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The Pointlesseness of Climate Data

Brett Anderson of Accuweather links to a Nov 5, 2008 Earth Observatory article by Rebecca Lindsey, “Correcting Ocean Cooling“, examining how Josh Willis “determined that there were errors” in his “Recent Cooling of the Upper Ocean” work.

(both the 2007 correction and 2006 original are available at this link)

Brett explains that:

“After applying a correction, the historical record shows a relatively steady increase (ocean heat content) in line with what’s shown by climate models”

I am sorry but it does sound fishy that all the hard digging was done only because the data were too cool. One is left with the lingering feeling that no such an effort ever materializes for data that shows warming (talk about WARMING BIAS there…)

And in fact: taking the Earth Observatory article at face value, one can indeed figure out the real reason behind Willis’ revisiting of his original data. At the time of publication of the original article (2006):

Willis described the [original] results as a “speed bump” on the way to global warming

Apparently, he soon convinced himself his data was not right. In February 2007, Willis said to his wife:

“I think ocean cooling isn’t real”

Why? Because:

In fact, every body was telling me I was wrong

And what was Willis’ own “tipping point”?

It wasn’t until that next year of data came in that the cooling in the Atlantic became so large and so widespread that Willis accepted the cooling trend for what is was: an unambiguous sign that something in the observations was “clearly not right.”

In all likelihood, had the original data shown warming, and/or the “next year of data” shown widespread warming, few if anybody would have told Willing that he was “wrong“. Chances are he would not have re-analysed anything at all.

The real irony can be extracted from the end of the EO piece:

We need multiple, independent, overlapping sets of observations of climate processes from space and from the Earth’s surface so that we can create long-term climate records—and have confidence that they are accurate. We need theories about how the parts of the Earth system are related to each other so that we can make sense of observations. And we need models to help us see into the future.

But for years, Willis has been stressing that

Argo data show no warming in the upper ocean over the past four years, but this does not contradict the climate models

Now, obviously the corrected data do “not contradict the climate models” either.

And so it really does look like there is no need for “multiple, independent, overlapping sets of observations“. Any and every data is always unable to “contradict the climate models“.

Why do people still bother to measure anything related to climate when the end result is pre-ordained, one wonders.

  1. Douglas Hoyt
    2008/11/18 at 13:25

    Measurements can be used to confirm or refute a hypothesis. If the measurements are adjusted, then all that can said is that the hypothsis is “not proven”.

    Until climatologists make good and unadjusted measurements for a long time (greater than 30 years), nothing is proven or should be accepted as true.

  2. Luke Warmer
    2008/11/17 at 12:41

    The following paper was one of the first to show how experimenter expectations could bias observations and hence results:

    The effect of experimenter bias on the performance of the albino rat” (1963), Rosenthal & Fode.

    A summary of it and related things is at:

    But despite the wrong motivation, I don’t think we should throw too many aspersions at this individual as others have done. It’s not as if warming oceans confirm AGW.

    As you say, though, it’s evidence of how the warmist mindset is only looking for confirmatory evidence. but it could (and has) been said that we are only looking for contrary evidence.

    This wouldn’t be a problem (and would be real science) if the major culprit (and exogenous factor from any other controversy in science) the IPPC didn;t exist. The IPPC only selects the warming evidence, reinforcing the whole thing by influencing politicians and funding bodies as well as the scientists themselves. A kind of Maxwell’s demon.

  1. 2009/02/09 at 00:03
  2. 2008/11/23 at 08:54

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