Really Sciency

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

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Doctored Goddard

I have shown how poorly qualified Steven Goddard is to analyse climate related data but I’d like to give him the honorific of Doctored Goddard, because doctoring the data to suit his bias is what he does. Unfortunately he isn’t very good at it and much of it becomes embarrassingly obvious with just a little sceptical research. Maybe he should be Struck Off?

I have already briefly covered one of his claims and his doctored evidence in another post but it is worth a post of it’s own to examine these claims and evidence in more detail.

One of the items he listed in his 2011 Global Warming Report Card stated;
USHCN raw thermometer data shows that the US has been cooling since 1895
And he gives a link to a paper and a figure No; “The United States Historical Climatology Network Monthly Temperature Data. Version 2” by Matthew J. Menne, Claude N. Williams Jr., and Russell S. Vose
Fig. 13. Geographic distribution of linear trends in HCN version 2 temperatures for the period 1895–2007.  (b) unadjusted maximum temperatures

 What appeared on his blog is the figure on the left. Figure 13 (b) from the actual report in on the right.

The United States Historical Climatology Network (USHCN) is used to monitor and report on surface air temperature trends in the United States. The paper acknowledges climate skeptic “Anthony Watts for his considerable efforts in documenting the current site characteristics of U.S. HCN stations”. The paper itself considered the possibility of data from these stations being biased due to changes in the stations and their environments over the years. This is an important consideration as many of these stations have had updates to measuring systems and surrounding land use changes over the years that may have affected readings. (This is a different problem from the Urban Heat Island, the phenomenon where a metropolitan area in general is warmer than surrounding rural areas). After all the original intention for these measuring stations was for local weather recording and not as part of a global climate measuring system.

Mr. Watts got involved with his project by collecting pictures highlighting poorly sited stations and listing the ones in his opinion he considered good quality.

Being a denier, Watts, without any supporting evidence, assumed that any change must have given a warming bias, which he used to assert that warming wasn’t happening at the scale indicated. This ignored that other countries data and satellites showed a similar amount of warming. Watts also over looked efforts made to compensate for changes and that temperature trends were more relevant than absolute values from each station.

The paper linked by Goddard addressed all these concerns and concluded that overall there was a slight cooling bias, not a warming one, and that corrections made to the data did improve accuracy.

Now things get interesting

If we assume that Goddard isn’t intentionally trying to mislead, genuinely thinks that the US has cooled and his chart as evidence is valid, one must wonder why he chose research that is about possible bias of recording stations, NOT about temperature trends in the US. This research makes no statement about the US cooling since 1895 but indicates the opposite. I can only think of one possible series of events that led him to his erroneous conclusion.

First he incorrectly assumed that because the paper considered claims made by Watts and acknowledged him, it must be a paper sceptical of anthropogenic climate change.

But why did Goddard think that the paper even suggested the US had cooled? Clearly he totally misunderstood it. I suspect that he noticed reference to a cooling bias and though his ignorance thought this mean cooling.

He must have then reasoned he now had a paper that contradicted anthropogenic warming and showed that the US had cooled and ought to have a graph, chart, table, figure or something within it that clearly showed this. The one with the bluest, for cooling, was Fig. 13. (b).

Clearly that figure doesn’t look very impressive, there is a lot of red on it as well, so to emphasise his false conclusion he took the equivalent of a colouring pencil and shaded everything that wasn’t red bright blue! But one of the problems of cherry picking such a chart is that Figure 13 (b) only indicates Maximum temperature trends NOT average temperatures, so it is totally inappropriate to use it as evidence of overall temperature change. The actual paper states;
"Geographically, maximum temperature (Fig. 13a) has increased in most areas except in parts of the east central and southern regions. Minimum temperature (Fig. 13c) exhibits the same pattern of change, though the pockets of decreasing temperature are displaced slightly to the south and west relative to maximum temperature."

His error has been pointed out to him in the comments of the blog and he has been asked several times, now that he is aware of the misleading chart, why has he not removed it or at the very least replaced it with the chart he claims it to be? It could be that he is just too embarrassed to change anything and be seen to have made such an obvious childish and misleading error. However I’d have thought that to leave it up for all to see is far more of an embarrassment.

Perhaps I’m wrong, that is not the reason why Goddard made his cooling claim and felt justified in doctoring a graph, unrelated to temperature trends, to prove it. He knows of the Really Sciency blog and I would encourage him to explain it. Perhaps he isn’t as misinformed and so narrow minded and hell bent on fooling himself that he would leap to misrepresenting this research as I have made out. There may be another explanation but the only one I can think off is that he was aware of exactly what he was doing and deliberately doctored evidence to mislead those that follow his blog, and judging from most comments it worked as they seem as committed to denial as he. Not one ‘skeptical’ voice has been mature enough to comment that perhaps showing the chart as it appears in the research and without alterations is the very least to expect when presenting supporting evidence. One calling themselves 'suyts' even called  the  doctoring ‘some pale shading ’! I wonder what any climate change ‘skeptic’ would think if that ‘some pale shading’ looked like this;

Imagine the uproar if this was done by a climatologist, Mann or Hansen perhaps, claiming that the US has warmed since 1885, which in fact is true.

It now looks to me more like Goddard has deliberately, and with full knowledge tried to mislead. When faced with being asked why he hasn’t changed the chart he now claims that the data is ‘straight off the GISS web site’ which, since he originally linked to a paper and quoted a figure number is clearly a lie.

If there are any real sceptics over at Goddard's site then this blatant misrepresentation shown here, whether through ignorance or not, would be enough to doubt even his most basic claims and send them elsewhere for real science. I wouldn't like to say what that means for those that stay and lap these lies up.

No comments:

Post a Comment