Cold, hard facts take the heat out of some hot claims 

Not by Fire but by Ice


Discover What Killed the Dinosaurs . . . and Why it Could Soon Kill Us


22 August 07


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Cold, hard facts 
take heat out of hot claims
18 Aug 07 - Imagine if the American government agency responsible for temperature records had announced a fortnight ago that it had overestimated annual temperatures since the year 2000. Imagine if, at the time of correcting this error, the hottest year on record was mysteriously altered from 1998 to 1934. Imagine further that if you considered the 10 hottest years on record after these corrections, the hottest decade changed from the 1990s to the 1930s.

Would that change your views on global warming?

It should, because climate change theory says increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere raises the temperature. Yet the hot 1930s was hardly a decade of carbon-spewing industrial growth.

Well, all these things have happened. 

NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies calculates the average US temperature figures. It does this by processing data from land measurement sites. Earlier this year Canadian mathematician Steve McIntyre approached the institute and pointed out an error in its more recent calculations. Figures since 2000 had been inflated by about 0.15 of a degree celsius.

The institute thanked him and on August 7 quietly changed these figures. It did this without any public acknowledgment of the changes.

Strange as it might seem in a scientific field that spends some $6.4 billion a year on often abstruse research and computer modelling, the integrity of the basic temperature data is emerging as a serious problem. The Goddard Institute claims to correct data from poorly sited stations, but McIntyre says it refused to tell him how it does this in sufficient detail for him to check its results. When he obtained some of the raw data from specific sites and compared it with the processed temperatures created by the institute, he found problems. In one case data from a good site, at the Grand Canyon, had been changed to make the 1930s colder than they were.

Across the Atlantic, the British mathematician Douglas Keenan has claimed that two important academic papers on the reliability of Chinese weather stations are wrong. Keenan claims to have discovered that some of the Chinese stations have been moved a lot. One, for example, had five different locations from 1954 to 1983, over a distance of 41 kilometres. This makes the data largely useless.

No longer will Americans or anyone else be able to say the hottest year on record in their great nation was 1998. Looking at the new top 10, it's hard to see any signs of global warming. The ranking, starting from the hottest year, goes: 1934, 1998, 1921, 2006, 1931, 1999, 1953, 1990, 1938, 1939.

Thanks to Phil Wilkinson in Sydney for this link

See also:
The Convenient Mistake: 
9 Aug 07 - NASA quietly fixes flawed temperature data; 
1998 was NOT the warmest year in the millenium

See Convenient Mistake



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