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Noise on the Telegraph

Filed under: — rasmus @ 11 February 2015

I was surprised by the shrill headlines from a British newspaper with the old fashioned name the Telegraph: “The fiddling with temperature data is the biggest science scandal ever”. So what is this all about?

The story makes serious allegations, however Victor Venema explains why the Telegraph got it wrong in Variable Variability, and makes the point that three hand-picked stations from Paraguay – out of thousands – hardly matters. He also shows the effect of post-processing on the global mean temperature: it reduces the global trend compared to raw data.

The story also sparked some discussion between colleagues at the Norwegian Meteorological Institute, where I work, as several of us know the scientist cited in the paper quite well. It would be completely out of character that he’d endorse the views expressed in the article, and this is also what he conveyed to us.

The records show that the recent high temperatures on Iceland are unprecedented, contrary to the main message from the Telegraph. And the evidence is not just in the temperature, but in a wide range of observations.

I like to look at the numbers myself, especially since the journalist responsible for the Telegraph story, Christopher Booker, bases some of his allegations on climate records with which I have some experience. Booker dismisses the data records and claims that

weather stations across much of the Arctic, between Canada (51 degrees W) and the heart of Siberia (87 degrees E). Again, in nearly every case, the same one-way adjustments have been made, to show warming up to 1 degree C or more higher than was indicated by the data that was actually recorded.

It is implied that such adjustments have been made to the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) data as well as the data from the National Climate Data Center (NCDC).

The purports about systematic one-way adjustments can easily be tested by comparing the trends in the GISS data with the independent North Atlantic Climate Data (NACD) or a more recent temperature analysis for Svalbard by Nordli et al. (2014).

It is straightforward to test Booker’s claim with open-source methods and data (see R-srcipt), and when we compare the independent Svalbard temperature from Nordli et al (2014) with GISS, we see that the GISS data has a smaller annual mean trend than the independent Norwegian data set for the same years (Figure 1).

Comparison between Nordli et al. (2014) and the GISS annual mean temperature for Svalbard. - See more at:

Comparison between Nordli et al. (2014) and the GISS annual mean temperature for Svalbard.

But is Svalbard representative for the this part of the Arctic? We can repeat the exercise for the most important temperature records from this region, and it is clear that there is no one-way adjustment, as purported in the Telegraph (Figure 2). In other words, our inspection of the actual data shows that Booker’s claim is false.

Comparison of the trend in annual mean temperature between NACD and GISS data for a number of locations in the North Atlantic and the Barents region. The size of the symbol indicates the length of the temperature record.

Comparison of the trend in annual mean temperature between NACD and GISS data for a number of locations in the North Atlantic and the Barents region. The size of the blue symbols indicates the length of the temperature record.

Another question is why there are differences between the different data sets. The GISS data are mostly taken from raw world weather records that have not been subject to the same quality control and homogenisation as the NACD or the Svalbard temperature of Nordli et al (2014).

Homogenisation is needed to remove effects from non-climatic artifacts, such as a change in the formula over time for estimating monthly mean values. Other conditions may include relocation of the thermometer, urban encroachment, or replacement of the instruments. GISS uses the GHCN adjustments, rather than doing it itself, but the way the GHCN corrects for artifacts may be different to the local met services.

Booker also accuses GISS and NCDC of using

“the warming trends to estimate temperatures across the vast regions of the Earth where no measurements are taken”.

A bizzare claim, and one may wonder why it seems so natural for Booker to make associations with misconduct. George Monbiot, on the other hand, has referred to him as a charlatan bent on spreading misinformation. In any case, a person who writes such a misleading story shows little respect for his readers.


  1. . Nordli, R. Przybylak, A.E. Ogilvie, and K. Isaksen, "Long-term temperature trends and variability on Spitsbergen: the extended Svalbard Airport temperature series, 1898–2012", Polar Research, vol. 33, pp. 21349, 2014.

123 Responses to “Noise on the Telegraph”

  1. 51

    #45–Euan, since you feel that this is important, perhaps you should be the ‘someone?’

    It’s pretty straightforward; go to the GISTEMP home page, find the links for land-only NH & SH data, which are clearly labeled. Open, copy into a text file, import into the software of your choice–the ubiquitous Excel is perfectly adequate. Use said software to generate a graph of both data series.

    Done. I doubt it takes an hour–or even half an hour–depending upon experience with the software’s chart generation tools.

    (Hint for Excel: the ‘transpose’ function can be a great time-saver, as I think you need to put the data in columns, not rows, for the chart to work at all.)

    Have fun…

  2. 52
    gavin says:

    The hemispheric means for the Met-Station index are in this file and are easily plotted:

    As is easily seen, the hemispheric trends are not the same. – gavin

  3. 53
    Pragmatist says:

    Mal Adapted @39

    “Surely you don’t think any amount of explanation will put an end to the firestorm”

    Is that a “no”? Homewood is gaining traction because he is 1) pointing out significant disparities among the NCDC datasets and 2) quoting independent climate analyses that support his claim that the NCDC algorithm is incorrectly adjusting temperature records in several regions (e.g., Iceland sea ice 1965-1971). Why not just have a look at the specific adjustments made at the 19 stations and comment on whether they appear valid? What’s wrong with this straightforward approach?

  4. 54
    Euan Mearns says:

    MA Rodger #47, thanks for going to the bother of posting that, it is appreciated. I have in the interim, found the data and made my own charts that are aligned with yours. I agree that the gradient is sensitive to the start and stop dates. We can certainly draw a line through that one ;-)

    Kevin McKinney #50, I’ve been there and done it. I found it rather strange that these charts were not readily available in the GISS library and that a Google images search turned up nothing on GISS temp N and S hemisphere – you’d have thought they would be all over the web. Hence…

    [Response: As I said, the data were, and are, available directly. Not all possible plots are generated automatically. – gavin]

    Hank Roberts #48 and #49 I was simply looking for a chart of GISS temp N and S hemispheres. The provenance of the screen cap was clearly stated in my comment:

    I wonder if this screen cap from the GISS temp home page might show something similar to Roger’s observation?

    I didn’t strip or edit anything. You need to enquire else where about that.

    @ Gavin My Comment #56

    [Response: That appears to have generated more than a decade ago, and in any case it is also of the LOTI index. There have been many updates in coverage, data sources and algorithms since then and so it is not in the least bit relevant to your claims this week. – gavin]

    Our understanding of history then appears to have evolved a lot in the last decade comparing that with the chart at #29. Is there a log somewhere that documents changes of data cover and algorithms used?

    [Response: This would all be much easier if you actually read the information on the website, and the papers that are referenced (Hansen et al, 2001; Hansen et al 2010 etc.). Updates are clearly posted here and here. For reference, there is also an FAQ. – gavin]

  5. 55
    Euan Mearns says:

    @ Gavin #52

    As is easily seen, the hemispheric trends are not the same.

    …. since about 1997

    I’ve already conceded that the gradient is time span sensitive. I made this chart of the difference between N and S, guessing that the structure has something to do with multi-decade ocean / atmosphere cycles.

    Other commenters should note the date is simply from the WordPress log. So that horse is flogged to death :-(

    Roger sent me his spread sheet, 900+ lines of data, it will take me some time to reflect on this.

  6. 56
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Pragmatist says … significant disparities

    You should look that word up. It doesn’t mean what you think it means, in scientific comparisons.

  7. 57
    Russell says:

    Curbing its inner Jacobin, The Guardian has apologized for blog comments suggesting Matt Ridley be beheaded for climate denial.

  8. 58
    stock says:

    Please post the spreadsheets that comprise the charts and their basis.

  9. 59
    MARodger says:

    Euan Mearns @54.

    Hurrah!! We have a concession from you. You are happy with the notion that the wibbly-wobbly traces of NH & SH land temperatures only present “IDENTICAL” trends of warming because the two regression-derived trends will be both sensitive to the choice of start-end times. Choose your start-end times carelessly (or with care) and, voila, the NH & SH trends are the same. I’m also happy because I find that explanation is entirely understandable and thus not “highly suspicious / bordering on physical impossible.”

    But I note you fail to mention the second point I made @48. As you also failed to comment on the very same point when made @27, is this signs of some deep-seated denial you are suffering from?

    So Euan Mearns, if you wish to be treated seriously, do address the second point @48. Why, if BEST reaches the same result for these SH land temperatures (with BEST being a temperature record created independently of the GHCN); why does this not provide strong support for the GHCN homogenisation work? Does this not point to there being no gross error to investigate? Does this not demonstrate that the accusations of Homewood, Booker and indeed Roger Andrews are narrow, poorly founded and likely plain wrong?

  10. 60
    Euan Mearns says:

    @ Gavin response to 54

    Thanks for the links to the logs. I’ve had a quick look and this seems very much in order as one would expect. In my opening comment I pointed out that I knew very little about how the surface temperature records are constructed. As a result of activity over the last couple of weeks the main thing I’ve learned is that quite large corrections are made to some data and this has surprised me. Of course one is entitled to make corrections where the reasons are well-understood and magnitudes are constrained.

  11. 61
    Mal Adapted says:


    Why not just have a look at the specific adjustments made at the 19 stations and comment on whether they appear valid? What’s wrong with this straightforward approach?

    Nothing wrong with that approach at all, except that someone has to take the time to do it, when there are more productive things to do. In any case, it won’t put a stop to the relentless attack on climate science by professional AGW-deniers, on behalf of investors whose business model depends on socializing the climate costs of production. The “firestorm” you refer to isn’t about science, it’s about money.

  12. 62
    Eli Rabett says:

    Simple question: Is anybody going to explain the specific adjustments made by the NCDC algorithm for the temperature records from the 19 stations in Paul Homewood’s analysis? Until that happens, the firestorm will continue.

    Perhaps when Paul Homewood makes available his complete correspondence with the Dirección de Meteorología e Hidrología del Republica del Paraguay showing the entire metadata for those 19 stations it might be possible. Till then the BEST records showing station moves will have to do. Also this

  13. 63
    mmghosh says:

    Even Judith Curry (channelling Steve Mosher) isn’t buying Christopher Booker.

  14. 64
    William says:

    You have to bear in mind when talking to Euan that he really believes climate science to be corrupt because that is what his favorite websites tell him. If you feed on a constant diet of trash like WUWT (which has some “top notch” articles according to Euan) you really do start to see malfeasance everywhere. Eaun won’t accuse Gavin & co of fraud here because he is the supplicant trying to be polite, but on his blog you find some gems.

    When someone recently said Euan was:

    Continually alleging large scale corruption of various international bodies, calling the credibility of many professional researchers into question

    Eaun said,

    Well I’m not aware of doing that but in the same breath can say that is part of the raison d’être of the blog. I am here to challenge the establishment and corrupt science.

    When talking about recent reports that 2014 was the warmest ever, Roger Andrews, Euan’s sidekick, asked:

    What do you call this? Dishonesty? Withholding information? Failure to disclose? Breach of trust? I know what I call it, and the word begins with “F”.

    Eaun’s reply was:

    Euan Mearns says:
    January 19, 2015 at 7:44 am

    Yes Roger, its outright fraud. NASA have a satellite up there measuring temperatures at different levels in the atmosphere.The data from that satellite show clearly that 2014 was not the warmest year and yet they claim it was based on an incorrect analysis of their own cooked ground based data.

    Apart from his quaint understanding of NASA’s satellite “measuring temperatures”, note how often he and Roger like to imply wrongdoing, fraud, cooked data, corrupt science. I’ve asked him how this worldwide conspiracy is planned an coordinated but he won’t tell.

    What I find ironic now is his and Roger’s reluctance to just release their code and data. They’d be amongst those demanding it if the shoe was on the other foot. I suppose it takes time to make it presentable…

  15. 65

    Kevin McKinney #50, I’ve been there and done it. I found it rather strange that these charts were not readily available in the GISS library…

    Euan, with respect, you probably didn’t find that as strange as I find your response.

    If you had ‘been there and done that’ then why on Earth would you request ‘someone’ to duplicate your efforts? It seems to me less than respectful of folk’s time.

  16. 66
    Euan Mearns says:

    @ Kevin#65

    Well I’d literally just done it. Found the data and plotted the charts between making the request and posting that comment.

    @ William #64

    It is very strange that the United States of America National Aeronautics and Space Administration who have (or associated government institution) have a satellite up there measuring temperatures but choose to brief the president using ground based measurements that are subject to corrections, revisions and limitations instead. Maybe the president was briefed differently? I seem to recall that the statement had something like 35% certainty.

    [Response: Funny. The MSU satellites (over a dozen since 1979) are operated mainly by NOAA (not NASA) and have had multiple “corrections and revisions” made since they were first used to estimate atmospheric (not surface) temperatures (Hint: the absolute global mean value of MSU-TLT is around -2ºC). They also have “limitations” (as does any data source), not the least of which is that three different analyses of that raw data give very different long term trends. I have no insight into how the President gets briefed on anything, but the surface temperature analyses from NOAA and NASA both showed 2014 as a record year, though statistically close to 2010 and 2005. In both cases 2014 is by far the most likely year to have been the warmest as discussed in the previous post. Your implication that continuing to analyse the surface temperature data is somehow perverse because there are satellite analyses measuring something else is… odd. – gavin]

    I was going to suggest to Gavin earlier, but refrained from doing so, but since you force my hand. You need to consider the possibility that the response of Homewood and subsequently Booker is born out of anger at the need on behalf of NASA GISS to make a case for 2014 being the warmest year when if my understanding is correct, the data have uncertainties and the statement needs to be qualified by probabilities.

    [Response: All data have uncertainties and pretty much any statement about the real world needs to be qualified by probabilities. Why should that be a source of anger? Let alone anger accompanied by nonsense accusations? – gavin]

    A more trivial example would be the argument that recent heavy snow fall in Boston is caused by global warming. I can’t recall who made these claims, but it all smacks of desperation and IMO undermines much of the good work that is done. Warmists wishing for climate melt down and sceptics wishing for a new ice age is not a constructive way to go.

    [Response: Neither is it constructive to claim that any data adjustment is fraud. – gavin]

    The politicisation of this subject clouds many issues. But in the UK, I think it would be fair to say that there are no costs currently that could be confidently attributed to man made climate change. There are enormous environmental, economic and human costs that can already be attributed directly to trying to prevent it.

  17. 67
    MARodger says:

    William @64.
    You say Euan & Roger “won’t tell” how it is “this worldwide conspiracy is planned an coordinated” and this is no surprise to me. I won’t tell either. Because if I did, the shape-shifting lizards would have to kill me, and you.

    As for the worth of examining Roger’s “code and data,” I would normally see this as denialists tossing the ball down a very deep rabbit hole. But there is one question I look to see an answer to.
    From scaling the graphs presented at the Mearns/Andrews blogsite, I measure the adjustments to GISS global temperatures due to homogenisation according to Roger as 1900-2010 0.30ºC, 1800-2000 – 0.40ºC. The data I snaffled from Reading Uni (sorry KevinC) gives 1900-2010 – 0.29ºC, 1800-2000 – 0.30ºC (as graphed here). So Roger’s Global results aren’t entirely wrong. As a view of things, they may prove to be less photo and more Picaso, but a brave piece of work.
    But the curious things start to happen when you examine the Hemispheric graphs. These yield the following figures: 1800-2010 – NH 0.05ºC, SH 0.54ºC, 1990-2000 – NH 0.03ºC, SH 0.77ºC. Now this could in the usual run of things be a simple careless error, calculating the global and just one hemisphere from the data and then using that data to infer the other hemisphere but forgetting that this is hemispheres of land, so the ratio is not 50:50 but 32:68.
    However, this isn’t the normal run of things. The herculean task Roger has been involved in, his creating his raw data temperature record, that is all about area-weighting those raw data and using 50:50 instead of 32:68 is also area-weighting. This then is no simple error. It is falling flat on your face at the last hurdle.
    So myself, I’m curious to know which hurdle Roger was actually jumping at the time.
    (Of course, given that the level of error in his argument on the Mearns/Andrews blogsite is approaching ubiquitous, it may well be Roger has been kicking hurdles over right, left and centre.)

  18. 68
    Paul S says:

    #40, Roger Andrews – Methodology is clearly relevant. Your conclusion is based on your own ad hoc homogenisation, projection and averaging procedures.

    The thing is, these choices are less likely to matter for the Northern Hemisphere due to good sampling and large land fraction. In the Southern Hemisphere there is much less land and sampling isn’t great at the beginning of the historical period. The method of projection and averaging therefore becomes vital (along with choices of which station data to exclude).

    To give an example, Berkeley Earth provide their own hemispherical averages here and you can use Climate Explorer to produce hemispherical averages from gridded Berkeley Earth data. Comparing Berkeley’s own averaging with Climate Explorer’s for the Southern Hemisphere reveals a 30% difference in trend from 1890-2010. However there is only a 5% difference for the Northern Hemisphere.

    Regarding your latitudinal trend graph, you can see the same pattern using the GISS tool here.

    A couple of suggestions for honing in on the difference between what you’ve produced and the GISS record:

    1) Produce a map, like the one on the above link, displaying geographical trends for comparison with the relevant GISS map.

    2) Download the individual homogenised GISS station data from and replace your GHCN station subset with the GISS data for those same stations. Then perform your projection and averaging again.

  19. 69
    wili says:

    May I humbly suggest that anyone who uses the term “warmists” be boreholed? What could say more loudly or obnoxiously “I don’t accept any of the climate science that is being presented on this or on any other legitimate science blog.” Really, people with such an attitude toward the science have no business on a science blog. Just my humble opinion.

  20. 70

    Euan, #66–“Well I’d literally just done it.”

    OK, fair enough. Appreciate the clarification.

    You need to consider the possibility that the response of Homewood and subsequently Booker is born out of anger at the need on behalf of NASA GISS to make a case for 2014 being the warmest year…

    I think you’re close, there. I think the ‘response’ was born of either ‘anger’ or tactical argumentation that the 2014 record has largely nullified a good (if actually untrue) talking point, ie., the meme that there was ‘no warming.’ Perhaps you might consider that as a possibility?

    As to the record, think of it this way: there is a 100% probability that the record was indeed the record according to normal, established methods of calculating that record. The lower probability relates only to secondary uncertainties.

    Now, why would anyone want to obfuscate that fact by conflating the two? ;-)

  21. 71
    wili says:

    “…climate change may have affected the snowstorm — may have made it more likely, may have made it worse than it would have been without so much greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. It bears repeating: “All weather events are affected by climate change because the environment in which they occur is warmer and moister than it used to be.” ”

    Trenberth: …”the environment has warmed especially compared to 1978 (when the last set of major snow storms occurred), boosting the odds of huge amounts of snow. Part of the warming is from human activities increasing heat trapping gases (carbon dioxide) which have warmed the global oceans.

    …the result is sea surface temperatures off the coast exceeding 7°F above normal in parts and 4°F over huge expanses, thereby resulting in 15 to 20% more moisture in the atmosphere.

    That moisture gets caught up in the storms, likely invigorating the storms themselves, and the result is major snow storms. “

  22. 72
    wili says:

    Michael Mann twitter: “If you deny that warmer ocean temps -> greater snowfall w/ coastal winter storms, you are not a climate denier. You are a physics denier.”

  23. 73
    Mal Adapted says:

    Euan Mearns:

    The politicisation of this subject clouds many issues. But in the UK, I think it would be fair to say that there are no costs currently that could be confidently attributed to man made climate change. There are enormous environmental, economic and human costs that can already be attributed directly to trying to prevent it.

    Your first sentence is self-evidently true, since you are doggedly politicizing a trivial scientific issue. The other two sentences are evidence-free assertions, that are a priori at least as likely to be false as to be true. The burden is on you to convince us, and I’m afraid your “I think it is fair to say” weaselling doesn’t excuse you. We’re waiting, Euan.

  24. 74
    Robin Levett says:

    @Euan Mearns #66 :

    “But in the UK, I think it would be fair to say that there are no costs currently that could be confidently attributed to man made climate change. There are enormous environmental, economic and human costs that can already be attributed directly to trying to prevent it.”

    Are. You Serious?

    Set out the “enormous….costs” you attribute to trying to prevent ACC; and explain how the changes in UK climate over the last 50 years which have created enormous costs are nothing to do with ACC.

  25. 75
    William says:

    …the response of Homewood…Booker is born out of anger at the need on behalf of NASA GISS to make a case for 2014 being the warmest year when … the data have uncertainties and the statement needs to be qualified by probabilities.

    I’ve heard of road rage, but “probabilty rage”? Indirect probability rage moreover – Homewood and Booker were so outraged by the lack of qualifying probabilities in a NASA statement that it caused you to accuse NASA of “outright fraud”. We’re going to need a psychologist on this one I think.

    I have to admit ignorance here, but until this fuss about 2014 being the hottest ever, I wasn’t aware of each year having an error margin. Of course they do but it just hadn’t occurred to me. It must have been clear to you, Holmwood and Booker of course for you to get so enraged by the lack of qualifying probabilities in that statement. So I wonder why I’ve never heard you or any of NASA’s other accusers describing the “pause” as a “pause at x% significance level” or the “y% probability” of there having been no change in temperature since your favorite cherry picked date. Or the supposed medieval warm period being qualified by a probability. Never seen it but it is quite possible that I missed it. Can you help there? Or have you only recently caught probability rage?

    enormous environmental, economic and human costs

    I’m guessing you mean your view was “ruined” by a windfarm.

  26. 76
    Hank Roberts says:

    > costs currently attributed


  27. 77
    Euan Mearns says:

    @ Robin Levett #74

    Interested to know where you stay, I live in Aberdeen Scotland, living on the edge of democracy where meeting CO2 emissions targets rules. We have notionally 6GW peak winter demand and we already have about 7 GW installed wind turbine capacity and so on a windy day will satisfy our power needs from “carbon free” electricity. We also have about 2 GW of nuclear power with at least 10 years service left. The local CCGT (Peterhead) is possibly being converted to CCS and the local 2.4 GW coal fired station (Longannet) must surely close since we are gagging on expensive electricity. Add to that another 6.5 GW of wind that is consented and being built.

    All this energy infrastructure does not bother me most of the time, but it bothers some people all of the time. The costs act as a drag on the economy. The USA powers ahead on shale, while Europe withers on renewables. GW = G$ At least this was the case until recently.

    Data shows that when the wind blows in Scotland it blows in Ireland, England, Denmark and Germany too. And so with 13 GW of wind we will have a huge surplus with nowhere to go. This is all paid for by the consumer through consumer paid subsidies called ROCs and FITs. Something approaching $2trillion has been spent on renewable infrastructure. And that does not begin to address the costs of balancing – paying FF plants to stay on reserve, and all the power lines and interconnectors we have everywhere.

    I have lived in this part of the world for a greater part of my life and spent some considerable time researching how climate has changed here. The answer is very little. The AMO and NAO seem to account for much but not all of what is going on.

    The link between sunshine and temperature based on UK climate records since 1933

    UK temperatures since 1956 – physical models and interpretation of temperature change

    I hope that you can at least appreciate that I have put a little effort into researching background.

    As for climate change costs. Using winter storms of 2014 as an example. The main costs there on Somerset Levels and at Windsor on the Thames can be traced quite simply to changes in water management engineering priorities.

    The costs of mitigation are being borne by many people now. I’m guessing NY chugs along on nuclear and coal.

  28. 78
    michael sweet says:

    Euan Mears:
    You claim “You need to consider the possibility that the response of Homewood and subsequently Booker is born out of anger at the need on behalf of NASA GISS to make a case for 2014 being the warmest year when if my understanding is correct, the data have uncertainties and the statement needs to be qualified by probabilities.”

    Google turns up the slides Gavin used when he announced the 2014 temperature record here. The fourth slide shows the probabilities you claim were hidden. Gavin discussed them with reporters at the very first opportunity, they have always been available to anyone who wants them. Do you expect Gavin to make the uncertainty the first slide?
    Your claim is simply false, like the rest of your argument.

  29. 79
    joe says:

    Media and communications hype and misinformation aside A CLEAR RECORD HAS BEEN ESTABLISHED FOR 2014. 2014 has the greatest probability of being the hottest ever. No other year can lay claim to this record. This is a record that 2013 DID NOT have. 2014 is the only year like this. Sounds like a record to me.

  30. 80
    joe says:

    I appreciate making the research as ‘reproducible’ as possible, but could anyone give a hint on how to get the R script to work? The script says to download the data from:

    And apparently it uses the 18th GISS file for comparision. I don’t see where to get these files from the page linked above. All there appears to be is a ‘compressed text file’ link, and then data for individual stations.

  31. 81
    jgnfld says:

    @70, @79 It’s “interesting” that deniers fall back on Type 2 error (power) to deny that 2014 was the warmest year on record yet deny that the same Type 2 error shows their assertion of “there has been no warming since year X” is more likely the result of cherrypicking bias than of fact due to cherrypicking those years to start the analysis in the first place (where X is now 2001 in the GISS series rather than the mistakenly still cited by deniers 1997 or 1998).

    The Red Queen would be proud of such thinking.

  32. 82
    MARodger says:

    Euan Mearns @77.
    You may feel happy droning on about windfarm capacity and the meteorology of eastern Scotland. (It reminds me of a conversation I had with a old shepherd from Lairg, about how the grass was still growing up there in the first week of January. “We don’t get winters here any more,” was how he put it.) But this is meant to be a comment thread that stays on-topic and that is precisely to stop old bores whittering on about any old nonsense and filling the thread with a herd of galloping hobby-horses.
    And, Euan Mearns, I still await your reply as to why BEST homoginisation produces the same results as GISS GHCN homogenisation yet you only accuse GHCN of being wrong. You may feel you can ignore me but it is not just me you are failing to respond to on this matter.

  33. 83
    MARodger says:

    Correcting #67.
    I see I had an attack of fat-finger @67 which is a little ironic given the thrust of what I wrote was accusations of error. Perhaps I should read through this stuff I tap out before I hit ‘Submit Comment’. And maybe I should wear my glasses when I do that.
    The various warming adjustments @67 are, of course, all 1900-2000 or 1900-2010. The multiple 1800 and the 1990 should all read 1900.

  34. 84
    Ray Ladbury says:

    The problem with the approach of Mssrs. Mearns and Andrews is that they are analyzing data they don’t understand with techniques they don’t understand and claiming fraud based on the fact they can’t understand the result. They can find no evidence for their position–in part because they don’t even understand what constitutes scientific evidence.

    This is the typical calvinball played by those in denial of the basic science. Since they cannot do science, their only tactic is to attack those who do.

  35. 85
    Robin Levett says:

    @Euan Mearns #77 16 Feb 2015 at 4:04 PM:

    “Interested to know where you stay, I live in Aberdeen Scotland, living on the edge of democracy where meeting CO2 emissions targets rules.”

    Southeast England.

    I’m not quite sure how Oil Central UK and Western Europe can be described as a place “where meeting CO2 emissions targets rules”, but you know your local area better than I.

    On the disproportion between your local energy generation capacity and local energy needs – that’s why we have a Grid. It makes virtually no sense to look at local imbalances, unless both transmission losses are a significant factor and the capacity could be built closer to the consumer.

    On intermittency of wind (and of course the same is true for solar), there are two major issues; firstly the extent to which it is necessary to have overcapacity on the Grid on a long term basis to cover periods of low wind, and secondly the extent to which it is necessary to have capacity spinning but not used to cover short-term variations in wind power. The first is indeed an issue, albeit a manageable one – but the additional caapital cost of building the overcapacity is offset by the impact of the increase in fossil fuel prices over the lifetime of installed capacity. The inefficiency factor is however negligible, as National Grid told the Scottish Parliament at the back end of 2012.

    As for “The USA powers ahead on shale” – that depends on whether you believe wildly optimistic industry overestimates recycled by the EIA. There are suggestions – – that US shale gas will peak by 2020 without massive new discoveries, as compared with EIA estimates of no peak before 2040. Given gas generation capacity lifetimes of the order of 30 years, it looks like a brick wall that the US is powering ahead into.

    I’ve read your two posts linked. You suggest that cloud is a forcing that significantly affects UK climate. Where does the cloud come from/go to – geographically and physically?

    The winter storms of 2013-4 affected rather more than just the Somerset Levels (more properly the Somerset Moors – the Levels form a sill between the Moors and the Bristol Channel) and Windsor. Have you read this report? While properly cautious in attribution of the events to AGW, it demonstrates that “changes in water management priorities” were at best a minor contributor to the damage caused.

    Taking the Somerset Moors as an example; you’ve got a bowl which is at about 3m above MSL. The annual average tidal range at Burnham on Sea, where its rivers drain, is closer to 14m. As a result, for a large part of the time, any gravity-mediated water flow would be from the Channel inland. If you have westerly storms, mean sea level rises as does the tidal range, so the proportion of time during which water can drain into the Channel falls even further.

    The winter storms poured a lot of water into that bowl; extra dredging, if it had had any effect, would simply have got the water to where it couldn’t drain into the Bristol Channel a little quicker; and then it would have backed up.

  36. 86
    Gail says:

    More fundamental than the science that appears in journals, is the PROCESS of science that produces it. Who is paying the scientists, where does the vested interest of the funder lie? This will give us some idea of how the science is being conducted – towards finding the truth, or serving the financial or ideological interests of the funder? Science or pseudo-science?

  37. 87
    Susan Anderson says:

    re: “the PROCESS of science”:

    Research has to be funded and people have to live. In a perfect world we would magically be able to dissociate ourselves from any vestige of the appearance of influence. It’s a complicated puzzle and the system is breaking down thanks to the influence of people who want government benefits such as education, infrastructure, health care (“don’t let government mess with my Medicare”) without paying for them.* The power mad right are busy defunding anything that might, for example, increase our knowledge of planetary dynamics since they don’t like the results. The military is only supposed to kill people, not work on solutions to the coming chaos mentioned here, because once again they don’t want to hear reality-based analyses:

    It’s one of those cases like peer review where the system we have is the worst except for all the others.

    Patronage or wealth has always been necessary for science and art. It is hard to know how to separate money and influence, but government is less likely to pursue bias than our new billionaires, though it is true that some billionaires fund projects for the common weal.

    *A great example of cost cutting is Boston. We have a new governor who was elected partly to cut government spending, while public transit is in breakdown because of demanding people do more with less. As time goes on with all this theft of funds from the public domain, there will be more and bigger problems from the ignorance of bias and refusal to act as a community that includes everyone.

    I’ve gone off topic, but the attempt to cut off the flow of information makes my blood boil.

  38. 88
    Susan Anderson says:

    I should try to be less biased myself. That comment on the military should have said something like “protect us” only from political threats that are not associated with things like rescuing us from sea level rise or weird weather. These threats are interwoven, and the point is that as time goes on, desperate people who can arm themselves, particularly the young, will create additional threats to life and property.

  39. 89
    Ray Ladbury says:


    If the result of the science depends on whose signature is on the paychecks, then it ain’t science. The BEST results provide an illustration of this. Paid for by the Koch bros, it validates the prior scientific efforts. Science works. Don’t get bogged down in ad hominem attacks, regardless of which side is making them.

  40. 90

    As for “The USA powers ahead on shale” – that depends… it looks like a brick wall that the US is powering ahead into.

    I’d submit that both this comment and the one it was responding to rather underappreciate other elements and trends going on in the US energy system. In 2014, for instance, wind and solar together added a tad more capacity than did natural gas:

    (And solar additions had a relatively down year, which won’t last given present price trends.)

    But this would be more appropriately discussed on the Unforced Variations thread.

  41. 91
    aaron Lewis says:

    Mostly, climate science is funded by governments. It started as better weather prediction and climate science allowed agriculture and industry to be more productive. Farmers may scoff at any one weather forecast, but they have used climate science to grow more food.

    US government funding of research on El Nino, started at the behest of US fishing interests.

    The concept is that better information allows better decisions by both public and private managers. The bottom line is that unbiased information about weather and climate allows farmers and industry to be more productive.

    Using science to improve agricultural productivity (and keep food cost down) has been a part of American public policy since 1863.

  42. 92
    Euan Mearns says:

    MA Rodger #59

    I should start by saying that I came here with a QUESTION about Roger’s work without first mentioning it to him – he is mighty pissed off with me.

    So Euan Mearns, if you wish to be treated seriously, do address the second point @48. Why, if BEST reaches the same result for these SH land temperatures (with BEST being a temperature record created independently of the GHCN); why does this not provide strong support for the GHCN homogenisation work? Does this not point to there being no gross error to investigate?

    Taken me a bit of time to check through things. Here’s BEST N and S hemispheres. And a map from their recent memo.

    So this is land only, no GHCN homogenisation. To my mind the N and S look completely different. Two things. First the South is much more a continuous warming trend from 1860. And second it seems to be warming at a much slower rate than the N. For example, in 1990 the N was warming at a rate of 3.56˚C per century while the S was warming at a rate of 1.15˚C per century. That’s a huge difference that seems to be in a direction aligned with Roger’s observations. The 1860, 1910, 1960, 1990 warming rates in the S are 0.81, 0.94, 1.34, 1.15˚C per century. There is no significant change with time. Note the Y-axis scales differ: 2˚C range for the S and 3.5˚C range for the N.

    So I’m not sure what to make of this, hope I haven’t made any observational errors since as already noted I am no expert on compilation of these records. I’m sure if I’ve made a mistake you will let me know.

  43. 93
    Euan Mearns says:

    I’ve actually overlaid the N and S charts. The trends are actually very similar up to about 1940. But then the cooling leg is pretty well absent in the S and the gradient of the warming trend since 1970 is way lower than that in the N.

  44. 94
    John Monro says:

    Thanks for the article, but you’d probably do well to totally ignore the Telegraph and Christopher Booker. One cannot understand the motivation for this paper’s refusal to acknowledge global warming other than that we know the more right-wing one is, and the Telegraph is pretty right wing, the less likely it is that one will accept such science. There are several important reasons for this, and Naomi Klein writes about this in her book “This Changes Everything”; I assume many posting here will have read this book. Christopher Booker is a proud contrarian, totally scientifically illiterate, like Lord Lawson and other big players in the UK, and we know that such people will never change their view, they will take their certainty to their graves. (Max Planck’s well known quote is apposite here). By all means discuss any genuine scientific contention here, but it truly is a complete waste of your time even to acknowledge this sort of stupidity.

    By the by, would anyone reckon that a review or discussion of “This Changes Everything” might be worth posting on this site?

  45. 95
    RodneyF says:

    Returning to the newspaper in the title of this thread, have a look at recent editorial policy at the Daily Telegraph:
    This gives an indication as to why Booker’s style of journalism is not questioned.

  46. 96
    Eli Rabett says:

    Euan is apparently in the dark about how the UK power grid including Scotland is being integrated into the European mainland grid by underwater connectors. This has the advantage of making backup power from the French nuclear plants available when the wind don’t blow (btw Denmark got 39% of its power from wind last year) and excess power from the wind available to other parts of Europe when is does.

    There are many things that Euan does not know

  47. 97
    MARodger says:

    Euan Mearns @92.
    So let us compare BEST NH with NCDC NH land and GIS NH land as graphed here. There is pretty much no difference. And we have already compared BEST SH with NCDC SH land & GISS SH land (here). They too are very similar. So for both NH & SH BEST, NCDC and GISS speak with one voice. And they tell us that over the last 40 years or so, the NH warming trend has been twice the rate of the SH warming trend. This has been a message presented to you countless times down this thread.
    If it has still not sunk in, how about some regressions to find the 1970-2000 trend from the various data sets.

    NCDC .. NH 0.89˚C … SH 0.53˚C
    GISS …. NH 0.83˚C … SH 0.43˚C
    BEST … NH 0.86˚C … SH 0.36˚C
    Average .. NH 0.86˚C … SH 0.44˚C

    This is pretty much what Roger showed in his Figure 4 with his 1970-2000 raw temperature data. And this is what we would expect from the Reading Uni analysis that showed there was very little GHCN homogenisation adjustment over this period.
    It has only been you & Roger insisting GISS showed the same warming trend NH & SH over this period, this an assertion based solely on a NH & SH regression 1900-2010 which we now agree is dependent on choice of start & end date.

    You tell us @ “To my mind the N and S look completely different.” Indeed so, different as shown by BEST, GISS and NCDC, all of which are singing off the same hymn sheet.

    So are you still only accusing GISS & NCDC of being wrong because they use GHCN homoginisation?

  48. 98

    #97–Of course NH & SH trends are different. The SH is much, much more ‘watery’, and land areas warm much more quickly than do ocean areas.

    I know you know this, MAR, but perhaps there’s them as doesn’t, naming no names.

  49. 99
    Douglas McClean says:

    And not only that, MARodger #97, but Euan Mearns spent the whole early part of the thread (see 21 and 29) claiming that GISS showed “identical” (his wording) warming between the NH and SH. He first implied and then repeatedly implied fraud, saying that it was “suspicious” several times.

    He now has completely flipped on that, agreeing with everyone and with reality that GISS shows different rates of warming in the NH and SH. He’ll probably now agree with you that GISS and BEST agree very well.

    But where is even a pro forma apology for the accusations of fraud?!?

    Nowhere to be found. Sweep the bullshit fraud allegations down the memory hole, because a detailed investigation of them only makes him look foolish. Far better to simply gallop on to the next bullshit allegation, leaving the half-remembered stink of this one to mingle with a hundred others lingering in the minds of disinformed conspiracy theorists.

  50. 100
    Chris Dudley says:

    Susan (#88),

    The military has concerns about climate change because it both impacts readiness and may increase the level of conflict in which our forces may be involved. Many bases are threatened by sea level rise. High heat days impact physical training (black flag conditions) and heat stroke is a problem for soldiers (5246 hospitalizations, 37 deaths between 1980 and 2002 ) Climate change was involved in the ongoing unrest in the Middle East that started in Tunisia The military has had involvement in that including air support in Libya and now a war resolution for the Syrian civil war fallout. Domestically, the National Guard is involved in fighting wild fires which climate change is promoting.

    Climate change impacts how effective the military can be so it needs to be confronted.