NOAA Whistleblower Claims Global Warming Data Improperly ‘Adjusted’

Climatology, Not The Planet, Is Running A Fever

By William M Briggs Published on February 6, 2017

A scientist-whistleblower has accused the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of diddling with temperature data, adjusting it so that it better accorded with political desires.

The Daily Mail is reporting that Dr John Bates, a now-retired climate data expert, late of the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI), a branch of NOAA, claimed the agency “breached its own rules on scientific integrity when it published the sensational but flawed report, aimed at making the maximum possible impact on world leaders including Barack Obama and David Cameron at the UN climate conference in Paris in 2015.”

Bates said that Thomas Karl, who was until recently the director of NCEI, was “insisting on decisions and scientific choices that maximised warming and minimised documentation … in an effort to discredit the notion of a global warming pause, rushed so that he could time publication to influence national and international deliberations on climate policy” (ellipsis original).

The data, Bates claimed, was never “subjected to NOAA’s rigorous internal evaluation process.” When Bates complained, “His vehement objections to the publication of the faulty data were overridden by his NOAA superiors in what he describes as a ‘blatant attempt to intensify the impact’ of what became known as the Pausebuster paper.”

Karl and eight others authored the “Pausebuster” paper, “Possible artifacts of data biases in the recent global surface warming hiatus.” It reported “an updated global surface temperature analysis that reveals that global trends are higher than those reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, especially in recent decades” and which claimed “These results do not support the notion of a ‘slowdown’ in the increase of global surface temperature.”

Data Science,Climate and satellites Consultant John J Bates at his home in Arden North Carolina Picture Chris Bott

Climate data expert John Bates (Picture by Chris Bott)

The “slowdown,” or rather the non-increase in global temperatures for almost two decades, was notable in satellite data. It was also noticed in surface-based data, until that data was statistically adjusted by Karl and others. These adjustments of surface records, which are not uncommon, are also curious. It usually happens that older data are lowered, and recent data pushed higher, making it appear that temperatures are increasing. Are these adjustments legitimate, or the result of confirmation bias, or potentially fraudulent?

How dramatic are the adjustments? As the Daily Mail reports, “The Pausebuster paper said while the rate of global warming from 1950 to 1999 was 0.113C per decade, the rate from 2000 to 2014 was actually higher, at 0.116C per decade.”

This is three-thousandths of a degree higher. Three-thousandths. To appreciate the magnitude, it helps to say it aloud: three-thousandths of a degree. And not just three-thousandths of a degree, but three-thousandths of a degree per every ten years. If panic at the news of higher temperatures was your first reaction, ensure it is panic in slow motion.

The global rate is the product of land and sea measurements. On the sea adjustments, “Thomas Karl and his colleagues … tripled the warming trend over the sea during the years 2000 to 2014 from just 0.036C per decade — as stated in version 3 — to 0.099C per decade.”

Even assuming this correction is valid, the final result is only a tenth of a degree a decade. If the global sea temperature really is caused to act like a straight upwards line, which is physically extremely doubtful, then after ten years, the temperature at sea will be one-tenth of a degree (on average) warmer than previously thought. Make that panic super-slow motion.

But even then, it’s not likely the correction is right.

But Dr. Bates said this increase in temperatures was achieved by dubious means. Its key error was an upwards ‘adjustment’ of readings from fixed and floating buoys, which are generally reliable, to bring them into line with readings from a much more doubtful source — water taken in by ships. This, Dr. Bates explained, has long been known to be questionable: ships are themselves sources of heat, readings will vary from ship to ship, and the depth of water intake will vary according to how heavily a ship is laden — so affecting temperature readings.

Bates said, “They had good data from buoys. And they threw it out and ‘corrected’ it by using the bad data from ships.”

Similar statistical manipulations were done to land-temperature data, with adjustments being of the same low level. Bates not only questioned the timing and direction of adjustments, but said the programs used to make them were “highly experimental” and “afflicted by serious bugs.”

Karl “admitted” to the Daily Mail that “the data had not been archived when the paper was published,” making replication by colleagues impossible or difficult. Karl also said “the final, approved and ‘operational’ edition of the [data] would be ‘different’ from that used in the paper’.”

Even assuming all is aboveboard, what most don’t realize is that surface temperature measurements are not static; they change year to year. These changes induce uncertainty, which has so far been badly underestimated. This is why claims of thousandths of a degree change are, at best, dubious, and are more likely subject to large uncertainties.

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  • Paul

    nothing like a supposed crisis to help fund the science grants.

  • Autrey Windle

    We were young once. They told us horror stories about drug use. We got a little older and found out that our babies would not be born with 2 heads if we took pot or LSD. We took pot and LSD and more and more drugs. Most of us died too young along the way. These things actually happen when you tell lies to make your case. People stop listening and then the boy who cried wolf actually does die by the wolf’s hand…

  • eddiestardust

    The Author apparently believes that putting on an extra blanket at night does NOT provide added warmth:(

    • Actually the author believes that putting on an extra blanket night does not cremate anyone.

    • llew jones

      It’s not really that simple. Though there are some physicists who reject the Greenhouse hypothesis entirely, if we accept that Svante Arrhenius’s GHG hypothesis (about 1896) is correct, climate science, of which he is the “father”,doesn’t know much more today than he did about the many other variables that produce climate change.

      Arrhenius postulated that adding extra CO2 to Earth’s atmosphere would have only a relatively minor effect on global temperature. Further he showed from laboratory experiments that the temperature rise caused by that extra CO2 is logarithmically related to the temperature rise. For those with a basic understanding of maths such a relationship means the rate of change asymptotes to zero. That is as CO2 is increased each added unit of mass has less and less effect on global temperature. So increasing the atmospheric concentration of CO2 alone can have little effect and certainly alone cannot cause a runaway temperature increase.

      Arrhenius postulated that there is a positive feedback with the very powerful GHG, water vapor, i.e. The small heating effect of CO2 evaporates water vapor from the oceans thus increasing water vapor in the atmosphere and that could cause significant global warming. To this day there is no clear evidence of this positive feedback and some climate scientists, who do not belong to the alarmist sect, suggest that effect may in fact be neutral to
      negative. Which would mean goodbye CO2 induced global warming and hence fossil fuel induced global warming. Arrhenius did not investigate the effect of clouds on this process and no scientist, even to today is sure what effect they have, positive or negative on global warming.

      Naturally occurring climate change i.e. driven by natural factors has changed Earth’s climate over millennia. Many climate scientists, not members of the alarmist sect, suggest that as the observed increase in global temperature
      out of the little ice age, prior to the Industrial Revolution, is probably still contributing today to the small increase of global temperature with maybe a minor input from human activity.

      The CO2 science overlooked is the positive effect this vital to all life on the Earth gas has on plant growth. Some scientists are attributing record wheat and cereal crops over the last decade to the extra CO2 in the atmosphere. As the UN demographers predict Earth’s population will increase to 9 billion in the next few decades perhaps we should be looking to increase our CO2 output. The Green’s solution is to reduce the Earth’s population to a “sustainable”1 billion. That’s the choice for your kids and grand kids.

      .

      • Autrey Windle

        WOW! I couldn’t have said it better myself…or said it at all but I do understand it when you said it. Thank you.

    • kevin jorgensen

      After the 4th or 5th blanket anyone knows that one feels no warmer.

  • Rodney Taylor

    I suspect that the deforestation of the Amazon basin has more effect on climate change than CO2 emissions.

  • Paul

    climate has been changing since as long as there has been a climate. It used to be called global warming then it stopped warming so they called it climate change so they could yell the sky is falling whether the temps go up or down. It’s just a made up boogey man along with the pipe dream of world peace to try and undermine national sovereignty and usher in a global govt. Google ‘Walter Cronkite New World Order’ and look for a video of his speech to better understand how the media is in bed with the global govt movement. Look at how the climate change treaties undermine national sovereignty. Wake up people, don’t fall for it.

    • eddiestardust

      But the sky DOES fall for pete sake:) Aqueous Meteors….what we call
      RAIN today…bits of dust and rock we call Meteors too.

    • RuthER

      And keep in mind that global gov’t is based on inducing poverty to create gov’t dependence. Remember how this myth of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming removes the source of income for many American families and puts entire communities out of business, halts progress towards environmental improvements, and also prevents poor nations from rising to the level of wealth we have enjoyed. Whoever controls the [cheap reliable] energy controls the world.

  • honesttoGod

    At most, you have thrown into doubt a study, from one source– NOAA. We are not the only people in the world studying climate change, and our climate scientists are not the only ones who are finding it, and finding it in ways that suggest rapid change that is correlated with industrial activity. To believe that all climate science was bunk, you have to believe in a conspiracy of vast proportions by people of varied political and social opinions for ends that are… amorphous or undetermined at best. If the best way to decide who is active in a conspiracy is to look for who benefits, and who benefits the most, then the likelihood of climate scientists being conspirators is fairly small. Now, industries that derive their profit and wealth from fossil fuels and their continued use… those folks benefit. And of course, maintaining an anti-rational discourse and sewing doubt about science has real political consequences, as the election of politicians who site “alternate facts” (lies) makes clear.

    • Paul

      This article is pointing out that the scientists themselves are doing the alternative facts game. And they’ve been playing the alternative facts game for decades. When I was a kid in the late 70s I remember the science fear mongering about the looming ice age, what happened? Whoops. Oh and how is that peak oil thing working out? Weren’t we supposed to have run dry by now? Whoops. Alternative facts but still more fear mongering. Fear pays for the research grants afterall and the global government elites see the opportunity to bend it to their will, and persecute every scientist who dares call out the alternative facts.

      • superman999

        I agree totally Paul. I remember the junk in the late seventies early eighties about the new Ice Age coming… And how we were going to have to move closer to the Equator to grow food and survive. These egomaniacs really believe we control the destiny of Earth…. Not!

      • honesttoGod

        Absolutely. The real money is in government grants. The money from fossil fuel industries has no effect on government policy. It’s all these greedy scientists, that’s where the conspiracy lies.

        • Paul

          There’s 10’s of billions of $$ up for grabs in fed grants to science, don’t be fooled that there isn’t an agenda at work. Tick off the wrong elites and the career is over

    • superman999

      You sir, wouldn’t believe the truth if it was smashed over your head because you don’t want to. No amount of arguing, or facts, will change your mind.

      • honesttoGod

        Projection.

    • Jim Nassetta

      And the Warren Commission was spot on…

    • Phillip Driscoll

      And Scientists/Universities/Agencies- who keep perpetually funded by governments and organizations wanting to push the AGW agenda and the money stream proposed by the UN and undeveloped countries who will profit from the proposed UN global redistribution of wealth. Personally I little warming is welcomed in the northern hemisphere? Which is a bigger threat to man-kind given we are near the end of the current interglacial warming period, cooling the planet or warming the planet? Be careful what you ask for.

  • DoctorLarry

    When a governmental response to a supposed crisis is to TAX something, you can be assured it is not a crisis.

  • Kevin Quillen

    global warming is simply a tool that is being used to redistribute wealth, and control people. It is going to be soon obvious to all and the foolishness will end. Why do you think that queer marriage, transgenderism, silly bathroom rules are coming at us fast and furious? Why do you think that the liberals are stirring up and paying for protests? Immigration hysteria? Race baiting? All to divide us and keep us from focusing. I pray it is not too late to save our nation but I fear.

  • james81

    By actions precisely like these, climate “scientists” have dirtied the name of the thousands of other scientists going about their work in an objective manner. Publishing a study and not archiving the data? That’s misconduct, to put it politely.

    If scientists want to march on D.C., it should be none other than these climate posers. Perhaps Michael Mann, he of hockey-stick and Climategate fame, can lead the march.

  • MikeW

    Climate “science” is fake science. It’s time for Trump to drain the NOAA/NASA climate swamp. If Global Warming of Doom cultists want to continue funding this scam, they should use their own money, and not feed from the government trough.

    • Paul

      I wouldn’t call climate science entirely fake, but rather daring to shine a light on the political agenda that is exploiting it.

  • bbb

    Anyone with one eye and half sense knew the climate was not spiraling out of control because us tiny little ants called humans did things to force an entire planet, ecosystem, rotation around the sun and could promote scientific data to cause panic and crisis.
    Trees are a problem because they emit CO2? What, cut them all down? Then without the O they also emit…….
    Having children overloads the planet and it will tilt? What, reduce all humanity to a few dozen?
    It gets warmer in the summer and too cold in the winter? Yes………..and?
    The idiotic claims of environmental hysterics have been amusing, but not enough for me to pay our corrupt government a big tax so I am permitted to breathe.
    God created the heavens and the Earth, and the seasons, and to every season there is a time for planting and harvesting.
    I thank God that some very brave scientists have stepped forward and admitted that scientists have been paid with extra research dollars to alter scientific data.
    Too bad we cannot hold accountable those who pulled this rank abuse of science for their personal path to wealth.

  • C. William Russell

    Altering reliable data says it all. I do not suggest our habits have no impact on climate, just want to remember things we have no control over influence larger trends. Carbon occurs naturally, many of us are more concerned with toxins in food production and pest control.

    • Knowledge Transfer

      Without carbon dioxide there would be no oxygen. Carbon dioxide and oxygen are like man and wife.

  • honesttoGod

    I should have known not to take “The Stream” narrative on anything without a grain (or an ocean’s worth) of salt. This story, relying on a _Daily Mail_ story creates a decidedly misleading (if not false) impression. Bates never claims that the study is in any way falsified, nor that the data was cooked. His problems are procedural, in particular that the study in question had not followed the guidelines he himself had written before he retired (and he was retired during the time of this study). In an interview with the AP, he explicitly rejects that there is any nefarious intent in the study. Oh, yes. He also affirms that he thinks human carbon emissions are changing the earth’s climate.
    “However Bates, who acknowledges that Earth is warming from man-made carbon dioxide emissions, said in the interview that there was ‘no data tampering, no data changing, nothing malicious.’
    ‘It’s really a story of not disclosing what you did,’ Bates said in the interview. ‘It’s not trumped up data in any way shape or form.'”
    Further, studies that compared the data from the NOAA study and several others found that the studies arrived at essentially the same conclusions, which can be found at the Scientific American’s web site.
    Look, you can think what you want. You can deny that facts are facts, or at least that the facts have been interpreted wrongly. However, when you write stories that are misleading– when you attribute meanings to people’s statements that are counter to the positions that they actually hold, and have articulated clearly, this is not merely about your beliefs or opinions. This is lying. Climate change may be impacted by human actions or it may not, but Bates did NOT suggest that there was any illicit intent in the study he criticized. That this story printed here tries to lead the reader to believe that Bates does think there is something malicious in the study is to do what you accuse others of– It is LYING. You are– or claim to be, anyway– a site of Christian opinion and thinking. You know who the father of lies is. Stories like this make me wonder if he is a family relation of yours.

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