How warm is the Earth? How do we measure it?

Summary:  Laypeople discussing global warming often describe warming trends as if measured like the temperature in my backyard.  This is false on several levels.  Collecting the data on global temperatures is a large task, and maintaining a consistent data series over time is even more difficult.  Despite the extreme importance of this data, today we do neither task well.  Other posts have discussed the lack of quality control and ad hoc adjustments to the data.  This post looks at the first step:  collecting the data.  But the problem is the same throughout the process:  underfunding.

This graph has rattled around the Internet:  National Temperature 1895-2008, usually by those pointing to the warming trend.  They seldom mention its source:

2008 Temperature for U.S. Near Average, was Coldest Since 1997; Below Average for December“, NOAA, 8 January 2009 — “The 2008 annual temperature for the contiguous United States was near average, while the temperature for December was below the long-term average, based on records dating back to 1895, according to a preliminary analysis by scientists at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C.”

 The US surface temperature record is an important issue. Unfortunately the data is in terrible shape, esp considering what’s at stake (the global data is in far worse shape, of course). Since the issues are technical, here a brief introduction understandable by laypeople (the best I can do in 1000 words) — with links to more detailed information.

Two posts discussing this graph

(1)  “The NOAA/NCDC 2008 temperature map shows near normal USA in 2008“, Anthony Watts, posted at Watts Up with That, 15 January 2009 — He shows a valuable NOAA map not included in the press release, illustrating which parts of the US were warmer/colder than usual in 2008.  Despire the press release being about 2008, it only shows this map for December 2008.  Why is that?  Look at the maps to see the an obvious reason.

(2)  “NOAA versus NASA: US Data“, Steven McIntyre, Climate Audit, 16 January 2009 — Excerpt:

Readers need to keep in mind that there is a substantial “divergence” between NOAA US and NASA {GISS} US temperatures as shown in the graphic below. Since 1940, NOAA’s US has increased relative to NASA’s US at a rate of 0.39 deg C/century, thus 0.27 deg C since 1940.

At present, we don’t know very much about the NOAA calculation. To my knowledge, they make no effort to make a UHI adjustment along the lines of NASA GISS.

As I’ve mentioned before, in my opinion, the moral of the surfacestations.org project in the US is mainly that it gives a relatively objective means of deciding between these two discrepant series. As others have observed, the drift in the GISS results looks like it’s going to be relatively small compared to results from CRN1-2 stations – a result that has caused some cackling in the blogosphere. IMO, such cackling is misplaced. The surfacestations results give an objective reason to view the the NOAA result as biased.

It also confirms that adjustments for UHI {urban heat island} are required.

Outside the US, the GISS meta-data on population and rural-ness is so screwed up and obsolete that their UHI “adjustment” is essentially random and its effectiveness in the ROW {rest-of-world} is very doubtful. Neither NOAA nor CRU {Climate Research Unit, University of East Anglia} even bother with such adjustments as they rely on various hokey “proofs” that UHI changes over the 20th century do not “matter”.

What are the source of surface temperature data?

There are two major global indices of temperatures that incorporate station data: CRU and GISS.  Both rely to different extents on the data from NOAA’s GHCN. A large proportion of the GHCN network is composed of the USHCN.

This just scratches the surface.  For a detailed (if poorly written) tour though the various data sources I recommend this article.  Esp note the links directly to the various datasets, and the section about graph scaling at the bottom.

Some of the limitations of the global temperature data

(a)  The deveopmed nations have larger and higher quality networks than the emerging nations.  The oceans and poles have far less coverage.

(b)  Problems in the CRU and NOAA data: many stations disappear over time, and there is no adjustment for the urban heat effect.

(c)  There is a large divergence between surface temperature data and satellite data (UAS and GIS).

The satellite data can be matched with the various surface temperature records only with adjustments roughly as large as the warming “signal”.

  1. Divergence Between GISS and UAH since 1980“, Steve Goddard, posted at Watts Up with That, 17 January 2009
  2. GISS Divergence with satellite temperatures since the start of 2003“, Steve Goddard and Anthony Watts, posted at Watts Up with That, 18 January 2009

Some sites with more information

The Climate Audit archives:

  1. about NASA’s GISS data
  2. about surface temperature data, esp long-term sea surface data
  3. Descriptions and analysis of the various surface temperature datasets

Afterword

Please share your comments by posting below.  Per the FM site’s Comment Policy, please make them brief (250 words max), civil, and relevant to this post.  Or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).

For information about this site see the About page, at the top of the right-side menu bar.

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:

Posts on the FM site about climate science

  1. A look at the science and politics of global warming, 12 June 2008
  2. An article giving strong evidence of global warming, 30 June 2008
  3. More forecasts of a global cooling cycle, 15 July 2008
  4. Two valuable perspectives on global warming, 4 August 2008
  5. President Kennedy speaks to us about global warming and Climate Science, 7 August 2008
  6. Good news about global warming!, 21 October 2008 – More evidence of cooling.
  7. One of the most interesting sources of news about science and nature!, 27 October 2008
  8. “Aliens cause global warming”: wise words from the late Michael Crichton, 15 November 2008
  9. Watching the world change before our eyes, 29 November 2008
  10. This week’s report on the news in climate science, 7 December 2008
  11. The Senate Minority report is out: “More Than 650 International Scientists Dissent Over Man-Made Global Warming Claims”, 12 December 2008
  12. Weekend reading recommenations about climate change, 13 December 2008
  13. An important new article about climate change, 29 December 2008
  14. My “wish list” for the climate sciences in 2009, 2 January 2009
  15. Important new climate science articles, 11 January 2009
  16. Peer review of scientific work – another example of a flawed basis for public policy, 22 January 2009

9 thoughts on “How warm is the Earth? How do we measure it?

  1. I trace the distortion of climate science by politics in the US back to the Al Gore vice presidency, when Mr. Gore took an unusually strong interest in NASA. Part of the interest was due to wanting to help friends with Lockheed acquire the next-gen shuttle prototype contract, which they milked for all it was worth and returned zilch to taxpayers. Another part was in making sure Russia was awarded lucrative contracts for building parts of the ISS, which promptly broke down or never worked to begin with. Part of the interest was clearly in making sure that James Hansen at NASA GISS was well set up for continuing funds and influence.

    NASA has never recovered, and the catastrophic wing of the climate science community has been exceptionally well endowed by government and by private foundations ever since.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: The global warming crusade used methods developed by Carl Sagan in his “nuclear winter” campaign. See this for the story: “Nuclear winter: science and politics“, Brian Martin, Science and Public Policy, Vol. 15, No. 5, October 1988, pp. 321-334 — Excellent background description and bibliography. Vital background to understand the global warning debate.

    As for NASA, see: “James Hansen’s Former NASA Supervisor Declares Himself a Skeptic“, posted at the Inhofe blog of the US Senate Committe on Environment and Public Works, 27 January 2009 — “Says Hansen ‘Embarrassed NASA’ & ‘Was Never Muzzled’”. This story is interesting. The actual letter by Dr. John Theon should be out tomorrow, and deserves attention.

  2. Forgetting any rhetoric or any entrenched positions, it is technically very difficult. As anyone who uses Google Earth can see the Earth is not homogenous. Oceans, seas, mountains all make sampling extremely challenging.

    Take a simple example: yesterday the official average for Melbourne was 29C (now it is 41C, ugh) , but looking at different areas .. in the one city…. it varied between 21C and (I think) 35C.

    So we use variations of sampling theory, using all the land/sea/etc stations for raw data and filling in the, very large blank areas, with estimates. Now, depending on the area, this can come up with reasonable estimates overall. But it can go wrong as well. The latest, Antarctic results have come from a newer, and yes better, methodology, incorporating the only real data source that covers the whole World, satellites. Ditto other areas of the World. So it is an evolving science (as all science is).

    Before to much comfort is taken by some people, the greatest concentration of weather observations and hence reliable data sources is, of course, in the developed Northern Hemisphere nations. Even the logs of ship Captains, going back to the (at least) mid 1700’s is giving us all insights to the past .. and thus helping our understanding of the present and, possible, future.

    Is it perfect, no. Will it improve, yes. Does that mean we can all sit back and ignore current results and go back to sleep .. well, imagine if you have a CRT scan (just like my wife did last year) and you discover that there might be an aneuarism in your brain, but only more detailed studies can determine it.

    In my wife’s case she did do that, which is why she is alive today. If she had ignored it .. she’d be dead now. You can make your own analogies about GW, or anything else for that matter, yourself. Me? When I’m out in the bush and I hear a strange noise from the old truck (1989 and still going strong), I stop and check it.
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    Fabius Maxmius replies: Like most of your comments about climate science, this seems written in reply to something on another site. What posts here advocate “we can all sit back and ignore current results” — or anything other than to “check the data”? These ernest lies give your comments their “cultist in the airport” feel.

    The 67 articles about climate science that I cite in these posts (not counting the 33 general media articles) all in some way describe the effort by a wide range of people to understand what happening on our world (for the list see Science & nature – studies & reports).

    My recommendations for climate science have consistently been for more funding, more intense research, to provide a basis for policy action. Since this post is about the temperature record, in “My “wish list” for the climate sciences in 2009“:

    The collection of US data is not even remotely close to the claimed “high quality” (except in a relative sense to that of the global data). … The proxy data for reconstruction of historical climate data is absurdly poorly funded, considering the importance of the conclusions. Again multi-disciplinary teams are needed — with third party reviews of sampling techniques (to avoid cherry-picking of samples or proxies), interpretation (e.g., is the signal from precipitation or temperature), and analysis (e.g., to avoid over-emphasis on certain geographical regions or samples — as has proven true of Mann’s analysis).

    Also bizarre is the first part of your comment. This post discusses specific limitations in the US surface temperature network. In response you sign a little hymm about “the greatest concentration of weather observations and hence reliable data sources is, of course, in the developed Northern Hemisphere nations.” Classic example of the pro-AGW lay comments on this site, giving no evidence that he looked at the post before writing a reply.

    “The latest, Antarctic results have come from a newer, and yes better, methodology”

    Oldskpetic is speaking ex cathedra, no doubt. Back in the real world, this paper is just another round in the debate. Since the underlying data has not yet been release, we have only Oldskpetic’s talks with God to tell us it is better. The initial comments from actual scientists have been quite cautious, as this suggests that much previous work was incorrect — hence analysis is needed before accepting these findings.

    For actual information about “logs of ship Captains, going back to the (at least) mid 1700’s” see the 7 articles about the ocean temperature record listed on Science & Nature – studies & reports reference page, which link to the debate about this data.

  3. Tsk tsk, Fabius. You are ignoring “science,” I mean seriously … the green folks are so happy that the Obama Administration is going to (I paraphrase) ‘listen to science.’

    All kidding aside, it appears to me that the Obama Administration is going to go whole-hog onto the AGW bandwagon (as opposed to Bush who was off the bandwagon). A recent interview with Steven Chu on NPR (or an affiliate, I can’t find a link to the interview) was quite ambiguous and left me with more questions.

    A quick google yields this about Mr. Chu: Obama To Name Scientist To Head Energy Dept (NPR) which leads me to believe that the pseudo-science and distortion for political gain will continue.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Both Obama’s speeches and appointments (e.g., Steven Chu for Sec of Energy, John Holden as chief science advisor) suggest the possibility of bold and strong policies to fight global warming. The public policy recommendations of this Administration could have major implications for the rate of US economic growth for the next generation.

    To see what we might expect:

    * “Impact of Population Growth“, Paul R. Ehrlich and John P. Holdren, Science, 26 March 1971 — Does not read well 37 years later.
    * “Top scientist’s fears for climate“, BBC, 31 August 2006 — About Holden; some of his statments in here are out there.
    * “Convincing the climate-change skeptics“, John Holden, op-ed in the Boston Globe, 4 August 2008
    * “Steven Chu: ‘Coal is My Worst Nightmare’“, Wall Street Journal, 11 December 2008
    * “Flawed Science Advice for Obama?“, John Tierney, blogging at the NY Times, 19 December 2008 — About Holden.

  4. FM Note: I have re-written this, using the primary source (the subject is too imporant and complex to rely on a secondary source).

    Here is interesting website about just temperature stations: “Surfacestations update – we are within sight of the goal“, Anthony Watts, posted at Watts up with that”, 25 January 2009 — Excerpt:

    “I’m pleased to announce that the Surfacestations project has reached a major milestone, with 67% of the 1221 USHCN network now surveyed. 819 of 1221 stations have been examined in the USHCN network. Of the 819, 807 have been assigned a site quality rating. In some of those cases we’ve found the stations closed, or we are waiting for supplemental information to enable assigning a rating.

    “… the rating system {used} is identical to the one used by NOAA/NCDC to select sites for their new Climate Refernece Network (CRN).”

    Class 1 and 2 stations (the 2 top of the 4 ratings) comprise 11% of the stations sampled.

    If major policy decisions are to be made we need good data and not agenda driven science.

  5. FM note: Here we have yet another example of pro-AGW laypeople just making stuff up. They write replies to imaginary material. Is this some form of 21st century religion being born? Contagious delusions? Very odd, whatever the explanation. Let’s see if Seneca breaks the pattern and can supply a actual quote to support his assertions; other pro-AGW commenters consistently fail this simple test.

    A lot of folks take the AGW position uncritically (myself included), but Old Skeptic is not one of them. His personal anecdote is simply an illustration of the environmental precept “do no harm” — which means, when you’re not sure of something, take the least harmful course.

    You reply that massive changes in energy use will radically impact/harm the economy and our standard of living. AGW folks say that not making massive changes in energy use threaten our living in general.

    Maybe the better discussion is to question cui bono? who benefits from whatever policy is being promoted? The ethanol craze a few years ago was a clear case of a public debate over fuel efficiency being captured by the corn/agricultural sector for its private profit.
    I can’t see exactly what sectors would hope to benefit from a general economic slowdown imposed by stricter fuel efficiency standards, large public investments in alternate energy, etc.

    One of the arguments of the Apollo Alliance a few years ago (a group that proposed a massive public funding of alternate energy development, along the lines of the original Apollo space program), was that it would be a natural way to move the overgrown and socially useless defense industry into new directions that would keep the industry healthy while also producing a socially useful product.

    There must be more significant forces behind the AGW camp and the movement to develop alternate energy sources than just the personal vanity of Al Gore.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Here we go again. How many times have I asked pro-AGW folks to use quotes?

    “You reply that massive changes in energy use will radically impact/harm the economy and our standard of living.”

    There is nothing in this post remotely like that. I don’t see anything like that in any post on this site about global warming. Please use quotes, please stop the lies about my statements.

  6. Here is another — the last — of Oldskpetic’s lectures about science. The quotes from scientists are (of course) fine, but not Oldskeptics attempts to play scientist. He displays little knowledge of these matters and uniformly mis-states both the skeptics’ position (ironic, given his name) and the underlying issues. Plus he grossly mis-states what I say (an example here)

    Worse still is his contempt for scientists, assuming their work is easily refuted by someone with little knowledge of their field. Seen here in his comments about the solar influence on Earth’s climate, and more generally here. To see experts work on solar influences, see sections #4 and #5 on the FM Reference Page Science & Nature – studies & reports. You will find links to 2 dozen peer-reviewed articles by a wide range of experts.

    The primary theme of the this site’s posts about climate science is that there is a debate on these things. These long and largely unsupported assertions of “I know!” by true believers have been interesting to watch, but we have seen enough to adequately document the phenomenon.

    Future comments like this will be held rigorously to the 250 word Comment Policy (from which I had exempted him).
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    This is an example of our improving (but still incomplete of course) capabilities to measure temp across the world and to measure and calculate impacts of different effects.

    Ref: Antarctic: (from Crickey.com), Andrew Glikson, earth and paleo-climate scientist at ANU (Australian National University) writes:

    “the face of overwhelming evidence of severe climate disruption by the world’s leading research organisation (NASA, Hadley-Met, CSIRO, Potsdam, numerous universities), a denial syndrome continues to resort to long-discarded arguments, including variations in solar insolation. However, according to Sami Solanki, an international authority in solar science, “solar variability is unlikely to have been the dominant cause of the strong warming during the past three decades”.

    The luminescence effect of solar magnetic storms (sun spots) on the Earth surface is an order of magnitude less than the effects of rising CO2 gases since the midth 20th century. Sun spot variations account for changes of less than +/-0.4 Watt/m2 (+/-0.1 to 0.3 degrees C). For example, the change from near-zero sun spots during 1650 — 1700AD (“Maunder Minimum”) to near-150 sun spots at 1800AD correlates with temperature rise of +0.3 degrees C. The change from about 70 sun spots at 1900AD to near-180 sun spots at 1950AD correlates with +0.25 C.

    According to the IPCC AR4 Report (Fig. TS5) the solar factor accounts for 0.06 – 0.30 Watt/m2 (less than 0.2C) rise since 1750AD. NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Science indicates total solar irradiance variations of +/-0.3 Watt/m2 (~0.2C) since 1980. Solar variations can not account for the sharp temperature rise since 1960, a period during which sun spot activity oscillated (correlated with +/-0.1 degrees C), hardly consistent with the +0.7 degrees C rise induced by CO2 rise from 315 to 387 ppm.

    Another parameter of global warming is the intensification in the frequency and intensity of the ENSO cycle (El-Nino Southern Oscillation) (Power and Smith, Geophys. Res. Lett., 2007), expressed by cyclic surface warming up to 2 degrees C in the central Pacific, with a peak in 1998, affecting droughts in the southern continents.”

    Yes, our measurements are not perfect, but they are pretty good and constantly improving (and need more resources).

    Warning, this following section really links to other threads (and I apologise in advance for being a bit slack in not tracing them down), so ignore if you are only interested in temp measurement methods.
    ———————————————————————————————————————————————————

    The US and Australia are ‘odd ball’ climates. The US is a ‘climate magnifier’ (ref: Tim Flannery), Australia, the “canary in the mine”, at the mercy of the ENSO cycle. Even tiny changes in sea temps mean that we boil. Sitting here in a record breaking 43C despite being in a cool La Nina cycle, with large parts of our most important agricultural areas now in a 12 year drought (and counting), and only 36% of water reserves left, you don’t find many ordinary people that are climate skeptics. We live it. SE Australia is so close to edge of habitability that even tiny changes make a huge difference.

    Climate change is happening now (species are moving, birds, plants, insects, fish, marine plants, etc), and one, very important affect is that variability increases. Bigger storms, sometimes more often, huge temp shifts in a short time …all symptoms. All that extra energy in the sea/atmosphere systems has to go somewhere.

    Ok the US is freezing this year, next year you could easily boil, but increases in variability is just as (perhaps even more) damaging that steady increases in average temps. Me, I care about Oz first and foremost and we are right on the front line on this, drought here, disastrous floods there (it is a very big country – continent). Tiny changes that (say) the US does not notice is the difference between whether we can feed ourselves or not.

    Maybe when California runs out of water, or the mid west becomes a huge dust bowl, or even the US has to import food? Now there is a thought, all within probabilities and extrapolations of current trends.

    Me? I’m risk adverse (except for the very calculated ones of course, I do scuba dive or take suckers money at poker) and this does not look like a bet I want to take, especially when the pay off is reduced oil and (depending on where you are) gas & coal imports.

    And then there is the extreme probabilities .. and those are total disastesr. James Lovelock, in “One last chance to save mankind“, New Scientist 29 January, is saying (my paraphrased summary): We are to stupid to deal with this problem, despite our obvious scientific and technological capability to do so. So we will experience the great ‘die off’ of the human population later this century, when the population drops to 1 billion”, (my aside that is within the lifespan of anyone under 30).

    Now I really, really hope he is wrong, and it is just (roughly) a 1% chance from what data I examine (then again the methane increases in Siberia are worrying) … but I don’t like that bet, me I like to avoid, ‘dissolve’ problems before we hit them, especially when solving one problem .. also solves another issue as well ( like going broke buying oil).
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    Fabius Maximus replies: We’ve gone over most of this before. I’ll just point out one example to illustrate my objection to this comment. None of the articles cited on this site about the influence of solar dynamics on Earth’s climate discuss ” luminescence effect of solar magnetic storms (sun spots) on the Earth surface” as a driver. (It’s not my field, but I doubt this theory plays any significant role in the climate science debate)

    The basis for the relationship of solar activity and Earth’s climate is (as I understand it):
    (1) A strong historical correlation.
    (2) The causal basis is not known; changes in rate of cloud nucleation is one of the current explanations under study.

    Section 5 of the FM reference page on Science and Nature gives full citations and links for few dozen articles, a tiny fraction of this literature.

  7. FM: “The public policy recommendations of this Administration could have major implications for the rate of US economic growth for the next generation.”

    Seneca: “You reply that massive changes in energy use will radically impact/harm the economy and our standard of living.”

    On re-reading the entire post and comments, the above is the best I could do to support my claim that you fear that embracing the AGW position will have “major” impacts on the American economy. I am certain that you have said it even more clearly in previous posts. And it’s a reasonable statement to make. Attempting to move from a carbon-based economy will obviously have profound impacts on our way of life. Among others, plummeting home values in distant suburbs as commuting by private vehicle becomes a thing of the past.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: If that’s the best you can do, I believe a retraction is in order. My statement was a general one, which I doubt anyone could honestly disagree with. It does not even state a direction for the impact — accellerate or decellerate growth. I find your characterization of my statement misleading if not actually dishonest.

    That you are “certain {I} have said it even more clearly” does not impress me given your previous comments. {FM: bold emphasis added}

    Such as your confidence that I was incorrect about the fraction of household (citizens) without medical insurance. I cited Census figures; you have not responded.

    You then said “Somehow, that statement has the stamp of the same thought factory that claims that polar ice isn’t melting.” Which was wrong, as the polar ice is not melting (south growing to offset the north shrinking). I cited the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Illinois (here), one of the leading authorities in this field. Again, you have not responded.

    These things can be debated, but you evidently prefer to use other tactics.

  8. “attempts to play scientist”? I could be unreasonable. But I wont. Instead I’ll stand by my arguments, flawed and imperfect as they are. And make my apologies when I go ‘over the line’ .. heck no one is perfect, least of all me.

    But this is a great site, where else can you simultaneously argue about economics and 4GW?

    And I remind everyone that I was the first person (I think only) to leap to FM’s defence when he was subjected to unreasonable abuse.

    This is a great discussion site about important issues, lets keep it this way.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: I have a compromise.

    (1) Use quotations when replying.

    (2) Don’t waste your “scientists are ignorant” homilies on us, explaining that these scientists are not ust wrong but ignorant, since high school science disproves so much climate literature. Make a difference by sending letters to these journals for publication! It will make a change (from their usual debates about technical issues) to learn that these authors don’t understand the fundamentals of their own fields (see here and here). To capture the spirit of your comment, open with “Dear fools:”.

    For a start, section 5 of the FM reference page on Science and Nature gives full citations and links for a dozen or so articles. Here are a few names from that list to help you start. Keep us posted on your success!

    * Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics
    * Physical Review Letters
    * Proceedings of the Royal Society A
    * Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia
    * Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research
    * Journal of Geophysical Research

    To repeat my position (since you seem unable to state it correctly):
    * Climate science today grapples with issues on the edge of the available data’s “resolving power”, on the edge of theory about the complex workings of terrestial and solar dynamics.
    * There are at least 2 sides to most facets of this debate.
    * More time and effort — and better organization — is needed to produce conclusions of sufficient reliability for public policy action.
    * We have to work fast, as the issues are vital.

    Meanwhile, the FM site will continue reporting on the debate. Its readers and I sit on the sidelines, eagerly awaiting your appearance on the playing field.

  9. A new paper in Nature has received massive press attention (more adulation than journalism), as providing more proof of AGW: “Warming of the Antarctic ice-sheet surface since the 1957 International Geophysical Year”, Steig, E.J., D.P. Schneider, S.D. Rutherford, M.E. Mann, J.C. Comiso, and D.T. Shindell. Nature, January 2009, pp 459-462. (Abstract here)

    Here Oldskeptic has strongly praised it.

    “The latest, Antarctic results have come from a newer, and yes better, methodology, incorporating the only real data source that covers the whole World, satellites.” (source)

    “Note that Nature is a premier, peer reviewed scientific journal, if they could not prove their work it would not have been published.” (source)

    The latter assurance is a bit odd, since it appears that the code and data is not yet fully archived. In several past major climate science articles this has meant that even the reviewers did not see this vital information.

    So far investigation has been made of one station in the network used, discovering that it was seriously defective. Steve McIntyre posted about the error at 4:41 pm EST on February 1 (Super Bowl Sunday). The British Arctic Survey (BAS) corrected the error on Monday morning — without, of course, crediting McIntyre for catching the error. (source)

    This ignited a somewhat incoherent, defensive, and vituperative series of replies on RealClimate. See here and here.

    It is fun to watch the messy process of science in action. No conclusions yet, but this bust in the first cursory coverage is not a good indicator of the study’s quality.

    Note that initial coverage include some cautionary notes, overlooked by true believers. Such as…

    “‘This looks like a pretty good analysis, but I have to say I remain somewhat skeptical,’ Kevin Trenberth, climate analysis chief at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, said in an e-mail. “It is hard to make data where none exist.” (AP)

    Roger Pielke Sr also had some questions, posted at his website. He is emeritus professor of the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State U. See his Wikipedia entry for more information.

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