Russians Accuse CRU of Cherry-Picking Station Data

Many of us are aware of the cherry-picking of proxy series that goes on in the temperature reconstruction world.  This cherry picking is both manual — a thousand plus proxy series exist but the same 20-30 that are known to create hockey sticks are selected over and over; and algorithmic — McIntyre and McKittrick demonstrated how Michael Mann’s algorithms preferentially put high weights on hockey-stick shaped series.

I think a lot of us has suspected something similar in the surface temperature measurement indexes like the Hadley CRUT3, the main metric relied on by the IPCC.

On Tuesday, the Moscow-based Institute of Economic Analysis (IEA) issued a report claiming that the Hadley Center for Climate Change based at the headquarters of the British Meteorological Office in Exeter (Devon, England) had probably tampered with Russian-climate data.

The IEA believes that Russian meteorological-station data did not substantiate the anthropogenic global-warming theory. Analysts say Russian meteorological stations cover most of the country’s territory, and that the Hadley Center had used data submitted by only 25% of such stations in its reports. Over 40% of Russian territory was not included in global-temperature calculations for some other reasons, rather than the lack of meteorological stations and observations.

So, maybe they were chosen because they had higher quality data with fewer data gaps.  Wrong:

The HadCRUT database includes specific stations providing incomplete data and highlighting the global-warming process, rather than stations facilitating uninterrupted observations.

On the whole, climatologists use the incomplete findings of meteorological stations far more often than those providing complete observations.

Maybe they were urban biases in the data that was excluded. No, just the opposite:

IEA analysts say climatologists use the data of stations located in large populated centers that are influenced by the urban-warming effect more frequently than the correct data of remote stations.

So, without the CRU giving any clear set of decision rules for station selection, we are left with this:

The data of stations located in areas not listed in the Hadley Climate Research Unit Temperature UK (HadCRUT) survey often does not show any substantial warming in the late 20th century and the early 21st century.

I am sure it is the purest coincidence that stations excluded from metrics like this show less warming and proxies excluded from temperature reconstructions don’t look like hockey sticks.

Update: McIntyre here and Watts here.

  • Alright, but where’s the original report?

  • Ooops that didn’t take long, sorry:

    http://www.iea.ru/article/kioto_order/15.12.2009.pdf

  • dearieme

    I’m quite happy to accept that there has been some global warming – that it is, on average, warmer now than during the little ice age. But I don’t believe any of the numbers we’re given – it is wise to assume that they are edited and adjusted beyond the bounds of propriety or good sense. So I rely on reports of such phenomena as longer growing seasons. Such is the dreadful state that “Climate Science” has been reduced to by the duds and crooks who pursue it.

  • Ross

    Someone has pointed out that this e-mail may be relevant as to why this information has not received wider attention before:

    Mann: “Recently rejected two papers (one for JGR and for GRL) from people saying CRU has it wrong over Siberia. Went to town in both reviews, hopefully successfully. If either appears I will be very surprised, but you never know with GRL.”

  • Pete Ballard

    So it seems what is needed is fairly simple conceptually.

    1. Get the raw data from every weather station in the world and every other source used (e.g. satellite) to take direct temperature measurements. It should all be out there somewhere, right?

    2. Categorize these stations into groups of the conditions that changed over the history of each station (e.g. no change, station moved, measurement equipment upgraded, urbanization, etc.).

    3. For discontinuous changes (e.g. station moved), treat the before and after readings as two separate set of measurements, i.e. treat them as two different stations, eliminating the need for adjusting the data.

    4. Compare the measurements by group – satellite vs. no change stations vs. discontinuous change, vs. continuous change (e.g. urbanization).

    Just the ideas of a novice.

  • Anonymous

    Note the reaction from Gavin of Realclimate:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/12/are-the-cru-data-suspect-an-objective-assessment/comment-page-5/#comment-149688 (#211)

    “Well, journalism is in trouble in Russia too… The relevant figure from the IEA report is here which show the difference between the their ‘all station’ index and the HadCRU index for Russia as a whole. Since there was no check for inhomogeneities or jumps in the IEA index, it doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny, but even if it were fine, the differences in the 20th C trend are small. The whole ‘someone made adjustments/screened stations therefore fraud!’ line of argument is getting very old.”

    Apparently, losing 0.6 degrees on a 2.0 degree trend is peanuts. Not to mention that:

    * The IEA say in the article that if they made adjustments for human urban island effects and the like, they would have shown even less warming than they saw on raw data.

    * The IEA also show that the stations used by CRU were far from being the best ones in terms of spatial coverage or, say, data continuity. Instead, somehow CRU ended up selecting those stations that were showing the largest warming.

    * The IEA also show that even after CRU did their cherry-picking, records for at least some stations have been altered in a way that emphasizes warming trends (by a factor of 2 in the example).

    There is also a great irony in a CRU guy bringing up the question of standing up to scrutiny. That’s coming from the same CRU who don’t (and can’t, by their own admission) tell us exactly what adjustments they did on what data, for years.

  • NormD

    What is needed is surfacetemps.org which will (if they get it off the group) collect the surface temp data in one place with adjustments (with explanations!) and histories.

    Why anybody resists this is beyond me.

  • Stonyground

    Pete Ballard and NormD, I think that the aim is to make the process appear to be hugely difficult and complex and far too technical for lay people to understand. That way we have to trust what the scientists tell us and defer to their superior knowledge. Certainly computer models that mash up all the available data and attempt to make projections of the future climate are immensely complex and difficult to understand, but then the track record of these seems to be poor and of questionable value.

    Collating and analysing the raw data in order to produce some informative graphs is hardly rocket science though is it? Especially if the actual direction of temperature changes is the thing that you are trying to pin down.

  • ADiff

    Results which aren’t reproducible aren’t relevant. Only religions get a pass. Where does that leave the CRU if they can’t (or won’t) produce their data?

  • Waldo

    From Media-matters:

    “the Moscow-based Institute of Economic Analysis (IEA) is not a “climate change organization”; it is an economic and social policy think tank headed by Andrei Illarionov, an economist, climate skeptic, and fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute; moreover, the report was not about “their” data — it simply purported to analyze how the UK Met Office used data from Russian meteorological stations.”

    Just a thought.

  • MikeLoe

    Hey Waldo you really need to pull your head out of the sand. Facts are facts! Does it matter who reports the facts? Your apparently get information form far let political organizations like Media Matters who like most politicians tell half truths and therefor lie by omission.

  • Waldo

    “Does it matter who reports the facts?”

    Yes, it does. Otherwise how do you know they are, in fact, facts? How do you know that Media Matters isn’t telling you “facts”?

    Personally, I’ve had a hard time tracking this story to make sure that it is factual. I find it cross-posted on “The Register” and “Watts Up” and “Dakota Voice” and places like that.

    Sometimes people have a hard time telling the difference between implication, opinion, insinuation, urban legend and fact.

  • O Bloody Hell

    .

    Stonyground, not to defend, in any way, shape, or form the massive piles of bovine excrement that pass from the mouths of AGW supporters, Climate, like Economics, is in fact one of the most complex subjects tackled by human beings. It is hardly easy to get across what IS actually known, much less what is suspected, and why, without some degree of background understanding. Economics, in particular, for example, has A LOT of particularly counter-intuitive elements to it. The number of people who fail to grasp why the Broken Window Fallacy is a fallacy is legion. And half of them still won’t get it even after you explain it to them. Another particularly counter-intuitive bit is that the Fed cannot — yes, cannot — “save” money in the sense that you or I can do so. It’s inherently impossible, by definition. Most everyone reading this is going to boggle at that claim. It’s utterly and indisputably true, though. *I* certainly did the first time I encountered it, but I realized, after explanation, that it is, in fact, true. And those are really basic “facts” about economics. Climate is worse, if anything, because we’ve had the capacity to study it (which utterly and completely requires modern computers) only for the last 50 years or so. And much of the rules we do know are more rules-of-thumb than hard-and-fast understanding supported by mathematical rigor.

    My point here is that it’s not nefarious intent behind the ACTUAL SCIENCE that makes it seem that “I think that the aim is to make the process appear to be hugely difficult and complex and far too technical for lay people to understand” — it really, really is, in at least some cases, that complex. That’s not a defense for the AGW crowd, it’s just to help grasp that the science really isn’t all that simple.

    That’s part of the reason it’s such a great place for the crooks and charlatans of AGW to operate in…

    .

  • Stas Peterson

    The reason that this is at best a fool’s errand is that weather station historical reporting is being used for a purpose and accuracy that it is simply not able to attain, nor for a purpose for which it was intended.

    Historical weather reports were reported to trace the movement of warm and cold fronts so as to provide a means of 48 hour forecasting at best. Some data served to distinguish soltices and growing seasons. Much of the the equipment is of variable quality as are the measurements by variable uality personnel. The equipment is only accurate to a single degree of reading, if that, and the time of diurnal data capture was a temporal variation not thouhgt important.

    Yet along come ‘climate researchers’ who are trying to deduce centenial climate changes of a few hundredths of a single degree, many years later. No matter how much you average data reported in single degrees your average cannot have any validity to the degree plusor minus the third decimal place of a degree. Yet they pervert the data as if it did.

    Averages of Averages mean exactly nothing.

    What is the World’s average temperature and what does it mean, if anything? Nothing at all to a weather report and of limited utility to a climate report. True climate measurements are only now coming into existence, such as the Earth’s Radaition Budget measurement, from the ERBEE satellites, the polar ice extent as measured by satellites, and the calorimetric measure of the Oceans’ heat content, over time.

  • Pablo

    Ok it´s fun how the head works. It’s easy to change from a stress situation “like imminent climate change and the need to react” to a comfortable situation were no action is needed just with some few reports with a good timing. It´s seem`s like someone were saying…. “stop warring, relax..it will soon pass..” yast before sacrifing us. Do you think climate change is a bluff, like the degradation of the ozone, just travel and see it for yourself? I live in Uruguay 2500 Km south from Rio de Janerio. Here in summer you can not be in the open for more than 45 minutes because your skin would be badly heart. In 2001 I spend a 10 days walking without shirt and without sun protection a hole week in Rio de Janeiro and my skin gain a good color but was not burn. If I try these in Uruguay I would probably finish my trip in the hospital for more than a week.
    Don´t wait for some report to tell you what’s real or not; observe your surroundings and make your own conclusions. There is polarize information so only one would be true, use your observations to identify which one is real don`t believe the information that make you more comfortable.