back to article Forget 'climate convert' Muller: Here's the real warming blockbuster

If new techniques endorsed by the World Meteorological Organisation are applied to official figures, over half of the global warming reported by US land-based thermometers between 1979 and 2008 simply disappears, researchers have found. The new study used the same raw temperature measurements as US government federal …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In before "koch funded deniers working for oil industry deny THE SCIENCE and want to eat your babies!".

    1. asdf


      Actually the timing of this study is perfect. It is really important to get out in front of the problem of one of the worst droughts in living memory in the US before crop failure causes food prices to double and people start asking uncomfortable questions. The key is to turn the public's attention towards something else. Nothing to see here move on.

  2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    Data collection in the *field* and data reduction to the latest *international* standards

    This sounds like proper science.

    I'll point out however that just lopping out "low quality" sites would seem to be excessive. They should definitely have a lower weighting. How much lower requires more background knowledge than I have.

    I'll also note that the field work gives *snapshot* picture of the sites. It's hypothetically possible that a sudden spurt of intense new development could have shifted a high quality site downscale in the recent past.

    As always *context* is important.

    Thumbs up for the solid effort. Weather it will be incorporated into the relevant models in this case may be more doubtful.

    1. Captain Save-a-ho

      Re: Data collection in the *field* and data reduction to the latest *international* standards

      I agree with your sentiment, though I now have more doubts about climate science than before. My doubts come not from a presupposition about the validity of AGW or not, but from a true appreciation of just how completely impossible it seems to ever properly account for the circumstances surrounding data collection or to control for the inherent anomalies that are bound to exist.

      If the data can never be trusted, how can the science? Personally, I love science in general and appreciate the rigor that the scientific method and peer review maintain. But this seems like such a fool's errand. Better fun would be had jousting with windmills and dreaming the impossible dream.

    2. Philip Lewis

      Re: Data collection in the *field* and data reduction to the latest *international* standards

      "Weather it will be incorporated into ..."

      I saw what you did there ;)

    3. Robin

      Re: Data collection in the *field* and data reduction to the latest *international* standards

      "Weather it will be..."

      Well played.

    4. Charles Manning

      But there are too many low quality stations

      Even given a small weighting, low quality stations are so numerous that they will still end up distorting the numbers.

      It is unfortunate that there are so few high quality stations with a long history.

      Airports have always recorded temperatures because temperature is an important factor in calculating take off weight. But unfortunately airports change with time.

      SFO started off as a grass runway in an old cow pasture. Now it is a few square miles of concrete and asphalt with air conditioners belting out heat. No useful data in that.

    5. DaWolf

      Re: Data collection in the *field* and data reduction to the latest *international* standards

      context seems to be everything.

      They lop off all the sites they don't like, and end up with a number (notably, at least in this piece, without error bars. So somewhere in the 0.13-0.14 per decade with their picked numbers, purely for the US land)

      What's that? Surprisingly low? Let's check:

      "On 25 November 2010 the UK Meteorological Office in a pre-Cancun press conference stated that it believed the increase in average global surface temperatures has been around 0.16C per decade between 1970 and 2000 but has ranged between 0.05C and 0.13C in the last ten years. The Met Office said that the trend figures for the period between 2000-2009 were based on data from three different source; one from NASA (0.13C), one from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (0.07C) and one from HadCRUT3 (0.05C) - the dataset managed by the Met Office and by the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit"

      So basically, a group of sceptics have looked at the data, and come out with something that still shows climate change, and in a range which is comparable to other studies, albeit non worldwide so it's apples to oranges.

      But if you read the spin on this article, you'd think they'd proved that no warming was happening.

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Robinson
      Thumb Down

      Re: Simple! Just ignore data you don't like

      No. The problem is that the environment does not remain static. You might site a station in a field and 25 years later that station is in the middle of an airport or a large town, and is far hotter. The question is how to adjust the temperature to take this into account?

      Surprisingly people like James Hansen have been doing this for a very long time. They mostly revised up recent temperatures and revised down past temperatures, to exaggerate the trend. What Watts et al has done is show using modern techniques that at least half of the warming trend is spurious.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Simple! Just ignore data you don't like

        You might also read the results of Watts' quite valid experiment regarding the affects of repainting Stephenson Screens (?) with modern paint rather than the former lime based whitewash. You guessed it, the temperatures rise. So every box that has been repainted since the 70's almost certainly exhibits a spurious warming trend.

        I have always maintained the GW thing assumes warming and that the "warming" is very likely not particularly well documented. It seems more and more research confirms this.

        If it's not warming, then CO2 can't be causing what is not happening ... a classic case of looking for the murderer before the body is in evidence.

      2. NomNomNom

        Re: Simple! Just ignore data you don't like

        "They mostly revised up recent temperatures and revised down past temperatures, to exaggerate the trend"

        Claims like this are devoid of evidence.

        The source code for Hansen's algorithm has been available to download for years ( If FORTRAN isn't your thing, someone has even ported it to python (

        Should be easy then to show everyone the part of the code that "revised up recent temperatures and revised down past temperatures, to exaggerate the trend". Yet no-one has ever demonstrated it...

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: Simple! Just ignore that the data you like has been pre-adjusted.

          "Should be easy then to show everyone the part of the code that "revised up recent temperatures and revised down past temperatures, to exaggerate the trend". Yet no-one has ever demonstrated it..."

          It's not Hansen's algorithm that's being investigated in this paper, it's the data that's being fed to the algorithm. If that data has been pre-warmed, as Watts et al appear to show, then it's a simple case of GIGO. GISS's ultra-distance Kridging around the Arctic aside. It's a problem that is also not constrained to the US given poor station siting appears to be a global, man-made phenomena. It may also appear that blind faith in data quality is also a widespread phenomenon within mainstream climate science.

    2. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

      Re: Simple! Just ignore data you don't like

      ...It's fine to try and disentangle your equipment from interference, but surely the whole point of a weather station is to capture the data as it is, and not as it might be wished?..

      Ah. Yes, if you want to determine the actual temperature at a point. For instance, it's important for aeroplanes to know what temperature it really IS at Heathrow.

      But if you want to know what the UNDERLYING temperature of the Earth SHOULD be, so you can see if a little CO2 is increasing it, you need to measure the temperature well away from any extraneous heat sources, like jet exhausts, air conditioners or big black tarmac car parks. Now, no one is going to pay to establish a set of thermometers in carefully controlled rural places ONLY, so we have to make do with the pre-existing local weather station. And aren't we lucky - that used to be a rural station 50 years ago, but now it's conveniently situated at the junction of two motorways. And, surprise, surprise, the average temperature has gone up a lot from 50 years ago.

      Must be the CO2! Grant money, here we come! Closely followed by a lucrative post advising politicians how to tax people....

    3. Evan M. Jones

      Re: Simple! Just ignore data you don't like

      Well, that's exactly what NOAA appears to do with its homogenization process: Identified the cool-running stations (that just so happen to be, on average, well sited) as outliers. And then adjusts their trends warmer.

      What I did was rate the stations by quality -- regardless of their high or low trend -- deliberately concealing the trends from view when doing the ratings, in fact.

      THEN I examined the trend to see if bad siting makes a difference.

      Comprende, comrade?

    4. vidura

      Re: Simple! Just ignore data you don't like

      if the weather station reports a high temperature because of ashpalt or not, is of secondary importance.

      Because the issue is about the change in temperature over time, if they are high at the start of the period because of X environmental factor, they will be high at the end of the period also. The impact of this elevated reading is secondary because its the relative difference which is important here, not the absolute values.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Vidura

        If you have a rural station that ends up as urban then there will be a spurious trend in the data. The relative difference will have changed due to urbanisation.

        If you have an urban station that has an increase in population and/or buildings in the area then the relative difference will have changed due to increasing urbanisation.

        The only way urbanisation is not an issue is if everything remains the same over then entire time period you are measuring.

      2. Dr. Mouse

        Re: Simple! Just ignore data you don't like

        "Because the issue is about the change in temperature over time, if they are high at the start of the period because of X environmental factor, they will be high at the end of the period also."

        And what if environmental factor X wasn't present at the start of the period? For example, the weather station was situated in a field, but then development has occurred and it now sits in the middle of a housing estate?

      3. Evan M. Jones

        Re: Simple! Just ignore data you don't like


        Also, if the environment has NOT changed, is the trend (sic) higher for the poor stations. That is exactly what we are measuring.

        It is.

  4. hfhghg6767

    Great job! Soon the climate hoax will be exposed. =)

    Great job! Soon the climate hoax will be exposed, and then perhaps, we can start to worry about more important things such as our decreasing freedom, political power concentration, jobs for the young, and building thorium reactors for cheap energy.

    1. Fibbles

      Re: Great job! Soon the climate hoax will be exposed. =)

      Climate change isn't a hoax, you'd have to be a fool to think our climate is static. Certain groups are manipulating the data and public opinion for their own gain though. I can't agree more about the thorium reactors, we need to stop messing about and modernise our energy supply.

      1. Alan Esworthy

        Re: Great job! Soon the climate hoax will be exposed. =)

        Climate change isn't a hoax, as climate is indeed changing and it seems always has and will.

        Global warming isn't a hoax, as the world is indeed getting warmer and has been since the end of the last ice age.

        But using "catastrophic anthropogenic climate change" as the basis for crippling the industrial economy of the developed world IS a hoax-based power and money grab that makes all previous such grabs seem puny in comparison.

      2. peter_dtm

        Re: Great job! Soon the climate hoax will be exposed. =)

        @ fibbles 19h18z

        But he didn't say climate CHANGE was a hoax - he said the climate hoax

        Climate has always changed - its been hotter and colder than now; its the Catastrophic Man Made bit that is the hoax

        We now have some access to both the original unadulterated data and also to a new datset that has traceable; repeatable documented changes made to it. Compare that with CRU & co's refusal to divulge either original data or what hocus pocus they got up to with it.

        And as the IPCC will need reminding - empirical measurements trump models ever time. The empirical data (not models) indicates that the null hypothosis (current climate change is with in natural bounds) is valid. No need for fancy complex hypothesis that rely on bad models.

  5. GreggS

    But isn't the fact

    That we are becoming more & more urbanised a reason to include the data from these other weather stations in itself? After all its is "human behaviour" that is causing the temperature rise according to the climate scientists and greenies alike.I bet if you check the Heathrow airport weather station records against the rest of the UK you will find it represents the UK national average temperature pretty well.

    1. Aaron Em
      Thumb Down

      Not likely

      The phrase is "urban heat island", and if you're not familiar with its meaning then you don't have all the information you need to form an opinion.

      The effect on weather station readings is considerably greater than epsilon, too. For example, in the city neighborhood where I live, the temperature is generally three to five degrees hotter than it is in the tree-lined county suburb where I work.

      If you're normalizing to one or the other, you have the choice of revising the city figure downward, or the county figure upward. It may seem as though either choice would be as valid, but areas of urbanization large enough to produce the heat island effect do not make up the majority of land area either in England or in the US -- in both countries, and everywhere else on Earth as well, the area not subject to the effect is orders of magnitude larger than that which is.

      This being the case, Hansen's choice to revise upward figures from non-urbanized areas, rather than reducing figures from temperature stations in built-up areas, or producing a weighted average of the two based on land area, looks awfully questionable -- especially from the fellow who's been leading the charge in favor of the contention that "the science is in".

      1. NomNomNom

        Re: Not likely

        "Hansen's choice to revise upward figures from non-urbanized areas, rather than reducing figures from temperature stations in built-up areas, or producing a weighted average of the two based on land area, looks awfully questionable"

        I think you are completely wrong in your description of Hansen's algorithm.

        See here where it is described, in particular this part:

        "in step 2 they adjust the non-rural stations in such a way that their long-term trend of annual means matches that of the mean of the neighboring rural stations. Records from urban stations without nearby rural staitons are dropped."

        Non-rural stations are adjusted to towards rural stations. When there are no rural stations the non-rural stations are excluded.

        Can you explain where you got the impression that the opposite adjustment was being made?

        1. Aaron Em

          Re: Not likely

          Fair question. I got that impression from the caption of the first chart shown on Page 1 of Mr. Orlowski's article; specifically, "Instead of adjusting the poorly sited station trends downward to the levels of the well located stations, the well sited station trends are adjusted upward to match the poor station trends." This is the direct converse of the normalization algorithm described in the GISTEMP overview you cite.

          That said, I was under the impression that that entire image came directly from NOAA, and on review I gather that's only true of the map itself; it appears that Mr. Orlowski, or someone else in the bowels of El Reg, added that caption. This being the case, I now find myself wondering who, if anyone, is misrepresenting what, from whom.

          On a closer reading, I find that the paper under discussion appears to contend nothing about Hansen's algorithm, but rather that the data to which that algorithm is applied are of lower quality, due to inclusion of data from poorly sited stations, than those derived specifically from stations meeting the WMO standards for good placement. I appreciate you pointing out that my understanding of the discussion was erroneous.

          I am still curious what might be the story with regard to that caption I mentioned, but I suspect the problem here is not that there's anything incorrect or misleading in the article, so much as that I should probably not expect, over the course of a couple of five-minute breaks from what I've been working on all day, to gain a solid understanding of a complex discussion like this one.

          1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

            Re: Re: Not likely

            "That said, I was under the impression that that entire image came directly from NOAA"

            The heat maps come from NOAA, the in-graphic comment is from Watts - as the caption says.


            1. Aaron Em

              Re: Not likely

              Whoops. Thanks again -- that'll learn me to try to read and comment in five-minute bites of time, or should do, anyway.

            2. Evan M. Jones

              Re: Not likely

              Actually, I made the maps.

              And rated all the stations.

              And calculated the numbers in each region on the map.

              And gridded the data.

              (And wrote the comment in question, for that matter.)

              NOAA has no idea what the trends are for Class 1\2 vs. Class 3\4\5 using Leroy (2010) methodology. They never bothered to find out.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Not likely

                "Actually, I made the maps"

                and so I see you did - well done and thank you Sir :-)

          2. NomNomNom

            Re: Not likely

            Ah ok its just a slight mixup then. Hansen is GISTEMP which is NASA. Hansen/GISTEMP is a different record than NOAA.

            On the the otherhand I don't agree with the caption in the figure one of the article you have highlighted. It makes it sound like NOAA has deliberately adjusted well located stations in the wrong direction toward poorly sited stations. Unless NOAA had access to time travel they couldn't have known which stations this paper would classify as well located and poorly sited in order to do that.

            Of course the claim could be that NOAA inadvertently adjusted incorrectly, but my impression is that isn't the angle the article is intending to portray.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: But isn't the fact

      One of the problems with the surface temperature record is that oftentimes weather stations started up on rural grass aerodromes which then became concrete airfields surrounded by urban sprawl - e.g. what is now Heathrow was originally the "Great West Aerodrome" in the 1930s. Add to that the effect of e.g. air conditioning plant being put right next to the weather station and you can start to see why the recorded temperature might rise a lot more than what you'd see if the location stayed as it was, or moved a few fields away. Have a look at the site and you'll see what I mean. So I'd expect a station at Heathrow to have shown greater warming than a similar site that wasn't subject to similar growth (but this is an informed guess, I haven't checked - do post the findings if you do so).

      The Watts et. al. paper highlights how, in the USA at least, the process used to process the raw station data actually makes the warming look about twice what it actually is. The official adjusted data actually shows greater warming than the worst stations show before the adjustment. So Heathrow could even reflect the "average" - but the average might well not reflect the reality. The paper is definitely worth a read, certainly of the power point summary at least.

      Incidentally, for a UK temperature record, have a look at the Central England temperature record on the UEA site. It basically shows two periods of warming in the last century with a bit of cooling in the middle. I've yet to see a convincing explanation of why the first period is different from the second, although it was before we started doing major "carbon" emissions.

    3. Evan M. Jones

      Re: But isn't the fact [Facts and Factors]

      But the factors affecting the stations are NOT representative of the topography the stations purport to represent.

      10% of the stations we rated are urban and 25% semi-urban. That is an over-representation approaching 500%. And 6% of rated stations are ASOS (i.e., bad equipment) in airports. Rounded to the nearest percentage point, zero % of land surface is airport environment.

      So, bad mesosite (regardless of microsite, i.e., Class 1 - 5 ratings) dominates fully 40% of the USHCN surface record.

    4. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. GreggS

        Re: But isn't the fact

        I agree, but my point was that mankind(or womankind) is increasing its footprint and isn't the point of this after all how it affects mankind(or womankind)? If the majority of mankind(or womankind) live in Urban areas and those urban areas are showing an increase in heat, then it's a self fulfilling propechy that mankind(or womankind) is indeed warming the Earth.

    5. Hawknic

      Re: But isn't the fact

      Not the point. The issue is stability of the readings over time, not how representative they are today. It could be that LHR weather is a good average for the UK (I have no idea), but when trying to see very slow trends it is important that everything except the measurement remains as constant as possible, or at least changes in surroundings, equipment etc. are also recorded and corrected for - some corrections will be done by regular calibration, others can't be calibrated out.

      Regular updating of the metadata may make the low quality data usable over time, resulting in better results from a wider base.

      Doh because this should have been started years ago, measuring a small number of variables when analysing a complex system is not good science.

  6. Aaron Em

    Still warming, but less so

    Looks like the warming trend with the more accurate weather station data still shows an increase, but only about half what's been claimed.

    Which is fair enough, but one does feel moved to wonder, considering that "the science" is supposedly "in", why it takes an independent analyst to point out what we're looking at here, rather than us hearing it from the official organs tasked with telling governments what to do about climate change. The figures appear to be pretty unambiguous, and the data we're looking at here does appear to support the contention that the climate is changing (though anthropogenicity remains still very questionable), so why haven't we heard about this before now?

    1. Steve Crook

      Re: Still warming, but less so

      Well, there's been little official help for Watts and the volunteers of Indeed, I recall that, when Watts originally announced the project in 2007 (yes, really, this isn't a recent thing) the station database was removed from public access within a couple of weeks, and Watts had to resort to legal action to regain access.

      The trouble is that the 'establishment' don't want this made public because it will dilute the message and the fact that it comes from Watts, the denier-in-chief adds insult to injury. I expect that the 'official' response will be that, yes there are problems with some stations in the USA, but:

      1. It's only in the USA and there are plenty of others worldwide.

      2. We're in the process of fixing those in the USA

      3. We've carefully calculated adjustments to account for station location. The procedures used by the independent BEST team confirm their accuracy.

      4. Other peer reviewed papers have shown that UHI is negligible and can be ignored.

      5. There's plenty of other peer reviewed evidence that AGW is a real and present danger.

    2. Evan M. Jones

      Re: Still warming, but less so

      "but only about half what's been claimed"

      Half using all Class 1\2 stations.

      If you use rural stations excluding airports, the number is nearly three times smaller (+0.108 per decade).

      Bear in mind that the study period is 1979 to 2008, so in 29 out of 30 years of the study the PDO was in positive (i.e., naturally warming) mode. Considering our findings, there is some small amount of wiggle room for AGW during this period, not not much, really.

  7. Captain DaFt

    Quoting George Carlin

    "The temperature at the airport is 87 degrees. That's stupid, I don't know anyone that lives at the airport! Downtown is much hotter! This just in... Downtown's on fire, man!" - Your hippy-dippy weatherman

    1. Evan M. Jones

      Re: Quoting George Carlin

      Yes, the absolute temperatures are cooler in airports. But the temperature TRENDS (sic) in downtown urban and airports are much the same (i.e., each is exaggerated by c. 0.1 C per decade).

  8. BigFire

    Keeping thermometer next to the incinerator

    DOES increase the temperature, who would've guess?

    1. Evan M. Jones

      Re: Keeping thermometer next to the incinerator

      Well, to be fair, the question is whether it increases the TREND.

      And that was anyone's guess.

  9. albaleo

    If the findings of the Watts paper are found to be correct, I think this is of great significance. I'm not a big fan of WUWT, but I read this paper, and it makes its case clearly. I've seen his contributions dismissed in the past because he is a "mere weatherman". In this case, as the topic is weather measurement, he can't be dismissed that easily.

  10. Katie Saucey

    From what I gather, the authors of the study are suggesting that temp data taken from locations near a ton of concrete/asphalt etc, are skewed upward. Fair enough, but it would be nice if the .pdf had actually included the method of calculation in an appendix. Things like heat transfer equations, constants used (such as assumptions on wind affecting convection rates, thermal capacities etc). I notice these things are all nicely referenced, but as usual us average people need to take a trip to the nearest university library to check those references. I'm curious just not that curious. I realize this is just the "pre-publication" draft, but if these guys went the extra mile to dump everything in their "big-ass climate study" folder out in the open, it would do wonders (in my opinion at least) for the quality/credibility of the work.

    1. Alan Esworthy


      KS, I haven't had time to read the .pdf paper yet, but the press release does include this reference to Leroy's updated rating method:

      Leroy, M., 2010: Siting Classification for Surface Observing Stations on Land, Climate, and Upper-air Observations JMA/WMO Workshop on Quality Management in Surface, Tokyo, Japan 27-30 July 2010

    2. Aaron Em

      Not accurate

      The authors of this study aren't suggesting that; that's the urban heat island effect, which isn't at all controversial at this point -- it can be seen in unadjusted modern weather station data. The study under discussion here contends that Hansen used measurements from within urban heat islands, which are well known to be higher than measurements taken elsewhere, as the baseline for normalizing weather station temperature data in general; the contention here is further that, urban heat islands being a very small percentage of Earth's land area, to use them as a baseline for normalization produces a warming trend that's skewed upward by a factor of two in comparison with the result from a normalization weighted for the enormous difference in land area between urban heat islands and everywhere else.

      1. Katie Saucey

        Re: Not accurate

        Thanks for the correction, I should have said "..skewing the overall data trend upward.."

        1. Evan M. Jones

          Re: Not accurate


      2. Evan M. Jones

        Re: Not accurate

        It is not in question that cities are warmer.

        The question is whether they warm FASTER. They do. They warm 0.1 C/decade faster than rural stations.

        Ironically, microsite quality in cities is quite similar to that of rural and semi-urban areas.

    3. Evan M. Jones

      Leroy (2010) methodology is indeed included. It is in one of the links accompanying the paper.

      It is also carefully explained in the PowerPoint sheet.

      And we are not measuring temperatures. We are measuring temperature TRENDS only. I cannot emphasize this strongly enough.

      Anthony cites a number of papers examining heat transfer, etc., in the paper itself.

      What we do is rate the stations for heat source/sink proximity are area coverage using Leroy (2010) methodology. The paper is not trying to find out WHY there are differences. The paper is trying to determine IF there are differences and how great those differences are.

  11. csmac3144

    None of this will matter to the True Believers. They simply ignore, dismiss or slander anything that contradicts the Narrative. The whole matter as long stopped being about science at all. (If it was about science, the True Believers would dispassionately attempt to replicate these findings, not slander the researchers).

    1. Chris 3

      True Believers

      ... you're talking about those who truly believe there is no climate change, I presume.

      1. P. Lee

        Re: True Believers

        The real problem is that weather stations measure the local temperature which turns out to NOT be useful for measuring climate change. As we are constantly told, weather!=climate

        The data is fine. It just appears to be inappropriate for what we want to use it for.

        If you have to skew the numbers, you can, but you have then interpreted the meaning of the data rather than using the data.

        Of course, you could say that if the temperature has gone up due to human activity, then we have warmed it - even if its just by putting tarmac underneath. The problem comes when you then extrapolate that data to imply that the man-made rises will be reflected all over the globe. Again, the data is fine, its the averaging and interpretation which may be suspect.

  12. Fibbles

    You know what I love about these articles?

    That the article itself had 30+ votes before it had a single comment. The comments are always by commentards you never recognise (Aaron Em and Gregg S being the only people I know so far). When you check the commentards' post history you can see that they only ever comment on climate articles...

    Is there a mailing list somewhere that flags up these articles so the ecotards and climate sceptics can come do battle?

    1. Aaron Em

      Re: You know what I love about these articles?

      Hi there! Just want to point out that anyone with a few minutes can take a look at my posting history and see that I comment on lots of things besides just climate articles.

      Granted, I have recently come to be quite reactionary in my politics, and I consider the progressive experiment to be a wildly idealistic and extremely dangerous process of utopian social engineering, and that is pretty obvious from the comments I've made on the Reg in the past. No doubt there are plenty of people who would prefer either that I felt otherwise, or simply that I just shut up and go away -- certainly I get enough downvotes to make that obvious! But anyone who's got the idea that I'm some kind of shill, whether professional or amateur, for Big Oil, or whatever one has written on one's tinfoil beanie with regard to "deniers", is more than welcome to take a look for himself and see that that's not the case.

    2. Aaron Em

      Re: You know what I love about these articles?

      ...and it's also worth pointing out that comments on this article all go into moderation, regardless of whether their authors are ordinarily allowed to bypass the moderation queue. That being the case, at the time you saw the article vote count and the empty comment thread, there probably were several comments awaiting attention from the nannies of El Reg's commentard nursery.

      1. Fibbles

        Re: You know what I love about these articles?

        I was trying to say I'd recognised you as a regular on these forums Aaron, not just somebody who comes to copy and paste pre-approved dogmatically correct arguments for or against whatever piece of climate science Andrew* is writing about this week. Go have a look at the posting history of some other people in this thread if you have time. It'd be funny if it wasn't so sad.

        *Surprised me when I checked, I could have sworn this was an article by Lewis...

  13. Eddy Ito

    That answers that

    It seems pretty clear, the observed rises in temperature are man made. Well, at least until someone finds a large natural surface asphalt formation. Oh, asphalt has carbon in it. QED!

    1. Hig Hurtenflurst

      Re: That answers that

      Very brief research....

  14. Phil Bennett

    Seems like good science

    Hopefully will be followed up and replicated.

    What I don't understand if people saying things like "Soon the climate hoax will be exposed", or "None of this will matter to the True Believers" - they're still showing warming effects.

    The big problem with global warming is that it is inherently slow - you don't walk out of the door one morning and find that the trees are on fire, you get get steadily nastier weather, which you get used to a little at a time, and doing anything about it is incredibly difficult and depending how you go about it, extremely disruptive.

    We need a bit more science like this to understand exactly where we stand, and a lot more science directed at reducing emissions, finding alternate energy sources (e.g. thorium reactors, fusion, big tidal and solar projects) and increasing efficiency. There is something badly wrong with a society that takes 20 years to approve spending €5 billion (albeit now approaching €16billion) across the entire world for ITER, and yet finds £12 billion from the UK alone for a couple of weeks of running around in lycra.

    1. The Axe

      Re: Seems like good science

      The point is that those labelled as "deniers" by the "true believers" do not disagree about a rise in temperatures. What they disagree with is that the rise is man made and that is catasrophic.

      When you look at the long term (thousands of years) then you see that the Earth has had a wide range of temperatures. What we are currently experiencing is just the normal variability in Earth's climate.

      1. NomNomNom

        Re: Seems like good science

        "The point is that those labelled as "deniers" by the "true believers" do not disagree about a rise in temperatures."

        You'd be surprised at how often climate skeptics do disagree about global warming. For example the Anthony Watts who is subject of this article authored a report in 2010 which contained a "Summary For Policymakers" section. The first point in that summary was:

        "Instrumental temperature data for the pre-satellite era (1850-1980) have been so widely, systematically, and uni-directionally tampered with that it cannot be credibly asserted there has been any significant “global warming” in the 20th century."

        When every scientist regards 20th century warming as a fact, that certainly does constitute a disagreement with the science. A jaw dropping disagreement IMO.

        1. peter_dtm

          Re: Seems like good science

          @NomNomNom 22h04z

          Instrumental temperature data for the pre-satellite era (1850-1980) have been so widely, systematically, and uni-directionally tampered with that it cannot be credibly asserted there has been any significant “global warming” in the 20th century.

          1) widely, systematically, and uni-directionally tampered with = all the 'modifications' to the data were made such that global warming was exaggerated.

          2) any significant “global warming” in the 20th century = this is a science/statistical term which means that any increase in temperature is irrelevant compared to the normal range of change over the 20th century

          3) it cannot be credibly asserted = contrary to the current CAGW meme; the science is NOT settled; and it is extremely unlikely that anything man is doing has any SIGNIFICANT affect on the global climate.

          So the science is not settled; CAGW probably is falsified as a hypothesis; the effect of man's production of CO2 on the climate looks as though it is NOT significant in any meaningful way.

          So : we do not need to apply the precautionary principle and wreck the 1st world's industrial lifeblood over some unproven theory; which; it would be cheaper any way; to merely mitigate when(IF) it ever causes a problem. Have you worked out yet what an 80% cut in CO2 emissions really means to YOUR (and think of your poor kids) lifestyle (assuming you live in the UK & support the goals of the Climate Change Act)?

        2. Graham Dawson Silver badge

          Re: Seems like good science

          No, it constitutes disagreement with the scientists, disagreement with the claims regarding the quality of the evidence and disagreement with the currently favoured hypothesis. Believe it or not, that is science.

        3. Evan M. Jones

          Re: Seems like good science

          Anthony and I are both "Lukewarmers".

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          You quote Watts as saying:

          "Instrumental temperature data for the pre-satellite era (1850-1980) have been so widely, systematically, and uni-directionally tampered with that it cannot be credibly asserted there has been any significant “global warming” in the 20th century."

          You do understand the terms credibly and significant don't you?

          If the warming is within natural variation then it is not significant.

          If your temperature measurements show a significant trend but your measurements are full or errors then you can not credibly claim a significant trend. (As an example, a trend of 0.1 with a measurement errors >1.0).

  15. fero

    Unfortunately the lead author (Anthony Watts) is funded by the Heartland Institute so he is not a neutral researcher. His draft paper (not peer reviewed) has already had a lot of the theories rebutted by other researchers.

    To quote Wikipedia:

    The Heartland Institute is an American conservative and libertarian public policy think tank based in Chicago, which advocates free market policies. The Institute is designated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit by the Internal Revenue Service and has a full-time staff of 40, including editors and senior fellows. The Institute was founded in 1984 and conducts research and advocacy work on issues including government spending, taxation, healthcare, tobacco policy, hydraulic fracturing, global warming, information technology, and free-market environmentalism.

    In the 1990s, the group worked with the tobacco company Philip Morris to question the science linking secondhand smoke to health risks, and to lobby against government public-health reforms. More recently, the Institute has focused on questioning the science of climate change, and was described by the New York Times as "the primary American organization pushing climate change skepticism." The Institute has sponsored meetings of climate change skeptics, and has been reported to promote public school curricula challenging the scientific consensus on climate change.

    1. SkippyBing

      Yeah, whereas all the research funded by Greenpeace et. al is neutral as fuck.

      1. lotus49

        It's just as well for Greenpeace that it is a multi-trillion dollar organisation that can afford to support University research departments around the world then isn't it?

        Er, hang on...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          "It's just as well for Greenpeace that it is a multi-trillion dollar organisation..."

          The heartland institute has an annual income of about $6.5million and only operates in the USA.

          Greenpeace operates in Argentina, Australia, Pacific, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Mainland, Cyprus, Czech, Republic, Denmark, DR, Congo, East, Asia, European, Unit, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong, Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, International, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Malta, Mediterranean, Mexico, Netherlands, New, Zealand, Norway, Pacific, Papua, New, Guinea, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Senegal, Slovakia, South, Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, UK and the USA. Greenpeace raises money in each country it operates in. I don't have the figures for every country, but in the UK it raised £2.7million ($4.2million) in 2010.

          Greenpeace is a multi-national multi-million dollar organisation with many times the resources of the Heartland institute.

          If you prefer that other multinational then the WWF's annual UK only income is £58million ($90 million)

    2. Alan Esworthy
      Thumb Down

      money incentives

      fero - Yes, Watts does get an occasional deal that pays but it doesn't pay much. Do your homework.

      While you're at it, take a look at how much money flows into govt- and NGO-supported efforts involving climate change, and be aware of the perverse motivation involved. If you are a researcher, you get money to identify problems. You get money to study problems. You get money if you say more research is needed on problems. If you solve the problem the money stops. Get the picture? To criticize one side you need to criticize the other if you are to be honest about the way the money flows.

    3. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

      Does Fero know what he's talking about?

      ...Unfortunately the lead author (Anthony Watts) is funded by the Heartland Institute so he is not a neutral researcher. His draft paper (not peer reviewed) has already had a lot of the theories rebutted by other researchers....

      Umm? What does this mean?

      This research is NOT funded by Heartland (and it wouldn't matter if it was)

      The paper is not reviewed yet BECAUSE it is a draft - that's what that MEANS.

      "...had a lot of theories rebutted by other researchers.." is apparently English, but means nothing that I can understand. If you are trying to say that the paper has been rebutted, then give us a reference. That would be very fast work - it only came out yesterday, and, as far as I can see, uses perfectly acceptable maths....

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @ferro -- Wiki - FFS

      You are perhaps unaware that a single individual is repsonsible for the "position" of Wiki on all matters climate related. Wiki is widely regarded as a completely unreliable resource when discussing these matters.

      There is plenty of real science to be found, it is not to be found on Wiki, as Wiki's integrity has been severely compromised and this fact is very well documented.

    5. Evan M. Jones


      This study has been conducted with no funding whatsoever. None. Zip.

      None of the volunteers received a thin dime. Not even a puff of secondhand Heartland smoke.

      Anthony's proposed funding is to provide a site that provides hard-to-access NOAA/NCDC data in clear, easy to absorb form. Nothing whatever more than that.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @The Axe

      "Heartland gave Watts $40k. How much does the state give to climate scientists? "

      Or to put it another way Heartland gave Watts more than the annual salary of a postdoctoral researcher in climate.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @The Axe

        40K - wow, no wonder the science is so poor.

  16. NomNomNom

    My Criticism

    I could be wrong but I think there is a severe logic error in the Watts paper.

    Lets review where the numbers come from The cited NOAA warming trend for the US of 0.308C/decade is taken after a number of NOAA adjustments to station data. They don't just adjust for station quality, they also adjust for instrument issues. In particular NOAA makes an adjustment for something called Time of Observation Bias (TOB), to adjust for the fact that over decades the time of day at which measurements have been taken at stations has shifted (summarized here:

    In contrast the 0.155°C/decade figure given by the Watts paper for the highest quality stations is for the raw data of those particular stations, no adjustments applied. At least that's how the paper reads. I don't see any evidence from the paper that the 0.155C/decade figure includes TOB adjustment. In fact the description of this figure as "raw" suggests it doesn't.

    Yet these two figures, 0.155C/decade and 0.308C/decade are compared anyway (both by the paper and this article) to conclude that the NOAA figure is two times too high due to bad station siting adjustments. But if what I've gleaned above is correct then such a conclusion is faulty as the comparison is apples and oranges and can't be made.

    To summarize my criticism this is the situation:

    0.308C/decade (NOAA) = raw data + "NOAA siting adjustment" + TOB adjustment + (other adjustments)

    0.155C/decade = raw data of good quality stations + no adjustments

    From this it's clear you can't conclude the difference between the 0.308C/decade and 0.155C/decade figures is due to bad station siting adjustments by NOAA. It could be that the is due to TOB or other adjustments.

    What you need to make the comparison is this:

    ????/decade = raw data + "NOAA siting adjustment"

    Ie you need to remove all the adjustments bar the siting one. Then you can compare that to the 0.155C/decade trend from good quality stations, not before. You might find they then match.

    Another problem with the paper I'll mention in passing is a lack of error bars on the trend estimates.

    1. therussian

      Re: My Criticism

      I have read some another criticism of the paper here:

      It does seem to indicate the paper is biased to present a reduced warming effect.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: My Criticism

      Sorry, it's late here so I might be missing something - I can't see a value for TOB in your post. What do you make the numerical value of the missing TOB correction? Just so we can judge whether it's a significant error.

    3. NomNomNom

      Re: My Criticism

      I apologize for using terms like "Lets review where the numbers come from" and "if what I've gleaned" as if I was some kind of celestial guru/pretentious git, I was just in an numbers-in-my-head-im-talking to-myself-to-stay-focused mood. but the main reason for posting another comment here is I didn't emphasize enough that my criticism could be entirely wrong, it should be titled "potential criticism" really

    4. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

      Re: My Criticism

      Umm. You've obviously spent a fair amount of time keying in your criticism. But the point you make is completely covered in the paper under Section 2 - Data. Issues such as error correction and pre-processing, including TOB bias correction, are covered almost immediately, in Sect. 2.1. The issue is sorted.

      Why would you spend time typing in a mistaken criticism, rather than glance at the paper to see if it is covered first? To help you in future, that paper is here:

    5. Oxomino

      Re: My Criticism

      I would love to hear the explanation for the adjustments which --always-- result in a temperature far in excess (as in, doubled) of the good quality stations.

    6. peter_dtm

      Re: My Criticism

      Apart from corrections for UHI - why do the data from good quality stations need adjusting ?

      If you do not have good quality sites (next to an air con output - or next to a runway in a tarmac wasteland where there used to be grass...) then

      a) why would you use it ?

      b) if you do use it; wouldn't you have to correct for the effects of the bad sitting ?

      Strange how all of CRU & GISS adjustments almost invariably tend to make it appear that the expected increase in temperatures since the little ice age are catastrophically increasing - few -- very few - were adjusted to show cooling or neutral. Statistically that is more than a little odd; it is most unsettling !

      1. NomNomNom

        Re: My Criticism

        "Apart from corrections for UHI - why do the data from good quality stations need adjusting ?"

        Well for example if the person monitoring the station switched behaviour and started taking readings at 10pm instead of midnight. There's an error irrespective of station quality is in that case.

        Another example would be instrument errors. The station quality metrics are about station placement. An flawed instrument at a good quality sited station can still result in an error.

    7. Evan M. Jones

      Re: My Criticism

      Fair comment.

      But one will make note from the PowerPoint presentation that good and bad stations are adjusted to almost the identical level. Logically, that indicates it is a result of homogenization, not TOBS.

      FWIW, we will be addressing TOBS. But USHCN TOBS adjustment is only a little over 0.1 C per Century (sic). That will have little effect on out findings. Or so we expect. (And we will be checking it out either in the final presentation of this paper or in a followup.)

      1. NomNomNom

        Re: My Criticism

        "But one will make note from the PowerPoint presentation that good and bad stations are adjusted to almost the identical level. Logically, that indicates it is a result of homogenization, not TOBS."

        Homogenization is supposed to adjust stations to the same level. The contention is whether that level is too high. But to know that we'd have to know what the TOBS adjustment is in order to compare like with like.

        "But USHCN TOBS adjustment is only a little over 0.1 C per Century"

        From the graph USHCN TOBS I recollect most of the adjustment is in the latter half of the 20th century. In which case the trend since 1979 would be a lot higher than 0.1C/century.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If only....

    we could study the data objectively and quit turning it into a constant slanging match between "true believers" and skeptics.

    It is clear that climate change is a natural phenomenon. It has been since the birth of the planet. What is less clear is how much of this climate change is anthropogenic. In the greater scheme of things, the data set is still pretty small. Primitive man and his campfires did not induce ice ages or kill the dinosaurs. But this is where good science can help.

    Personally, I feel that any policies which encourage the sensible use of natural resources, less reliance on petroleum, and a proper balance between urbanization, agriculture and the natural preserve are what we should be striving for regardless. But the decisions needed to reach this balance must be based on factual peer-reviewed research not lobbying propoganda and policy-wonk hysterics. I don't need an apparatchik to tell me that burning coal is bad for the planet, anyone who has lived near a coal plant or a strip mine can figure that out. The fact that burning coal may also be warming the planet a bit more than normal is practically incidental once compared to its actual short and mid-term impact. Solution? How about replacing coal with another source of energy generation? Why not start here, instead of arguing about which weather stations are telling the true story? Whatever happened to common sense? Measuring climate change is notoriously difficult and humans have only been doing it for a few hundred years. It will take TIME to work out all of the kinks in our methodology for a study subject that is billions of years old. Until we do, let's work toward cleaner, renewable energy (which makes sense on it own merits) and quit cloaking good ideas under a carbon-soaked AGW banner and its assorted nonsense.

    1. conan

      Re: If only....

      I agree, good comment. I don't know whether climate change is caused by me, or whether it's changing enough to be bad. I do know that I don't like cars because they hit me and smell bad when I'm on my bike; I don't like smokestacks because they don't look very nice and are probably horrible to live near; I don't like planes because they're noisy and the food is rubbish. But I also like to go visit my friends in other cities, and play power-hungry computer games, and go to far-away countries on my holidays. I already have a good enough reason to want all the climate change-related problems to be solved in better ways, so it doesn't really matter to me whether or not the "Deniers" or "True Believers" are more correct.

  18. Hubert Thrunge Jr.

    Just a snapshot - re-focussed

    This information is nothing more than a re-focussed snapshot on this planets recent history. For much better information on what Mother Earth has been doing for about 400,000years, look at the ice core data.

    You can clearly see that mankind has been buggering up the planet's ecosystem for hundreds of thousands of years (not!).

    It's all natural and cyclic. Live with it.And while you're at it governments, stop imposing "green" taxes on us because it's NOT our fault. It is caused by a number of factors all of which are far beyond our control. All of this taxation and "carbon footprint" crap is like King Canute sitting on the beach commanding the tide to go back out!

  19. paulc

    Cooling trend set in in the RSS satellite data plot

    Post 2003, the trend is now cooling... a few more years and it will be unmissable.

  20. Jim Birch

    Good Stories != Science

    Oh dear. So a revision of the methodology for analysis US temperature records disproves AGW (once again.)

    Sorry science kiddies, complexity hurt your heads, doesn't it? The analysis of temperature records is complicated and the technology and methods improve over time. Expect more improvements in future which may push different data sets up or down. The heat island effect is particularly nasty because the artefact is typically larger than the signal and the raw US record is clearly increasing at an anomalously high rate. This ain't news. This is why climatologists use a range of temperature records, satellite measurements and a variety of proxies to estimate the global temperature, not a single localised geographical data set like US airports.

  21. scarshapedstar


    So you're telling me that every single weather station in every state in the US is miscalibrated? Because if you look at the map of heat records set this summer, it's pretty much every single county. Also, worst corn crop since the Dust Bowl, but that must be because they're growing it on asphalt. Silly farmers...

    1. pixl97

      Re: Erm

      --So you're telling me that every single weather station in every state in the US is miscalibrated?

      Yes, possibly.

      Miscalibrated for the use in question. They are most definitely taking the temperature of the environment around them, but until recently it was not realized how important that the change of the landscape around them would be when making calculations in the future.

      Change the thermometer to a new type and the result changes.

      Change the time you take readings and the end result changes.

      Change the makeup of the box that holds the thermometer and the result changes.

      Change the vegetation around the station and the result changes.

      Put houses around the station and the result changes.

      Put air conditioners around the station and the result changes.

      Put highways, tarmac, and parking lots around the station and the result changes.

      Shutdown a large number of rural stations and leave the urban stations and it skews averaged results.

      The high temps of the dust bowl occurred when there was almost no large urban areas and no AGW.

      That's what this paper is addressing. Not the current temperature outside.

      The US South and Mid West also have some terrible climate swings over longer times that have dramatic effects on crops and populations.

  22. Latimer Alder

    Watts' work raises bad headaches for the climatology establishment

    Seems to me that Watts et all have shown up what may be a huge problem in the whole methodology of climatology. If the basic underlying data cannot be trusted, then all the castles in the air of theory and models and catastrophes and sensitivity and the whole shooting match are in severe doubt too. Thirty years of work will be in jeopardy.

    And whether or not others can find detailed holes in their paper or their method or their motivations or their grammar or their politics, they have still shown that the data is unreliable. That charge will not go away by suggesting that they didn't follow scientific protocol or are Republicans or funded by donations rather than government grants. Or that they are Bad People who Eat Babies and want to destroy the planet by next Tuesday fortnight round the polar bear barbecue. Or whatever irrelevant nonsense the establishment come up with.

    If I were the NOAA, I'd be working pretty darned hard to get out an equally serious paper to show where Watts is wrong (if he is). Just hurling abuse at him and his team does not show an adult response...but that of the playground.

    And if he is shown to be right and the warming is only half of that previously reported, I think I can guarantee that the public will be willing to spend only half as much on climatology as before. That will have severe implications for the climatology establishment...who have no other substantial sources of funding. Bad times ahead for them!

    1. NomNomNom

      Re: Watts' work raises bad headaches for the climatology establishment

      "And whether or not others can find detailed holes in their paper ... they have still shown that the data is unreliable"


  23. Anonymous Coward

    The optomist fell ten stories,

    At each window bar, He shouted to his friends, “All right so far.”


    We are taking energy that has been lain down over millions of years and liberating it in the course of a few hundred, then we expect to be able to see obvious pre selected effects in tens of years.

    If there are no "headline worthy" differences in that narrow measurement type and time frame we say "There! no change!! lets just carry on".


  24. echidna1

    You don't have to rely on weather stations. There's plenty of other evidence to show us the Earth is warming. Unfortunately, not every temperature monitoring station in the U.S. is located in the best place. Some stations are located too close to paved surfaces, buildings or other artificial sources of heat. So it’s reasonable to ask: Can U.S. thermometers that show “warming” be trusted? Yes, it turns out. Sites in ideal and less-than ideal locations report nearly identical trends. The lesson here? You can’t tell how good a thermometer is just by looking at it. You have to actually examine the data it collects in the context of a larger network of stations. And monitoring stations and temperature records aside, there are many other ways we can tell the planet is warming. Glaciers are melting, Arctic sea ice is declining, and the oceans are warming up. Multiple lines of evidence show us that climate change is happening and humans are the cause.

    1. hplasm

      Are you

      the Messiah?

  25. James Pickett

    "asphalt at airports means temperatures may be artificially inflated"

    Jet exhaust may also have some bearing on them...

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