Will The Real Temperature Please Stand Up!
January 31, 2010Posted by on
Many a moon ago (just last November) I finally decided to look at some temperature records myself. For many years due to what I learned at Naval Nuclear Power School I had some serious reservations about the “science” behind CAGW, but never looked. Well along came Climategate and all that and finally I went and taught myself how to use the spreadsheet program in Open Office and started looking. Well the first question was were to start looking and for a beginner to keep it simple. So I found the NASA GISS site and decided to get the data for State College Pa. The reason I picked that locale was fairly simple: It’s a University that maintains a station in the NASA Station list, and it being a University you could reasonably expect that it should have a good record that would require little QC on it. On top of that I knew the area due togrowing up not too far away. So I got the data, I looked up to see where the thermometers are located, I found that there had been a station move (from a grassy area to the roof of a building) but nothing too major. So the GISS adjusted data shouldn’t have needed a lot of work right? Right? WRONG! Here is the graph of what I found when I compared the input data (“raw”) to the adjusted out put data:
So that left me scratching my head. How can you go from a cooling trend to a warming trend? I could see no reason for such a radical adjustment. Thats when I noticed that GISS doesn’t really use “raw” data. They use data from two different databases, one called GHCN and the the other USHCN. GHCN has a few US stations (including State College) and the data from stations from all over the world. USHCN has the data from over 1200 US stations (including State College). So I decided to take a look at GHCN “raw” and adjusted to see if either one looked like the input to GISS. Well I noticed a few things right off the bat. One there was data from before the GISS start date, but that isn’t a real big problem. Second there was no data after 2005 in GHCN for State College. Thats a problem because GISS has data for 2006 to 2008, so I assumed the data has to come from USHCN. So I went and got the USHCN data and looked. Well it has the same start date as the GISS data and it has the data from 2006 to 2008, but there was a problem here as well: missing data. From 1973 to 75 there is no data, same for the years 84, 91 and 2000. So I decided to plot them all together and this is what I got:
Argh not a one matches the GISS “raw” data completely. There is one more USHCN dataset for me to try but the thing is the file hasn’t been updated since June of 2009, where as the USHCN “raw” and TOB’s adjusted datasets are up to Dec 2009. The funny thing is GHCN and USHCN are both managed by the same agency: The National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). You would think that the data in one set would match the other, but they don’t. Then I found another database maintained by the NCDC that has PDF files of the original paper work turned in by the station (presumably) in those databases. I have started to transcribe them into the spreadsheet but it is slow going (got about 80 years worth of data to go) however here is how it compares to GHCN and USHCN “raw” for the years I do have in (Note some of the years are back at 1895 and others are at 2008 going in the other direction):
What you thought it would match one of the raw datasets? Get real this is climate science where things are murky.