just turned up a very different result:


Gone is the relentless rising temperature trend, and instead there appears to have been a much smaller growth in warming, consistent with the warming up of the planet after the end of the Little Ice Age in 1850.

The revelations are published today in a news alert from The Climate Science Coalition of NZ:

Again, even before we consider the quality of the adjustment, we see the signal to noise — the adjustments for noise are equal to or greater than the signal they think exists in the data.

The obvious response is that these adjustments are somehow justified based on site location and instrumentation changes.  But we know from looking at US temeprature stations that the typical station has a warming bias over time due to urbanization and the warm bias of some modern temperature instruments, thus requiring a cooling adjustment and not a warming adjustment.  Watts provides such evidence for one New Zealand site here.

Update: Boy, this is certainly becoming a familiar curve shape.  It seems the main hockey stick curve is the shape of temperature adjustments coming out of these guys.  ESR (via TJIC)  took this code from a Briffa North American proxy reconstruction

;<p> ; Apply a VERY ARTIFICAL correction for decline!!<p> ;<p> yrloc=[1400,findgen(19)*5.+1904]<p> valadj=[0.,0.,0.,0.,0.,-0.1,-0.25,-0.3,0.,- 0.1,0.3,0.8,1.2,1.7,2.5,2.6,2.6,2.6,2.6,2.6]*0.75 ; fudge factor<p> if n_elements(yrloc) ne n_elements(valadj) then message,’Oooops!’<p> ;<p> yearlyadj=interpol(valadj,yrloc,timey)

and reproduced this curve, representing the “fudge factor” Briffa added, apparently to get the result he wanted:


18 thoughts on “Yet More Stuff We Always Suspected But Its Nice To Have Proof”

  1. A possible error: The first graph has y-axis units of degrees Fahrenheit, whilst your article uses units of degrees Celcius. Is that correct?

  2. The actual temperature rise and adjustments are irrelevant until someone demonstrates the value is is anything more than noise. We have made this “debate” too complicated- please will somebody show me the accuracy of the presented temperature rise in the last 100 years and how it was derived. I find it impossible to believe that it can be less than 1 decC by any stretch of logic- the leaked/hacked CRU data sems to substantiate this position. Has there been warming since the LIA yes- how much- we don’t know. How do we attribute the impact of CO2 on some level of temperature increase we do not know? I don’t know.

    Let’s start over – what is the accuracy for the instrumental temperature record given the sampling changes, protocols, technology, station numbers, sampling errors, coverage etc.? Lets all talk again after we get this information. If temperature increase is noise -we needn’ talk at all. Or am I missing something?

  3. The skeptic mantra needs clarity.
    Media’s are going to block our inquiry, so keeping it simple is the key to clearing that logjam.

    To paraphrase Cuba Gooding Jr, “Show me the data”.

    Simple. Direct. Puts the pressure on them.
    Plus since the global warming cabal, led by Phil Jones, claim they have lost the original unadjusted data, it is unanswerable.
    Unanswered questions mean the media will have to break.

    Show me the data needs to be the skeptic comment to every ginned up green energy puff piece served up by the MSM.

  4. Correct!

    A mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that are considered capable of “creating transformation”, but is a transformation required? Were there ever that many scientists who believed that CO_2 levels have a large effect on temperature?

    Anyway the “mantra” should be “Show me the raw data”.

    As for the pejorative “skeptic” which the talking heads will use: When the dirty word “skeptic” comes up say something along the following lines:

    “At the moment there is no effectively no data, as the raw data has been “lost” and the derived data is discredited by the conspirators own words.” (make sure you slip in the word “conspirators” as it will drive the talking head wild)

    “Therefor there are, effectively, no conclusions to be skeptical about.

    “Therefor there are no skeptics.”

    and then twist the knife:

    “The hot-air merchants should publish the raw data, assuming they haven’t been sacked and in the mean-time please shut up.”

    And on the subject of shutting up, these fools seem to bring contempt and discredit to the academic world when they open their mouths: one of these gentlemen apparently said that he felt that he had been “violated” by the publication of the emails. Doesn’t he know that rather than the three syllable “violated” there is a succinct one syllable alternative?

  5. That plot of the adjustments is one crazy graphic. Phil Jones knew he had to hide similar adjustments because they are blatantly untenable. NOAA-NCDC just puts ’em out there. Much better of course, but amazing that some “scientist” could put this together and actually think it is defensible.

  6. The NOAA report where that came from is readily available online. It actually breaks the summed adjusted into the various individual adjustments.

    One of the most significant parts of the overall adjustment is the Time of Observation Bias (TOB) adjustment. The TOB adjustment has increased a lot in the last 50 years, relative to the much smaller values in the past. But shouldn’t digital instruments be able to take the temp exactly when is necessary to minimize bias? And don’t people take temperature readings more seriously than they do 50 years ago? In order to get a perfect reading, you need to read the Min/Max thermometer at midnight. Does it really make sense that more people did that in 1900 than do today?

  7. I just want to point out that there’s no reason an adjustment can’t be legitimate. If you switch thermometers and calibrations show that the new one has a different bias, an adjustment SHOULD be made. Skeptic’s can’t just point at the big adjustments and sling them around as victory. It needs to be shown why the individual adjustments are false, if they are false at all.

  8. Alex- Skeptics do not have to do anything but ask questions and consider the answer. It is not skeptics that are trying to “remake civilization as we know it” The burden of proof would seem to be on those who ask us to undo our civilization based on the strength of their claims. We ask nothing more than proof. The temperature measurement we are asked to believe over the last century or so is supposed to have risen some 0.6 degC. TOB is just one of the many variables that should go into calculating the accuracy of this temperature data. Let’s see it. (just do a quick little probability in your head- take all the unknowns TOB, change in measuring devise technology, siting issues, instrument readability, land use changes, spatial coverage etc where do you think this leads us with regards to relying on a temperature that claims 0.04C accuracy over a century time scale? The CRU leak/hack also supports the premise that the temperature rise cannot be seen above noise.

  9. For those willing to take a few minutes I can demonstrate that adjustments to raw data can make a huge difference in temperature records. It just so happens that two different arms of American climate/weather science use Reno, NV to illustrate their points. First, the Weather Service illustrates the need to place thermometers away from urban heat islands (page 31):

    Second, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration explains their methodology for adjusting raw data:

    Please note that instead of adjusting Reno’s ‘min temp’ downward to conform to Reno’s 1997 & 1998 ‘non-heat island’ temperature, the NOAA adjusted upwards to conform to Reno’s ‘heat island’ temperature record. While the NOAA claims “impact of urbanization and other changes in land use is likely small,” their adjustments seem to demonstrate that Reno’s adjusted temperature records are overstated by 4-5 degrees F. compared to what they would be if the thermometer was not situated within Reno’s heat island.

    — Robert Moen,

  10. Science is about disproving null hypotheses. The null hypothesis in this case is that global temperatures are not changing in line with CO2 increases. It is not incumbent on those who believe the null hypothesis to prove it; it is incumbent on those who are trying to show otherwise to disprove it, and in real science this is done by using real data and establishing real confidence levels — not by making blithe undisclosed ‘assumptions’ about what the data ‘should’ be doing. The release of this raw data is the single greatest achievement of the Climategate investigation so far.

  11. Agree.
    “Show us the raw data”, and give us the adjustment paradigm/program/s including explanations.
    Any hypothesis needs testing; global warming due to CO2 is a hypothesis.
    It is not a fact when others cannot test the hypothesis.
    The majority of the British Society once argued the Earth was flat.
    They now argue there is warming due to CO2; probably wrong again to my mind.
    It is difficult to believe there is a clear temperature signal given the varying locations of sensors, etc.
    One must assume the amount of noise is considerable. But, subjective adjustment to show otherwise is not science – opinion based conclusions are not science.
    For the moment the empirical evidence of Prof Lindzens’ study demonstrates that energy leaving the planet is not being blocked by increasing CO2. A fact that is in accord with proven science; CO2 has reached a level where more CO2 affects climate less and less. Most of the frequency blocked by CO2 has been blocked.
    This is contrary to ALL IPCC models.
    When the history of temperature and CO2 concentrations is denied by the ‘warmists’ and their models are at odds with empirical evidence (Lindzen et al) there is no cause for the seekers of truth in science (Deniers) to defend their position.
    Warmists do not have a case or have failed to present the evidence – all we have from them is a mantra.
    Without evidence to the contrary my view remains that “CO2 is life – COTY 15 death”

  12. I believe your main point here is in error, because of the difference between degrees F and degrees C. According to the graph on the NOAA page you link to, their adjustments are shown in degrees Fahrenheit, not Celsius. Perhaps your summary should be:

    Actual Measured Temperature Increase: 0.3C
    Adjustments and Fudge Factors: 0.5F = 0.3C
    Total Reported Warming: 0.6C

    Am I correct? If so, it is still worth reporting, but it should be done correctly.

  13. Reply to Pat Moffit – the main point that needs to be made is that the data has been tampered with, and thus the claimed result – AGW – is bogus. But additionally, and let’s all take a deep breath – this whole area of science, and the predictions derived thereof, are BEYOND OUR CAPABILITIES, at this point in time and technology. Jumping to conclusions, and taking aim at moving targets will only bring waste, grief, undesired results (possibly cooling the earth further when we should be warming) – and really consequences of which we can only guess at.

    The social and criminal repercussions of the fudging, however should become quite tangible and not be allowed to escape our grasp and punishment. Climate cheaters should be exposed, tried and given their due.

  14. Al Gore – Sun God Shaman?

    When you read the science, you’ll find it to be well known that the Earth experiences 30-35 year temperature cycles. Thus any ‘climatologist’ who supposedly didn’t know this would be considered a fool amongst their colleagues.

    In fact, if this is your job, you can’t NOT know about Earth’s 30-35 year temperature cycles!

    Thus many scientists have been waiting for this latest warming ‘wave’ within the greater ‘tide’ to break, which is very likely what we are seeing right now with all of this record winter weather around the world. It snowed last year in Baghdad, for crying out loud – first time in 100 years!! And now England is snowed in, and the fraudsters have not-so-subtly changed their rhetoric from ‘Global Warming’ to ‘Climate Change Crisis’.

    But this is only a re-branding of their fraud. Al Gore and crew attempted to use an upward fluctuation in this cycle to spread terror for power and profit, just as Inca and Mayan Priests once used their knowledge of eclipses to intimidate their populations, and pretend a direct connection to God.

    The motives of this are plain : Al Gore has a Carbon Credit Exchange waiting in the wings, developed with David Blood and, early in its development, Ken Lay of Enron. These two crooks have already played key roles in collapsing our economies, in their quest for profits under the new ‘Scarcity Capitalism’ Lay was so fond of, and we are about to hand over our economies to their sinister, vile, greedy machinations.

    If you look back at the only really solid data we have, which of course only covers the last 100 years or so – you will see the two previous cycles were a little longer than this one. If you go long range, you see that overall, we ARE in a warming cycle. It’s been warmer centuries ago, it’s hardly a bad thing, there’s nothing we can do about it anyway, so we prepare, is all. Big deal.

    But this game plays out like this – it’s not ’settled science’, but it is still fairly well known that the latest upward swing would lead to a dip – and we would have a carbon tax imposed just in time for a 35 year downswing in temperatures, when our energy needs would skyrocket. The payout would go beyond bags of money. It would be Global Fascism at it’s purest and finest.

    Thus they started to go into the schools in the 90’s, to indoctrinate a generation of children in their fraudulent cult – it’s easy to see that it’s been nothing less than timed, if you just do a little ‘hindcasting of your own. If this natural upward fluctuation in temperature cycles were to have lasted an extra year or two – assuming we are looking at the onset of the dip we should be and would be expecting if we had honest leaders who weren’t trying to enslave us with phony science – there would be an army of self-hating eco-police coming out to do battle against evil polluting humanity over the next decade and all the laws would have been in place.

    It is nothing less than FOOLISH to abandon one source of energy without first developing another. To attempt to force the issue with a blatant scientific fraud destroys any alleged value in such an effort – in case you forgot, Stalin taught us the true meaning of “The End Justifies The Means”.

    What Al Gore and the rest of the Climate Clown Cabal did – and are still trying to do! – is TREASON. Anybody remember what that is? Well, I’ll give you a hint – before there can be treason, you need to still have a country first.

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