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Quote of the day: ‘you must spend a trillon dollars to fight global warming (sorry I lost the supporting data)’

4 April 2010

While that’s not a real quote, it aptly summarizes the current news.  See this following excerpt from a major new article providing a summary of the climate science debate:  “Climate Catastrophe – A Superstorm for Global Warming Research“, Der Spiegel, 1 April 2010.  It’s strongly slanted in favor of the pro-AGW side, but covers many of the key issues.  Note this bombshell (red emphasis added):

Most of all, however, Jones {Director of the Climate Research Unit} controlled the “smoking gun” of climatology: the Earth’s temperature curve. The temperature records dating back to the beginning of industrialization are intended to prove that the average global temperature has already increased by almost one degree Celsius since 1850. … The problem is that the quality of the raw data derived from weather services around the world differs considerably. At a number of weather stations, temperatures rose because houses and factories had been built around them. Elsewhere, stations were moved and, as a result, suddenly produced different readings. In all of these cases, Jones had to use statistical methods to correct the errors in the temperature readings, using an approach called “homogenization.”

Did Jones proceed correctly while homogenizing the data? Most climatologists still believe Jones’ contention that he did not intentionally manipulate the data. However, that belief will have to remain rooted in good faith. Under the pressure of McIntyre’s attacks, Jones had to admit something incredible: He had deleted his notes on how he performed the homogenization. This means that it is not possible to reconstruct how the raw data turned into his temperature curve.

‘One of the Biggest Sins’

For Peter Webster, a meteorologist at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, this course of events is “one of the biggest sins” a scientist can commit. “It’s as if a chef was no longer able to cook his dishes because he lost the recipes.” While amateur climatologist McIntyre spent years begging in vain for the raw data, Webster eventually managed to convince Jones to send them to him. He is the only scientist to date who has been given access to the data. “To be honest, I’m shocked by the sloppy documentation,” Webster told SPIEGEL.

Unnoticed by the public, Webster has spent several months searching for inconsistencies in the Jones curve. For example, it has been known for some time that there are noticeable jumps in ocean temperature readings. The reason for the inconsistencies is that, beginning in the 1940s, water temperature was no longer measured in buckets filled with seawater, but at the intake valves for the water used to cool ship engines. But when he analyzed Jones’s data, Webster discovered suspiciously similar jumps in temperature — but on land. “Water buckets can’t explain this,” says Webster.

Curious Inconsistencies

The Jones team attributes another sudden jump in temperature readings to the decline in air pollution since the 1970s as a result of stricter emissions laws. Particles suspended in the air block solar radiation, so that temperatures rise when the air becomes cleaner. Air pollution in the south has always been much lower than in the north, because, as Webster explains, “there is less land and therefore less industry in the Southern Hemisphere.”

Oddly enough, however, the temperature increase in the south is just as strong as it is in the north. “That isn’t really possible,” says Webster.

Webster doesn’t believe that inconsistencies like these will invalidate the Jones curve altogether. “But we would like to know, of course, what’s behind all of these phenomena.” If a natural mechanism were at least partly to blame for the rise in temperatures, it would decrease the share of human influence in current global warming.

This is not the first time the Climate Research Unit claims its lost data.  Or even the second.  See “Climate change data dumped“, The Times, 29 November 2009. This is based on an article by Roger Pilke Jr. from 12 August 2009, describing the CRU’s woeful reply to a FOIA request — and admission that they deleted the original temperature records. They’re working to recreate the lost datasets.

For more information from the FM site

To read other articles about these things, see the FM reference page on the right side menu bar. Of esp relevance to this topic:

Afterword

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