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Hot news: NASA quietly fixes flawed temperature data; 1998 was NOT the warmest year in the millenium

By Michelle Malkin  •  August 9, 2007 10:02 PM

Mind the gap.

Some big environmental news that you haven’t heard much about: NASA has revised much-publicized US temperature data that have been used to claim 1998 as a record-breaking hottest year in the millenium. Michael Asher at DailyTech reports:

My earlier column this week detailed the work of a volunteer team to assess problems with US temperature data used for climate modeling. One of these people is Steve McIntyre, who operates the site climateaudit.org. While inspecting historical temperature graphs, he noticed a strange discontinuity, or “jump” in many locations, all occurring around the time of January, 2000.

These graphs were created by NASA’s Reto Ruedy and James Hansen (who shot to fame when he accused the administration of trying to censor his views on climate change). Hansen refused to provide [McIntyre ]with the algorithm used to generate graph data, so McKintyre reverse-engineered it. The result appeared to be a Y2K bug in the handling of the raw data.

[McIntyre] notified the pair of the bug; Ruedy replied and acknowledged the problem as an “oversight” that would be fixed in the next data refresh.

NASA has now silently released corrected figures, and the changes are truly astounding. The warmest year on record is now 1934. 1998 (long trumpeted by the media as record-breaking) moves to second place. 1921 takes third. In fact, 5 of the 10 warmest years on record now all occur before World War II. Anthony Watts has put the new data in chart form, along with a more detailed summary of the events.

The effect of the correction on global temperatures is minor (some 1-2% less warming than originally thought), but the effect on the US global warming propaganda machine could be huge.

Then again– maybe not. I strongly suspect this story will receive little to no attention from the mainstream media.

McIntyre’s blog is down at the moment. (*Update*: It’s down because his work has gotten some major media attention…no, not from the MSM, but from Rush Limbaugh.) His work on this is extraordinary and hopefully the website will be back up. (Another update: McIntyre also debunked the famous “hockey stick” analysis linking human activity to global warming, which turned out to be an artifact of poor mathematics.) In the meantime, see Anthony Watts, who walks you through McIntyre’s findings and adds some helpful charts:

Steve McIntyre, of Toronto operates www.climateaudit.org and began to investigate the data and the methods used to arrive at the results that were graphed by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS).

What he discovered was truly amazing. Since NASA does not fully publish the computer source code and formulae used to calculate the trends in the graph, nor the correction used to arrive at the “corrected” data. He had to reverse engineer the process by comparing the raw data and the processed data.

Here is one of his first posts where he begins to understand what is happening. “This imparts an upward discontinuity of a deg C in wintertime and 0.8 deg C annually. I checked the monthly data and determined that the discontinuity occurred on January 2000 – and, to that extent, appears to be a Y2K problem. I presume that this is a programming error.”

He further refines his argument showing the distribution of the error, and the problems with the USHCN temperature data. He also sends an email to NASA GISS advising of the problem.

He finally publishes it here, stating that NASA made a correction not only on their own web page, attributing the discovery to McIntyre, but NASA also issued a corrected set of temperature anomaly data which you can see here.

Bottom line:

According to the new data published by NASA, 1998 is no longer the hottest year ever. 1934 is. Four of the top 10 years of US CONUS high temperature deviations are now from the 1930s: 1934, 1931, 1938 and 1939, while only 3 of the top 10 are from the last 10 years (1998, 2006, 1999). Several years (2000, 2002, 2003, 2004) fell well down the leaderboard, behind even 1900. (World rankings of temperature are calculated separately.)

In other words: Four of the top ten are in the 1930’s, before mainstream scientists believe humans had any discernible impact on temperatures.

Noel Sheppard wonders: “As global warming is such a key issue being debated all around this country and on Capitol Hill, wouldn’t such a change by the agency responsible for calculating such things be important to disseminate? When this correction was made by Hansen’s team at the GISS, shouldn’t it have been reported? In fact, it is quite disgraceful that it wasn’t, as it suggests that a government agency is actually participating in a fraud against the American people by withholding information crucial to a major policy issue now facing the nation. Think this will be Newsweek’s next cover-story? No, I don’t either.”


More reax on the James Hansen factor:

Ace: “So James Hansen, who claimed Bush was politicizing Global Warming, refused to provide his algorithms to other researchers so they could simply check his work, hiding his own errors from them and distorting the science he claims to care about oh-so-much until some persistent researchers went to the great trouble of reconstructing his algorithms themselves. Fire him. Immediately.”

Bryan Preston at Hot Air: “The discontinuity in the data should have been a serious red flag for Hansen et al, but what we’re probably seeing here is the effect of personality and agenda on the scientific process. They assumed they were right, and either discounted or didn’t even notice the discontinuity that occurred at 2000. When I say that personality had an effect, here’s what I mean by that. After Hansen became the most famous “silenced” scientist since Galileo and particularly since he was battling Bush, he became a titan to the vast majority of the people I worked with in the earth science field at NASA (an admittedly small slice of that field, but also the top couple of echelons of it at the Goddard Space Flight Center). Questioning him in any way invited hostile stares and could limit a career. When I say that agenda played a role, if you ever manage to get onto the GSFC and find yourself outside any of the couple of earth science buildings, take note of the bumper stickers on most of the cars. They’re faded and pealing and say in big, bold letters “Dean for President.”

Small Dead Animals has more.

From Rush’s show earlier today, with a sharp tie-in to Newsweek’s alarmist cover this week on global warming:


So Steve McIntyre, who lives in Toronto, began to investigate the data and the methods used to arrive at the results that were graphed by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. What he discovered was amazing. NASA doesn’t fully publish computer source code and formula they use to calculate the trends and the graph I have here nor the correction used to arrive at the correct data. So we had to reverse engineer the process by comparing the raw data and the processed data. And the bottom line is, that 1998 is no longer — you can say NASA made a reporting error or did they make a reporting error? Did they do this on purpose? How long have they known that it was erroneous and haven’t corrected it? But the bottom line of this is that 1998 is no longer the hottest year on record. Four of the top ten hottest years on record are from the 30s: 1934, 1931, 1938 and 1939 while only three of the top ten warmest years on record are from the last ten years, ’98, 2006 and 1999. Well, you might say, “So what? What does this matter, Rush?”

Well, when 1934 was the hottest year on record, and NASA may know about it and doesn’t correct the data, and when a guy named James Hansen involved in all this, who is a political activist, then you have to figure there is a reason why they want 1998 continue to be reported as the warmest year on record. And voila, from a soon-to-be released Reuters story, “A study forecasts that global warming will set in with a vengeance after 2009, with at least half of the five following years expected to be hotter than 1998, which was the warmest year on record.” So ladies and gentlemen, what do we have here? We have proof of man-made global warming. The man-made global warming is inside NASA. The man-made global warming is in the scientific community with false data. This is irresponsible. This is supposedly scientific data. It is unchallengeable. It is inarguable. And it’s bogus. I don’t know how long they’ve known it. I don’t know if they intend to correct it or not. I doubt you’ll hear anything about this, other than this program. The Drive-By Media, this is not going to interest them. “Oh, Rush, irrelevant footnote. Everybody knows that global warm is happening out there.” All right, well, you see how this works.

…Newsweek has this story, current issue, that is the most irresponsible, one sided, no science in it, where they go after the global warming deniers. The use of the term deniers, global warming is on purpose. Holocaust deniers and so forth. It has gotten so bad here, I tell you what the Newsweek thing means. It means we are winning the debate…

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