Thursday, February 11, 2010

Unpremeditated Global Warming

(This is a slightly cleaned up version of part of an email I sent to a friend. Since I wrote him there has been a dust-up about the China temperature stations which makes what I want even more important so I keep thinking I should take what I wrote to him, clean it up, insert the appropriate hyperlinks, and post it. That’s not happening anytime soon so I decided to just post my raw thoughts and spiff them up later if I have the time and inclination. Voila.)

Although I find the dumped East Anglia CRU emails discomforting, my real problem is with the Harry_Read_Me document and the code files. I did not slog through all of them and my Fortran days are far behind me but my heart bleeds for this poor programmer. At the same time, if his comments are accurate there is no way the data at East Anglia can possibly be the basis for anything. Never mind what the climate models are doing in predictive terms - the data are clearly being tortured to make them confess to the crimes of which their jailers suspect them.

I've never had any problem with adjusting raw temperature data. The usual example justifying it is the problem of the urban heat island: a temperature station near a growing metropolis will show higher temps just because there are more people, there is more concrete, there are more cars, buildings, etc. So of course any reputable scientist would attempt to control for that by adjusting temps downward as the urban sprawl sprawls. However, there are three problems with what I'm now reading about the raw temp adjustments.

First, a fair number of them appear to be adjusted up. I know there can be good reasons for this but I'm now very curious about how many temps were adjusted up and how many were adjusted down.

Second, I keep hearing that temp stations are disappearing from the world temp averages. I read more than a year ago that most of the interior of Canada was gone. Russia seems to fade in and out. In California, I read that the temp stations moved to the beach. I would very much like to see how much difference inclusion of the disappearing stations makes in the current numbers. (I'm giving the GWists the benefit of the doubt by assuming that if a temp station is no longer included in today's global temp calcs it is also excluded from the calcs on temps 50 years ago. If not, we should really just shoot them all and be done with it.)

Third, I always figured there was some formula for making adjustments to raw temperature. Population growth of x% means we adjust temps by y degrees. A temp station moved x meters higher means we adjust temps by y degrees. And so on. However, based on the info coming out of the data dump plus such distressing matters as the unseemly fight over the Darwin Airport adjustments, I now fear that there is no formula for adjustments but rather they are done based on the whim - or, if you prefer, gut level feeling - of the adjuster.

So here's what I'd like to see:

Raw temperatures for all land measurements for as long as we have them broken out into individual measurement stations. And by individual, I mean one station, no moves, no physical changes. If the station in Sydney started at the harbor, that's Sydney-1. When it gets a little sunscreen it becomes Sydney-2. When it moves 300 meters higher up, that's Sydney-3. And so on. The next column in the spreadsheet should contain the adjusted temperatures. The next column in the spreadsheet should explain how the adjustment was calculated. I would be overjoyed if that column always said, "Reference Rule #x for the algorithm".

My understanding is that atmospheric temp measurements are also adjusted so I'd like to see the same thing for those. And although I haven't paid much attention to them, if the ocean measurements (Argos?) are adjusted, I'd like to see the same thing for them. This should all be trivial to do and would go a long way toward reassuring people like me about what's going on inside those black boxes that claim the earth has gotten warmer. The greatest tragedy of the East Anglia data dump will be if the the most alarmist AAGWers turn out to be right and yet their own idiocy destroys their credibility.

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