As James Delingpole, in the Telegraph, noted Wednesday:
Climategate just got much, much bigger. And all thanks to the Russians who, with perfect timing, dropped this bombshell just as the world’s leaders are gathering in Copenhagen to discuss ways of carbon-taxing us all back to the dark ages.
On Tuesday, we heard via the Ria Novosti agency that the Moscow-based Institute of Economic Analysis (IEA) issued a report claiming that the Hadley Center for Climate Change had probably tampered with Russian-climate data:
The IEA believes that Russian meteorological-station data did not substantiate the anthropogenic global-warming theory. Analysts say Russian meteorological stations cover most of the country’s territory, and that the Hadley Center had used data submitted by only 25% of such stations in its reports. Over 40% of Russian territory was not included in global-temperature calculations for some other reasons, rather than the lack of meteorological stations and observations.
The data of stations located in areas not listed in the Hadley Climate Research Unit Temperature UK (HadCRUT) survey often does not show any substantial warming in the late 20th century and the early 21st century.
The HadCRUT database includes specific stations providing incomplete data and highlighting the global-warming process, rather than stations facilitating uninterrupted observations. They concluded climatologists use the incomplete findings of meteorological stations far more often than those providing complete observations and data from stations located in large populated centers that are influenced by the urban-warming effect more frequently than the correct data of remote stations.
Imagine a paint-by-numbers kit with 12 colors of the spectrum — from purple and blue, green to yellow, orange and red, each numbered. When you finish coloring the areas in the coloring book or canvas with the appropriate color number, you have a color painting for the fridge.
Suppose you got a version with only the number 1 and 2 colors marked. You have the colors — but what you end up with is a patchwork of two colors on a white background, with lines defining other areas. You could guess about the other colors, but the end result may not be what the original creator had in mind.
Believe it or not, this very simple analogy applies to the claims of global warming.
In the climate change map of the world, where the Earth is depicted as flat (and skeptics are called flat-earthers, naturally) and with a latitude/longitude grid as the “to be colored” areas, the purples and blues represent cold temperatures and yellows, oranges, and reds represent warm. It appears the stations chosen in Russia were those that were likely to be warmer — reds and oranges. Further, with no information on what color to use for the areas where stations were ignored, guesses were made to fill in the empty grid boxes by extrapolating only from the warmer subset of stations.
More reds and oranges.
Partners in Crime: NOAA and NASA Complicit
Russia was not the only area that underwent cherry-picking, nor is CRU the only cherry-picker.
NOAA’s global climate database (GHCN) — according to CRU’s Phil Jones in the following email — mirrors the CRU data under attack:
Almost all the data we have in the CRU archive is exactly the same as in the Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN) archive used by the NOAA National Climatic Data Center.
And NASA uses the GHCN, applying their own adjustments, as we reported in this story:
Perhaps one of the biggest issues with the global data is station dropout after 1990. Over 6000 stations were active in the mid-1990s. Just over 1000 are in use today. The stations that dropped out were mainly rural and at higher latitudes and altitudes — all cooler stations. This alone should account for part of the assessed warming. China had 100 stations in 1950, over 400 in 1960, then only 25 by 1990. This changing distribution makes any assessment of accurate change impossible.
We now know that the Russian station count dropped from 476 to 121, meaning “over 40% of Russian territory was not properly included in global-temperature calculations for some other reasons, rather than the lack of meteorological stations and observations.”
In the IEA report, there is a chart showing CRU’s selective use of 25% of the Russian data created 0.64C more warming than was exhibited by using 100% of the raw data. Given the huge area Russia represents (11.5% of global land surface area), this significantly affects global land temperatures.
We know from the maps that NASA produces — produced using NOAA GHCN data — that Canada is largely missing. As is Greenland. The Arctic. Much of Africa. Brazil. And parts of Australia. (See this post.)
To fill in these large holes, data was extrapolated from great distances away. Often the data came from lower latitude, lower elevation, and higher population centers. In addition to station dropout, the number of missing months increased by as much as tenfold in many of the remaining areas. This required filling in of data from surrounding stations, again sometimes considerable distances away from the missing location. Another opportunity for error, if not mischief.
These gaps allowed the data centers to extrapolate the data from the warm spots to the missing data grids, or to blend the warm stations with the fewer remaining cooler ones.
More reds and oranges.
There was indeed a global warming period from 1979 to 1998, thanks to the natural cycles of the oceans and sun — which had produced a similar warming from around 1920 to 1940, and a cooling from the 1940s to the late 1970s. In the adjustments made by all the data centers, they cooled off the 1930s and 1940s warm blip by adjusting land and ocean temperatures down, and elevated the late 20th century and this decade.
Even with that, a cooling trend has been observed since 2001.
They applied no correction for urban growth or spread, which can produce an artificial but very localized warming (see recent Georgia Tech release here). And in the United States, Anthony Watts — in a volunteer survey of over 1000 of the 1221 instrument stations — had found 89% were poorly or very poorly sited, using NOAA’s own criteria. This resulted in a warm bias of over 1 degree C (earlier analysis here).
A few preliminary surveys in other parts of the world indicate the U.S. is not alone.
Satellites have measured global temperatures since 1979, and have shown warming. Originally the satellites were in close agreement with the data centers’ global numbers, but gradually the data centers have diverged and are now approaching 0.5 degrees Celsius (see this post).
Given all this manipulation and cherry-picking, you should ignore the press releases that will undoubtedly be coming from NOAA (when they return from snowy, cold Copenhagen), NASA, and Hadley about how this has been among the warmest years, and how the last decade was the warmest on record.
There indeed has been man-made global warming — but it’s from the paint-by-numbers men and women at NOAA, NASA, and Hadley … and now, just like that, it’s gone.