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July 16, 2010

Question Authority

Stealing from the Liberal-Socialist-Commie mantra chanted regularly at every Anti-[insert your favorite Republican Administration here] rally… 

We need to “Question Authority” a bit more when it comes to data, and articles used to advance a cause.  In this world where everything seems presented from a political stance, including science, we need, now more than ever, a stable set of data-points.

Many may have seen this article Posted today in most Media outlets:

NOAA: June, April to June, and Year-to-Date Global Temperatures are Warmest on Record

Last month’s combined global land and ocean surface temperature made it the warmest June on record and the warmest on record averaged for any April-June and January-June periods, according to NOAA. Worldwide average land surface temperature was the warmest on record for June and the April-June period, and the second warmest on record for the year-to-date (January-June) period, behind 2007.


The monthly analysis from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, which is based on records going back to 1880, is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides government, business and community leaders so they can make informed decisions.

It’s that last part that is truly important here… “NOAA provides government, business and community leaders so they can make informed decisions.”

All the more reason to “GET IT RIGHT!”   That is indeed a scary looking map… But, in what many will not read today, because it doesn’t meet the Mainstream Media’s filtered lens, one of the NOAA Weather Stations’ Official  Observers , Dr. Richard Keen has a bit of a problem with this report.

“NOAA’s calculation of the global temperature is based on their analysis of departures at 2000 or so grid points.  One of those points included my weather station at Coal Creek Canyon, Colorado, a location with no UHI or other troublesome influences.  The NOAA map of June anomalies for the US, based on an unknown selection of stations, has Coal Creek sitting on the +4F contour.”

“The Coal Creek record is long enough to calculate 30-year normals, and June 2010 comes in at +1.0F above normal.”

That’s 3 degrees less than the NOAA estimate for the same location, which is the difference between June being in the top 3 or being in the middle third.  Now, this is simply a spot check of one of NOAA’s 2000 grid points, but it leads to the question of how far off are the other grid points?

Dr. Richard Keen

That’s a spot check from a guy who’s data they are supposed to be using!  There is an immediate integrity problem with this data.  But, I’m sure you won’t be hearing this voice from the wilderness on CNN.

On a related note: 

Joe D’Aleo, meterologist and co-founder of The Weather Channel, says,

“…too many of the weather stations NOAA uses are in warmer urban areas.

"The only reliable data set right now is satellite," D'Aleo says.

He says NASA satellite data shows the average temperature in June was 0.43 degrees higher than normal. NOAA says it was 1.22 degrees higher.”

Hmmm almost a 300% difference (error) in the data. who do we believe?  I guess the answer lies in what party you’re registered with. 

Scientific method where are you when we need you?

July 16, 2010 in Politics, Science, Weather | Permalink


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Having taken an advanced statistics class in college you also, need to know how they calculated because that can effect the outcome as well. As my teacher said, statistics do not lie, however, liar's use statistics. You need to know the difference.

Posted by: jmotorhead | Jul 22, 2010 5:13:31 PM

Not the first time I've heard something like this. There was an even more egregious example in Australia, where the only station in a 500km radius was "adjusted" to match the trend of the other stations. Yeah, totally makes sense.

OTOH, there are sites that claim the urban heat island is bogus.

Personally, I've given up. Basically everyone is claiming that the other side is lying, and that the other side is lying about our side lying, rinse/repeat ad nauseum. I have no way to disentangle it short of evaluating the data myself, which I'm not qualified to do.

Posted by: Brian R | Jul 16, 2010 6:23:30 PM


I don't entirely disagree with you, except with one point, (while right now you and I may be debating the color of a rain drop) I'll concede that pinpointing a location on this small of a map is an exercise in extremes of standard deviation, but on this particular image (once clicked on) I am of the inkling that the "X" is nearer the 4-6 delineation than the 0-2 band. which based on your pretense would make this "Just Wrong" ;-)

Either way, I would like the scientific community to find a set of accepted data points... analyzed using the scientific method, to use for all reports. I'm inclined to agree with many scientists (not even those aligned with the "Skeptic" community) that also call into question using NOAA reporting stations that are in urban areas where extremely acute conditions can affect the data erroneously. (Seriously some are at the departure ends of Jet runways!). I do think using the satellite data is a more fair average.

Posted by: J. Carmichael | Jul 16, 2010 3:22:02 PM

Spin is always entertaining.

Note that the "X" is in an area that, according to the chart, is in the 2-4 degree range. To make his point, the author calls the this "4 degree contour" and therefore claims that the data is off by 3 degrees. But it's clear that the labels are on the edges of the color bands (thus each color represents a range). So in reality, it's off by only 1-3 degrees. And frankly, that "X" isn't all that for away from the 0-2 degree band, which would be just right.

No approximate curve is going to accurately represent every point.

Posted by: Dave | Jul 16, 2010 2:55:02 PM

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