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Congressional hearings?

According to the Daily Caller, Republicans in the US Congress seem set to announce hearings into the surface temperature records. This intelligence was based on a tweet from Dana Rohrabacher, the vice chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee.



It seems fairly clear that the surface stations are a shambles. It is not so obvious that this has led to a material overstatement of warming. But I think we can say with some certainty that a congressional hearing is probably not going to get to the bottom of the scientific issues.

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Reader Comments (71)

Nope JA, consensus climate history is a false narrative, and that is the overlying theme of this bit of political curiosity. I think it is a wonderful idea to arouse public curiosity about the temperature record and the temperature reconstructions.

Sure, they won't resolve this particular Gordian Knot. But awareness of just where we are in the whole regime of natural climate change will go a long way toward exposing the falsity of the current narrative.

Feb 22, 2015 at 9:04 AM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Kim, they should be choosing to examine the models, or the IPCC process or the risible papers behind the '97%': there is real meat on those bones. The adjustments are too arcane, and are in the main perfectly defendable. The sight of a bunch of right wing politicians failing to land blows on NASA scientists is not going to persuade a single neutral that CAGW is a bunch of hooey. If you just want some TV coverage you can cheer along to, I'm sure this will be fine.

Feb 22, 2015 at 9:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterJonathan Abbott

The warmist argument over temperature adjustments is that while some might indeed be wrong, the pluses and minuses cancel each other out for the global average.. Setting aside if this is true or not, two questions spring to mind -

1) When proxy reconstructions are done, do the researchers use locally adjusted or raw station data to calibrate the proxies? What effect might badly adjusted data have on the calibration?

2) While a global total might be ok, would badly adjusted station data disguise clues that are significant to understand how changes in that location occur? eg the jet stream moves and sometimes goes to the north of us, sometimes to the south. If you homoginesed too wide an area, you might miss the significance of the jet stream. This is probably not that much of an issue for areas with a lot of station data (like Europe) but for high latitudes and places like Africa, it probably skews the data a lot.

Feb 22, 2015 at 9:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

@Jonathan Abbott ..don't agree you are over certain for the evidence presented ?
"The charge can never be proven " - could be, the warmists will be doing their best to stir up confusion and possibly have a trick up their's just upto skeptics to present the evidence they have ...If you were pretty sure a gov dept were fiddling something shouldn't keep your mouth shut should you ?
- "and it could irrevocably link scepticism to US partisan Republicanism in the public mind". - well the 10% who are warmist already think that
..... but most of the rest are skeptics already

Feb 22, 2015 at 9:59 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Jonathan Abbott, I agree that the issue of temperature adjustments is a dangerous one. The warmist fallback position is that the different temperature records (GISS, UAH etc) broadly agree. However, the station data is the climate scientists' most basic product. Much of the rest of their output is built upon it. Is 'near enough' good enough for the input to hugely complex models? The treatment of the data is a hint to how much care and precision the whole system is built upon.

Feb 22, 2015 at 10:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

"Bish, this is not a hill you should choose to die on.

Feb 21, 2015 at 3:21 PM | Eli Rabett

Some may think, not I for sure, that a certain bunny feels the earth trembling over his burrow :-)

Feb 21, 2015 at 7:36 PM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose "

He's been watching WW2 video and found out about Tallboys?

Feb 22, 2015 at 10:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterAnother Ian

Mike Mangan: Perhaps the data guardians made an error of omission, that they forgot to correct the past in records of obsolete stations, say closed before 1990. So we may compare the global time series up to that year of closed stations and those that were allowed to survive.

Feb 22, 2015 at 10:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterMindert Eiting

Given that many authors of climate papers have not included a copy of the data they worked from, how is it ever possible to verify results if you don't know if the data has changed since the original researcher used it? eg GISS in particular has changed a lot over the years. Do those changes invalidate early papers written using it? Would anyone know or care?

Feb 22, 2015 at 11:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

It seems fairly clear that the surface stations are a shambles. It is not so obvious that this has led to a material overstatement of warming.

I just looked at 30 surface stations, 1000 km radius around Alice Springs, and that is the conclusion I reach. Virtually all the meta data has been modified with warming added some places and cooling added in others. It is a total shambles. But the means of the V3.1 and V2 are the same. Big post Monday if I can get it written.

I incidentally had a post Friday looking at 10 "random pairs" of records from S hemisphere.

Homogenisation Adjustments to Temperature Records, Southern Hemisphere

Feb 22, 2015 at 11:43 AM | Registered CommenterEuan Mearns

Nasa is not monolithic in respect of Climate Change and The link below is to the executive summary ( 14 pages) of a paper published by a Research Group of 25 NASA Space Program Scientists, Engineers and Astronauts who have spent four years studying the CO2 emissions driven Global Warming ( now aka Climate Change) . If the Congressional Committee get to se this and interrogate its authors they may have serious doubts about the validity of what other parts of NASA are doing with the underlying temperature data.

It concludes that the sort of energy policies being adopted by the USA and EU Member states, prompted by alarmist propaganda about CO2, are dangerous and economically lunatic actions.

I strongly urge you to read it ( it has hyperlinks to the full paper of 86 pages inc references) and the website of the study group)

Feb 22, 2015 at 1:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeospeculator

Jonathan, I agree there are several targets, and had I been consulted, I'd've also recommended going after the models, first. That's the most egregious and obvious flaw in the whole charade.

One step at a time. The public has background on temperature series, and is somewhat knowledgable about both thermometers and their errors. Heh, look at all the banks clocks with different temperatures. They have a vague idea of 'Hide the Decline', but think it has to do with temperatures rather than proxies, but it is potent because of the deception. A further benefit may be some focus on the Hockey Stick, still engraved on too many peoples' minds as an icon.

Re-educating the public along skeptical lines is going to be a long term proposition. I think it is a good idea to get the public curious about the temperature record and the more curious they become, the better and the further back in time their curiosity seeks, the better.

Feb 22, 2015 at 11:03 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

There's a great thread at Climate Etc., by Zeke Hausfather on TOBS adjustment of the temperature record, the least controversial of adjustments. Pielke Pere is in the house, discussing. He and Judy hammer on the uncertainties of the method not being adequately explored or acknowledged, and there seems to be general agreement that it is the UHI adjustments which are most problematic.

Feb 23, 2015 at 12:31 AM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Put me in the Derek Sorensen school of thought.

No adjustments.

This is NOT as controversial as one might think. Nor is it an allergic reaction or a reflexive distaste toward adjustments - as some ill-informed commenters like to think.

All calculations carried out for adjustments can, and should be used to determine the change in trend or absolute change in anomaly values, were the adjustments not be carried out. Strict criteria should then be employed to throw out stations that do not pass pre-defined quality thresholds in the amount of adjustment required. Global warming proponents do the opposite today - they apply the adjustments, then declare the data to have become good, and keep it.

Feb 23, 2015 at 2:13 AM | Registered Commentershub

Unless the hearings deal with the main cause: that raw invalidated and unverified theory is presented as verifiable and solid fact then nothing is going to come of this.

The problem isn't the cursory experimental evidence used to justify temperature adjustments and anomaly calculation. It's the lack of professionally verified and characterised follow up data that would demonstrate what is needed to make temperature data policy ready.

Why did politicians go and listen to scientists without realising the limits of their knowledge? And why do none of the climate scientists appear to realise that they are amateurs when it comes to providing robust verified data with well characterised processes. In short the same type of processes that make your car safe to drive.

But then again give someone loads of money...

Feb 23, 2015 at 12:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterMicky H Corbett

A couple of years ago I assumed the adjustments to GISS, BEST etc. were as dodgy as the Hockey Stick. But as I've followed various posts and comments on WUWT, Climate Etc. and Climate Audit I've come to the conclusion that they are in the main justifiable. The idea that these adjustments are a silver bullet that will kill climate alarmism is 'clear, simple and wrong.' Any congressional hearings on the subject will be at best a waste of time. I've written a blog post with more details here:

Feb 23, 2015 at 7:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterJonathan Abbott


The US Congress is currently engaged in an ongoing marathon investigation into whether or not the IRS, the federal state tax authority blessed with awesome and terrifying powers, used those powers to investigate and punish unwontedly some political institutions on a partisan basis. It uses those powers quite routinely on individual taxpayers and businesses.

The Congressional investigations appear to be getting nowhere and the bureaucrats who populate the IRS have not yet been tarred and feathered by the outraged populace and the polititions who generate the iniquitous tax laws of the US are not, at this time, bloated corpses hanging from the streetlamps of Washington by thin strands of piano wire.

Do we therefore think that a Congressional investigation into possible data tampering by an obscure NASA institute will achieve anything, at least on any timescale relevant to the issue.
Feb 21, 2015 at 7:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin B"

Interesting misrepresentation there Kevin. Expect more serious action as time moves on since the the biggest stumbling blocks are the Justice Department refusing to follow through.

Any first hearings will general scope hearings. People will be invited, questions will be asked and testimony written down.

Then it will get interesting.

For all of those people expecting a true 'find the bad guys' investigation, forget it.

However consider this from a different perspective. The whole basis for 'global climate change/disruption/warming/charming/whatever' is the temperature record.

Identify that the temperature record is unreliable and CAGW alarmism is toast. Do global climate models utilize unreliable adjusted temperature records; heh, guess what goes the toast route too?
Yeah, most 'adjustments' can be 'explained'
Are those 'adjustments' proven accurate?

Does anyone expect a legislator to accept that smearing temperatures into a field from a site 500km away as appropriate? I sure don't.

Would anyone sit through a presentation list every adjustment ever made to the 1930's temperature record and still believe the temperature trend is accurate? I doubt it.

I worked for a portion of the Federal Government. That portion of the government would summarily dismiss a person or an entire department for inappropriately adjusting data. Appropriately adjusted data required extensive details and records document the adjustments.

For some odd reason, climate scientists believe they have special dispensation when dealing with temperatures and the 'globe'.

The UHI effect will be very interesting to a number of legislators, especially those who live in the country outside of big cities, but work in the city. That will be a fun questioning series.

I can almost hear the legislator who asks why the temperature record could not be used as it is. The same goes for the one that asks why the temperature record doesn't rely on the satellite data.

Eventually those legislators will ask how much money NASA has spent/is spending on data fiddling and how much they spend on maintaining thermometers around the world while they have a perfectly good satellite system.
Wasting money on data fiddling and thousands of physical thermometers will get the attention of many and is likely where NASA managers will squirm most. Those funding cuts NASA instituted when their budget was cut will stick in many a craw before the questing is finished.

Investigate that sterling example of data keeping, the temperature record!!

Many of the Administrative Branch Agencies and Departments are getting found wanting, mismanaged and just plain corrupt. The current POTUS may not institute any fixes, but the next president will be forced to make major changes; especially as several prosecutions will be ongoing. A Republican President will likely work with Congress to completely restructure the Administrative Branch back in line with the Constitution.

Pared down duties will be mirrored by pared down departments. All those overtly partisan employees, compromised employees, corrupt employees and bad management should start job shopping now.

Feb 23, 2015 at 7:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterATheoK

From your lips to the electorate's ears.

Feb 23, 2015 at 11:08 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

I have been working professionally with "regionalised variables" all my career and am quite familiar with the matters of sampling, value calibration and replication, geostatistical variation and the statistical validation and application of sample values to accurately estimate the properties of the body being sampled.

It seems that wherever raw temperature records are compared with adjusted or homogenised values which are then apparently used in climate " science" that there is an overwhelming preponderance of occasions where earlier raw values have been reduced and/or more recent ones increased. Unless the measurement method is systematically biassed there should be fairly similar errors on both the up and down side of the raw values - which does not appear to be the case.

This might well be justified if there was ALWAYS a known systematic bias in the original value such as that older measurements methods gave measurable consistent and statistically significantly lower results than the correct ones. Alternatively such adjustments might require correction if the time of observation between each adjusted station and a standard and invariate time by known and precise amounts between one station or another. This also means an extensive calibration exercise is required at each station which may not have been carried out and cannot of course be carried out at defunct stations ( of which there are thousands)!

A further reason might be that large numbers of readings were taken at stations which had become effected by the UHI or other temperature modifying influences or phenomena. There is also a possibility that thermometers graduated indifferent scale would require downward adjustment to bring all readings on to a standard basis if some systematic, known cooling influence was present and measured. Also why is the widespread need for downward adjustment at many stations as demonstrated by Watts apparently ignored?.

No doubt these issues will be discussed at the hearings and some , perhaps many of them can be explained or justified. What really needs to be probed very thoroughly is why the adjustments always seem to be in the same direction - ie earlier adjusted values cooler and later adjusted values higher than the raw data.

The whole subject exudes a very unpleasant odour of " data cooking" and until full and credible explanations are provided we should not accept the temperature valus being presented ( quite apart from the fact that there is hardly any recent or reiable data from the surface of the oceans - 70% of the earth's surface0 at face value and the raw data should be demanded to be presented for ALL cases where adjustmnets have been made with the reason supplied in each and every case.

Which brings up a point I have not seen discussed which is are - max and min temperatures always taken ( or adjusted ) everywhere in the globe at the same "clock time" of day or when at the time wnen the sun is at the same ( seasonally variable of course) height above and below the horizon.

If both NH and SH temperatures are measured for example at Local Noon, and Local midnight one might get a quite different set of results that those that are now quoted as daily station average of min and max temperature and the aggregated for use in estimating the so called Global average.

Where can one find all these matters full disclosed and justified in the "peer reviewed" literature

Feb 23, 2015 at 11:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeospeculator

Zeke Hausfather and Steve Mosher answered much of the blathering.

There is a large literature looking into the effects of station and instrumentation changes.You can find a lot of it by searching - mmts crs or simply - surface station homogenization. Works in Google and Google Scholar. Arguments from personalignorance don't cut the mustard. People who have been working on the problem for decades got there ahead of you and figured out the answer.

Mar 5, 2015 at 9:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterEli Rabett

Classy stuff as usual, Halpern. You tell us that publishing lies lots of times makes them the truth? Where have I heard that before?

News for you - arguments from mendacity don't work either.

Mar 5, 2015 at 9:41 PM | Registered Commenterflaxdoctor

Eli Rabett

Thanks for directing my attention to the material you hyperlinked in your post. Many of my concerns are addressed there and most to my full satisfaction. There are still residual issues - especially about the apparent asymmetry of the adjustments but this could be at least partially as a consequence of reporting bias and as actual bias could relate also to genuine issues related to station redistribution over time and other variables I am inclined to agree that the enquiry will not surface much of consequence - as indeed the con]sequences of he adjustments are not of much either.

Having said that I am still disturbed by reports that original data has possibly not been meticulously preserved eg by the CRU at UEA.

Mar 7, 2015 at 8:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeospeculator

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