As discussed here in three previous posts, over the past few years, several independent researchers have laboriously compared raw archived temperature data at numerous stations with adjusted data used by U.S government agencies NASA/GISS and NOAA/NCDC in calculating world temperatures and making declarations of "hottest year ever." The researchers have included Tony Heller of the Real Science web site, Paul Homewood of Not a Lot of People Know That, and Joe d'Aleo of ICECAP. In examination of data from scores of weather station sites, they have uniformly found that the adjustments have been to cool temperatures in older years and warm temperatures in later years, thereby creating or adding to a warming trend that does not exist in the raw data. Many of the adjustments have been significant -- 1 deg C or more -- and some have approached 3 deg C. The web sites in question contain links to the raw and adjusted data used in the calculations, so anyone with knowledge of any particular site could come forward and say, for example, that the raw data they are using for Reykjavik is wrong, or the adjustment for 1932 is justified by a move of the site from point A to point B in that year, or some such thing.
But I can't find any such challenges to the work of these researchers. In fact, most remarkable to me is the almost total silence from GISS and NCDC. As I mentioned in my July 2014 post, politifact had put a series of questions to NCDC on the subject of some specific adjustments at sites in Kansas and Texas, and their response can be found here. The response is extremely terse and the key quote is "our algorithm is working as designed." Judith Curry of Georgia Tech and the Climate Etc. site had said that "NOAA really needs to respond." But we get nothing in the way of specific justification for any adjustment, no code, no explanation.
Looking around in the last couple of days for any kind of response to very credible allegations, the closest I can find is a post from some scientists at Berkeley Earth that appears at Ms. Curry's web site. Berkeley Earth, for those unfamiliar, claims to be an "independent" organization, and is run by father and daughter Richard and Elizabeth Muller. They publish their major funders on their web site, and you can see that they have received significant amounts from the U.S. government, but more from various foundations, and they are not a U.S. government agency. Muller father claims to be a former climate skeptic who converted. I can't find any good evidence that he was ever a skeptic, and I would call him a global warming activist, but I'll let you do your own research and form your own conclusion.
Anyway, the Berkeley Earth response, dated February 9, appears at first blush to be long, detailed and technical. But I would call it hand-waving. The gist is, we've looked at these accusations and there's really nothing to them because overall they don't add up to any meaningful change in the overall world temperature series, so there's really nothing here. Trust us. Key quotes:
In general, noise and inhomogeneities in temperature data will make a temperature field rougher while homogenization practices and spatial averaging will make it smoother. Since the true temperature distribution is unknown, determining the right amount of homogenization to best capture the local details is challenging, and an active area of research. However, as noted above, it makes very little difference to the global averages.
In summary, it is possible to look through 40,000 stations and select those that the algorithm has warmed; and, it’s possible to ignore those that the algorithm has cooled. As the spatial maps show it is also possible to select entire continents where the algorithm has warmed the record; and, it’s possible to focus on other continents were the opposite is the case. Globally however, the effect of adjustments is minor. It’s minor because on average the biases that require adjustments mostly cancel each other out.
OK, I'm in the litigation business, and that goes exactly nowhere with me. Specific allegations demand a specific response, and no judge or jury I've ever been before would take this as a credible answer to the charges. Here are some specific questions that must be answered or no one who pays attention is going to believe a word you are saying:
- For each station where the independent researchers have demonstrated that adjustments have created or added to the warming trend, give us a specific justification for the adjustment. That justification must also support the specific magnitude of the adjustment. For example, what is the specific justification for adjustments coming to 2.26 deg C for Luling, Texas, or 5 deg F (2.6 deg C) for the state of Maine?
- You say that there are stations where the adjustments go in the opposite direction and that the total of all adjustments essentially cancels out. OK then, give us a list of stations where the adjustments go in the opposite direction, and enough of them with large enough quantitative adjustments to cancel out what the researchers have presented. How come nobody but you knows about them?
- Numerous adjustments have been identified that cool the past by multiple degrees, often 50 to 100 years after the fact. I can't think of any possible justification for this, and I'm not alone. Let's hear it!
- Address the arctic specifically. I note that a huge percentage of your warming trend has taken place in the arctic (north of 65N) and Homewood has attempted to go through all of those stations and has found uniform large adjustments to increase warming and not a single one in the other direction. Instead of addressing the arctic, you address "selected regions", leaving out Siberia and Canada entirely and blending the remainder with sub-arctic areas. Don't think we don't notice tricks like this!
- Let's see the code for your "homogenization" algorithm.
The Berkeley Earth post suggests that they may be coming forth with some of this information at some point in the future. We're eagerly awaiting it. In the current state of affairs, I would say that Goddard, Homewood, d'Aleo, et al. are way ahead.