Really Sciency

Visit my other blog 'Really Sciency' looking at Climate Science and its portrayal, misrepresentation and denial in the media.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Goddard: Tampering With Data All Over The Planet

Of course that's Steve Goddard, from the Orwellian named Real Science, and nothing to do with NASA’s Goddard space centre.

Unfortunately Mr. Goddard doesn’t do very well with graphs. We have seen it on Really Sciency before, (still waiting for the correction), and his latest howlers were when he posted the animated .gif below;

Goddard uses this to make the claim;
 “Hansen has been deleting cooling trends all over the planet.”, “He has erased historical cooling trends (blue) in North America, South America, Africa, the Arctic, Antarctica, and elsewhere.”
And very helpfully draws little red rings around the areas he mentions. What he has discovered is shocking! The chilly light blue areas have suddenly become a less chilly looking white. Oh the humanity! Surely this is proof of tampering, proof of erasing cooling trends?

Hang on a moment, what about those very angry looking dark red areas on the same image as the blue (the ones he rather conveniently doesn't draw little red rings around), – haven’t those become a less warm orange? Drat those pesky scientists, (Hansen specifically), they have gone and erased the hot, hot, hot areas, clearly they are erasing warming trends as well! Drat and double drat.

Below I have included the maps as separate images for easy comparison;

But wait – the maps use the same colours but at the bottom they use different scales - Actually Goddard knows this because almost as a foot note he does say;
The color scales are shifted, but the legends are located below the maps – and you can see that the values have changed.”

The first thing that should ring alarm bells with any true sceptic is that Goddard  thinks comparing two maps with different scales is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. Who with any inkling of science and an idea to communicate would even let such a notion cross their mind and publish such shoddy work as a credible evaluation? Well Steven Goddard obviously.

The second thing is his preoccupation with his own bias. If he is right to be concerned, and cooling trends are really being ‘erased’, then why does this concern not extend to warming trends being erased as well?

Well the truth is obvious, Goddard has his answer and is trying to get ‘facts’ to convince himself and others it is right, instead of looking at all the facts and drawing a rational conclusion from them. If he was an honest man, even believing he's right, he would be as concerned for the changes at both ends of the scale, not just the bits he thought made an anti-AGW case. That is why he will always be prone to cherry picking and making howlers such as the ones I will show below.

So the only question that remains; Is Goddard correct about trends (at either end) being erased?

Goddard actually gives a specific example to reinforce his case;
“The circle over Africa has changed from a -0.5C to -0.3C cooling trend, into a warming trend.”
I can’t see exactly where he got these figures from. The cool area circled over Africa in the first map ranges from around -0.5 to +0.1. In the second map the cool area ranges from around -0.2 to +0.5, so the values are slightly different even if they are not the values Goddard works it out at.

An easier area to work out is the circled U.S. area. It goes from -0.5 to -0.1 in the first map to -0.2 to +0.2 in the second map.

But doesn’t that make Goddard correct about erasing trends? They are different in each map after all. Well all that really depends on if these maps are really showing the same data.

Goddard gives links to where he got the maps from. The second is straight forward; it is the GISS Surface Temperature Analysis using GHCN v3.

The first map however is over 12 years old. Goddard gets if from a brief piece on the NASA, Goddard Institute for Space Studies, web site from August 1999 about the US climate at that time. It is worth a read if only to understand how real scientists view data, not as Steve Goddard has done above, but with guarded statements, based only on what the data, and all the data, supports. Of the drought that occurred in the Eastern U.S. in 1999, Hansen and his team have this to say;

“Was the heat wave and drought in the Eastern United States in 1999 a sign of global warming?
Empirical evidence does not lend much support to the notion that climate is headed precipitately toward more extreme heat and drought. The drought of 1999 covered a smaller area than the 1988 drought, when the Mississippi almost dried up. And 1988 was a temporary inconvenience as compared with repeated droughts during the 1930s "Dust Bowl" that caused an exodus from the prairies, as chronicled in Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath.

Does this sound like a scientist prepared to ‘erase’ trends or one that admits the data does not support anthropogenic warming in the U.S. at that time?

Anyway I digress. The map Goddard uses for his ‘before’ has been taken from the article mentioned, but it is actually from a 1999  paper; 'GISS analysis of surface temperature change'; by J. Hansen, R. Ruedy, J. Glascoe, and M. Sato.

There is a lot of mapped data in this 1999 paper but you will find the one used by Hansen in the US climate article, and subsequently used by Goddard, as the first map on Plate 4.

This map is GISS Surface Temperature Analysis using GHCN v2.

Any one spot the difference? Yes, the maps are not even displaying the same data! What a silly boy Steve Goddard is. The first shows GHCN v2 and the second GHCN v3.

In November 2011 NASA switched from GHCN v2 to GHCN v3, since GHCN v2 was no longer updated. I expect that Goddard and his minions may now try and claim that the change to the new data set is proof that they altered the data. But it is clear Steve Goddard had no idea that this was the case, and certainly never thought to check where the discrepancy was - a real sceptic would.

So before they make any such claims of data alteration, they should note that this was a well documented change. There is a whole page at NASA, comparing the differences between version 2 and version 3.
And you will recognize the same kind of differences that Steve Goddard has only just managed to figure out, but without the innuendo of conspiracy or malpractice – it is there for anyone who is truly interested in finding the truth to see.

One important thing to notice is that the actual global trends are not affected in any way. The global mean change is listed as 0.43 degrees Celsius in both GHCN v2 and the modern GHCN v3.

Reto Ruedy, co author of the 1999 paper has described the advantages of GHCN v3 thus;
“For GHCN v3, NCDC developed a homogenization that is used to combine different station records for the same location as well as deal with discontinuities created by station moves, changes in instrumentation, the urban heat island effect etc. which eliminates many known and documented discontinuities still present in the unadjusted data and caused us to no longer use their unadjusted data.”
A grey area

Since Goddard's 'analysis' has been nothing but shoddy up to now we should not hold up much hope for any great revelation when he says;
"He (Hansen) also has created data in the southern hemisphere which didn’t previously exist. Note how the area of grey has shrunk."
Should we really expect that data has been 'created' or just that Mr. Goddard doesn't understand the difference in the data and would rather insinuate a grand conspiracy instead of actually finding out the truth of the matter? Sorry, but there are no prizes for picking such an obvious answer.

The change in grey area is a separate issue from not knowing the difference between GHCN v2 and GHCN v3. In 1999 NASA used the Reynolds and Smith ocean data which started in 1950, later they switched to the Hadley data since it went back to 1880 and covered a larger area. This explains the shrinking of the grey area. Again, this is not a secret only known by Hansen and a shadowy cabal of climate scientists. In Hansen's paper mentioned above, the one that the 1999 map came from, it clearly states in the Introduction;
"we also illustrate results for a global surface temperature index formed by combining our land analysis with sea surface temperature data of Reynolds and Smith [1994] and Smith et al. [1996]"

In Steve Goddard eyes, challenging him on any of this apparently makes you a “complete idiot” and “MentallyChallenged”. I wonder what, not knowing that you are comparing different data sets and then making ludicrous conspiracy type claims of malpractice, makes you? Other than someone misleading themselves and gullible others with shoddily researched pseudo-scientific nonsense that is.

Based on what I have found here, I strongly suspect that all of the posts Mr Goddard does about data being 'erased', 'created', inappropriately manipulated etc. are simply down to his ignorance about what data sets are used and the fact that he doesn't really care to find out because the truth might get in the way of his theories of conspiracy where he can make scientists like Dr. Hansen out to be some sort of bogey man.

I also strongly suspect that even if Goddard admits he didn't know that the maps were displaying different data, his published ignorance will go uncorrected, because we have seen that even his admitted errors are nor corrected at source.

There is some good news in all this. I noticed the problem with the scales immediately but when I went to comment, some others already had pointed out the same thing. Even one commenter who regularly posts supporting Goddard’s’ nonsense and often flames me stated “Actually the warmists are correct, the graphs show the same thing”, even if he went on to imply that the underlying data was garbage. But it is really heartening to see some others being truly sceptical about Goddard’s unqualified posts. I do not claim to have influenced this but there is hope that his readership is attracting more truly sceptical people, which can only be a good thing.

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