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NOAA Refuse To Publish Methodology For Temperature Adjustments

September 17, 2015

By Paul Homewood  




Shub ran this post back in March, which I missed at the time. It’s quite an eye opener:


Kent Clibze has been trying to get hold of documents that record the ‘rationale, methodology and discussions’ relating to temperature adjustments carried out by NOAA.

NOAA in turn has informed the FOI requester it needs money to comply with the request:




That’s right – NOAA whose annual budget request exceeded $5.5 billion dollars in 2015, is asking for hundreds of thousands of dollars from a private citizen to provide information. On their colourful website NOAA declares it will accomplish lots of good things with their budget ‘while maintaining strong fiscal discipline’. Perhaps this is how they do it.

The rejection letter proclaims the request amounts to work searching for information going back 30 years, as the organization collected temperature data and slathered layer upon layer of adjustment and quality-control.

Messages can’t be given because, we learn, ‘very few if any letters, phone logs, memos, and other communications on this subject would be available’. ‘Historic archived emails’ cannot be had as they are ‘expensive to access and analyze’. In fact we are told almost anything would be be too much. The schizophrenic NOAA proudly states it has been a steward of temperature data ‘for decades’ it has accumulated so much information it would be impossible to find records pertaining to temperature adjustments among them.

If ‘stewardship’ means collecting data and throwing it randomly in the backroom, sure, decades of such accumulation would be difficult to dig through. In case you had doubts ‘thrown-in-the-backroom’ is not how national agencies archive temperature and climate data this should dissuade you:


Read the rest here.

  1. Joe Public permalink
    September 17, 2015 10:22 am

    The ‘rationale and methodology ‘ should actually be in the public domain if they’ve nothing to hide.

    They’ve lumped the deterrent costs against providing the ‘discussions’-info.

  2. Keith Gugan permalink
    September 17, 2015 10:24 am

    What obfuscation! Public bodies (I include, of course, the Met Office and others) refusing to release details of their ‘adjustments’ to instrument recorded data; do they not realise all will be revealed in due course.

    A classic and transparent ploy when they are hard pressed. Reminds me so much of criminals clutching at straws when their alibis are shown to be false.

  3. September 17, 2015 10:34 am

    I wonder how much a FOI request for the methodology of arriving at the figure of $262,000 would be?
    I don’t know what the average salary of NOAA staff is, but assuming it’s $52,000 p.a., it’s equivalent to 5 man years of work, for something which should be known anyway.
    Or are they so incompetent that they are making adjustments without knowing how?
    Maybe the question was framed too broadly.

    • September 17, 2015 11:25 am

      I think it’s the result of bloated bureaucracy as per the Somerset floods…

      To justify them in its own terms, though, the EA has undergone some elaborate financial manipulation to demonstrate that reverting to “nature” is cost effective. To do so, it artificially inflates the cost of flood prevention maintenance, while downplaying the costs incurred through flooding.

      An example was given by my Drainage Board source. To dredge a 1.2-mile section of the Parrett, they got a quote of £7,500. For five miles dredging of the same river, the Environment Agency claims it will cost £4 million. By then assessing the economic cost of flooding agricultural land as zero, it is then very easy to show that flood prevention is not “cost effective”.

      Not least of the problems is the disposal of the dredged spoil. Under EU rules, it can be placed on the bank side but if it is double-handled – i.e., moved again – it becomes controlled waste and must be removed to landfill at a cost of £140 per cubic metre.

      Probably the same process here – making FOIA requests on data is not “cost effective”.

    • Joe Public permalink
      September 17, 2015 12:23 pm

      The request sought info on ‘discussions’. Inevitably that would be very labour intensive in seeking-out; to which must be added costs of redacting irrelevant but embarrassing info.

    • September 17, 2015 12:26 pm

      Actually the average salary for a NOAA staffer is probably ~$100K or a little north of that.

      Since it is obvious they do not have the adjustments well documented, the next FOIA request should be for the adjustment computer programs where the adjustments/algorithms/implementations are actually documented.

      • September 17, 2015 1:14 pm

        Only 2.5 man years then!

  4. September 17, 2015 11:52 am

    Another indication that the “scientific method” is no longer operational in science.

  5. September 17, 2015 2:18 pm

    Unreported events in Konan, Korea – during a news blackout in August-Seotember, 1945 – changed the course of world history just before nations and national academies of sciences were united on 24 October 1946. Google “Stalin’s science”

  6. Jack Enright permalink
    September 17, 2015 2:35 pm

    Back when I was still in short trousers, I moved up into a new school. Our maths master told us that, whether he set us a problem in class, for homework or in an exam, we HAD to show all working, or we would get no marks at all – even if we got the right answer.

    One lad said he thought that was unfair; “Surely,” he said, “we should get at least some marks?”

    The master replied:

    “If you don’t put your working down, in full, how am I to know that you didn’t use a completely wrong method which, by a sheer fluke, came up with the right answer? How am I to know that you didn’t just guess, and get it right? And how am I to know that you didn’t cheat?”

    If that was a reasonable expectation of an 11 year old (which it was), surely any organisation which claims to be engaged in scientific research ought to at least match those standards? If NOAA does not, then whatever ‘conclusions’ NOAA publishes are scientifically worthless.

  7. The Iceman Cometh permalink
    September 17, 2015 4:31 pm

    “The Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN) is a database of temperature, precipitation and pressure records managed by the National Climatic Data Center, Arizona State University and the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center” (Wikipedia)

    The Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center looks after the global historical climate data?? If you put the fox in charge of the henhouse, you may expect to lose a few chickens.

  8. Don Keiller permalink
    September 17, 2015 6:36 pm

    Their ‘rationale and methodology‘ amounts to keeping their politicised and unscientific methodology safe from proper external audit and verification.

  9. September 17, 2015 10:44 pm

    We don’t need their methodology. The results speak for themselves. Adjustments produce warming in most places where they are applied.

  10. Curt permalink
    September 18, 2015 12:10 am

    If it really is that expensive for them to compile the material, then they are not doing proper science in any sense. If they wanted to be able to adjust their algorithms slightly, they would need data and methods all conveniently available for their own internal use, so they can make any needed changes and document them for the next iteration.

    I get dinged in internal quality audits if I cannot show where everything is documented.

  11. Ben Vorlich permalink
    September 18, 2015 7:10 am

    NOAA claims to

    NOAA’s directives for metadata, as part of its data documentation plan, include NOAA Administrative Order 212-15 and NOAA’s Environmental Data Management Committee’s (EDMC) Data Documentation Planning Directive. The Data Documentation directive “establishes ISO 19115 Parts 1 and 2 and a recommended representation standard (ISO 19139) for documenting NOAA’s environmental data and information.”

    Now I thought that meant that if inspected by auditors specifications and procedures could be produced by a person working to those specifications and procedures very quickly. So if someone asks via an FOI request and they can’t do the same doesn’t make sense.

  12. cheshirered permalink
    September 18, 2015 9:01 am

    The adjustments to long-established data sets are absolutely fundamental to NOAA’s position on climate change. For them NOT to have those adjustments at hand in order to defend their reasoning and methodology and as a consequence the veracity of their data is literally IMPOSSIBLE, unless they choose to deliberately withhold that data.

    So they withhold for one reason only: to cover-up the illegitimacy of those adjustments. In a sane world the people responsible for this deception would be dismissed, and given they’re acting in a public role impacting government policies costing tens of $billions, they could probably expect to be explaining themselves in a court of law, too.

    But we don’t live in a sane climate world, and the deception goes as high as the greasy pole allows.

  13. September 18, 2015 5:25 pm

    The links above seem to refer to a request for ‘published monthly temperature data over the past couple of decades’ rather than the ‘rationale, methodology and discussions’. With hindsight, those past ‘published monthly temperature data’ should indeed have been archived and readily retrievable at little cost, but the reality is that hindsight is often ‘implemented’ somewhat late.

    One thing which NOAA could at least, and should, do now is bring the published code up to date. The code at dates from Oct 25 2012, which should correspond to v3.2.0, but seems to be v3.0.0, rather than the current v3.3.0

    GHCN-M (and presumably also USHCN, although I have only recently started to archive USHCN data, and so cannot be sure) adjustments to past data seem less than totally consistent, not just from version to version but also from day to day. An example. The bulletins describing version to version changes are insufficient to bring this code up to date. GHCN-M, where the complication of TOBS adjustment does not arise, would be an obvious starting point for understanding such adjustment inconsistency, but working with outdated code is a waste of time.

  14. September 18, 2015 5:30 pm

    I posted immediately just now to see how the link to the example would be handled. Many more examples of GHCN-M v3 station adjustments can be seen at my blog

  15. September 27, 2015 3:02 am

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.


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