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NASA Space Bug Science

Blogger Finds Bug in NASA Global Warming Study? 755

An anonymous reader writes "According to an article at DailyTech, a blogger has discovered a Y2K bug in a NASA climate study by the same writer who accused the Bush administration of trying to censor him on the issue of global warming. The authors have acknowledged the problem and released corrected data. Now the study shows the warmest year on record for the contiguous 48 states as being 1934, not 1998 as previously reported in the media. In fact, the corrected study shows that half of the 10 warmest years on record occurred before World War II." The article's assertion that there's a propaganda machine working on behalf of global warming theorists is outside the bounds of the data, which I think is interesting to note.
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Blogger Finds Bug in NASA Global Warming Study?

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  • Well, well, well.. (Score:5, Informative)

    by alx5000 ( 896642 ) * <alx5000.alx5000@net> on Friday August 10, 2007 @12:12PM (#20184005) Homepage

    The opinion: A link to the blog entry in question [norcalblogs.com] would have been quite on topic.

    The pun [youtube.com].

    • by dj_tla ( 1048764 ) <tbekolay@gmail.DALIcom minus painter> on Friday August 10, 2007 @12:44PM (#20184505) Homepage Journal
      Thanks for the link to the blog article. It's a lot more interesting and substantial than the somewhat embarassing DailyTech article.

      A lot of people have been criticizing the DailyTech article for the line "Then again-- maybe not. I strongly suspect this story will receive little to no attention from the mainstream media." It should be noted that the original blog entry [norcalblogs.com] does not contain this or other indications of paranoia, and attributes the people involved in the discovery.
      • Mainstream media (Score:3, Interesting)

        by nbauman ( 624611 )

        "Then again-- maybe not. I strongly suspect this story will receive little to no attention from the mainstream media."
        Like the Wall Street Journal editorial page? http://online.wsj.com/article/SB118541193645178412 .html?mod=most_emailed_week [wsj.com]
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by porcupine8 ( 816071 )
        CNN.com certainly hasn't picked it up yet - although they do have an article on the effects of climate change on backyard gardening. And the obviously faked/staged "Russian cat lady" video, important news there! I don't think you have to be paranoid to think the mainstream media is going to skip on something so non-sensationalized as a data correction that shows things being slightly less bad than before.
      • ... sometimes in fits and starts.

        This only affects U.S. data, not all the other data from around the world which also supports global warming, so it doesn't mean we're off the hook. I would heave a great sigh of relief if it did.

        This does underscore the need for transparency in all scientific methods, so that conclusions and methods can be properly tested.

        There has been considerable science done since Al Gore's movie. Some of it continues to support the conclusion that we have made changes to our atmosphere
  • Y2k? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Major Blud ( 789630 ) * on Friday August 10, 2007 @12:15PM (#20184037) Homepage
    What software were they using that wouldn't be Y2k compliant? Graph generators from the late 70's?
    • Re:Y2k? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Jarjarthejedi ( 996957 ) <christianpinch@NOsPAM.gmail.com> on Friday August 10, 2007 @12:17PM (#20184069) Journal
      Dude, it's NASA. They have to test their computers for space-proofness, radiation-proofness, and drunk user-proofness. Obviously those tests take time, 50 years in this case...what? You didn't think those old Analog computers used around the end of WWII were just thrown out right?
    • And why would a Y2K bug change the data for 1998?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        I'm going to respond to myself, since I found actual information at http://realclimate.org/ [realclimate.org]: It's not a Y2K bug at all, but a change in sources of temperature data that had not been calibrated with respect to each other. And it's not the gargantuan error that some people seem to be thinking. The anomalies for 1998 and 1934 used to be +1.24 degrees and +1.23 degrees, a difference of 0.01 degree. Now it's the other way around. And the long-term trend is unaffected. The uncertainties in data collection m
    • Re:Y2k? NOT! (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 10, 2007 @02:24PM (#20186073)
      It's not really a Y2K bug in the conventional sense, and it has nothing to do with Y2K software compliance. It's more like 2000 happened to be the year that the organization collecting the temperature data in the USA changed their procedures for correcting the data for the "time of day" that the temperature reading was taken. This meant a slight difference between the pre-2000 dataset and the 2000-and-later dataset, which is the inconsistency correctly recognized by the guy mentioned in the article.

      So, it's merely a coincidence that the change happened to occur in 2000. It could have happened any other year. Referring to this as a result of a "Y2K bug" is misleading. If it is, then anything that changed in 2000 could be called a "Y2K bug".

      I don't think demoting 1998 to the 2nd-highest US temperature in a century (barely -- by 0.01 annual average degree) is a big deal either. 1998 is an awfully close second. I also wouldn't ascribe much to the the claim that "half" the top ten years in the US were before WWII (1921, 1931, 1934, 1938). Last I checked, 4 is less than half of ten :-) Two others were in the 1950s (1953, 1954), and the rest were 1990, 1998, 1999, and 2006. Perhaps this is merely indicating that, in the US, lately it's been the hottest it's been since the "dust bowl" years. That's not a pleasant thought.

      The TOP 10 annual temperature years in the US are (celcius degrees from mean):

            year annual 5-year mean
      1 1934 1.25 0.44
      2 1998 1.23 0.51
      3 1921 1.15 0.15
      4 2006 1.13
      5 1931 1.08 0.27
      6 1999 0.93 0.69
      7 1953 0.90 0.32
      8 1990 0.87 0.40
      9 1938 0.86 0.36
      10 1954 0.85 0.47

      If you look at the top ten ranking for the 5-year means, the pattern is pretty clear:
      1 2000 0.52 0.79
      2 1999 0.93 0.69
      3 2004 0.44 0.66
      4 2001 0.76 0.65
      5 1932 0.00 0.63
      6 1933 0.68 0.61
      7 2003 0.50 0.58
      8 2002 0.53 0.55
      9 1998 1.23 0.51
      10 1988 0.32 0.51

      The 1930s are down at 5th and 6th place. 2005 and 2006 are left out because you can't calculate a 5-year window around them yet.

      Finally, the error changes the GLOBAL pattern insignificantly, and the global trend in the last couple of decades is greater than the USA trend.

      In all, it's a worthwhile error to catch for the US data, but it doesn't change much about the overall pattern.
      • Re:Y2k? NOT! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by mosb1000 ( 710161 ) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Friday August 10, 2007 @03:38PM (#20187223)
        " That's not a pleasant thought."

        Yeah, but the CO2 - Temperature correlation is eliminated (at least for the US measurements), since you can't show a consistent upward trend in temperatures associated with the consistent upward trend in CO2 concentrations. So it's more like "gee it's been hot lately, but that's not anything new".

        I am much less alarmed to learn that something scary happening now has also happened before and things turned out okay in the end.
        • Re:Y2k? NOT! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by electroniceric ( 468976 ) on Friday August 10, 2007 @06:21PM (#20189761)
          Look more closely at that (corrected) graph. In particularly, look at the year-on-year variability. The hot years in the 30's did indeed get very hot, but they were interspersed with cold years. No such thing happens in the late 90's and early 2000s - cold years in this latter period are all a lot warmer than almost any other cold years and in fact warmer than most years prior to 1930! This is another way of looking at what another poster was saying about ranking the 5 year running means, and is in fact the reason those running means are higher.
  • US vs World (Score:5, Informative)

    by MyLongNickName ( 822545 ) on Friday August 10, 2007 @12:16PM (#20184045) Journal
    I looked quickly at the numbers. This impacts U.S. air surface temperatures, not global. It almost seems like the U.S. is experiencing a somewhat lesser global warming effect than the rest of the world. Is this possibly due to the post-industrialized economy and tighter environmental regulations? This would mean we are still being impacted by global warming, but it is being countered by less heat-trapping smog and other pollutants?
    • Orson Scott Card, has been stirring things up [ldsmag.com] recently, and makes some damning statements regarding global warming, saying it is time for scientist to abandon the faked data of the "Church of Global Warming".

      It is time for us to laugh at the ideologues who try to pretend that any criticism of Global Warming alarmism is idiotic and unscientific. They are the ones who ignore the data; they are the ones who believe on faith alone, without evidence; and, most important, they are the ones who are trying to stifle the opposition without answering it.
      The Global Warming alarmists are the anti-science religion that is trying to forcibly indoctrinate and convert everyone while suppressing dissent. And the news media are their patsies, their stooges, their puppets.
      • by 2marcus ( 704338 ) on Friday August 10, 2007 @02:42PM (#20186351)
        Here is a response I wrote the last time someone brought up the Card article:

        Point 1: He starts with Mann and Santer and their 1998 "hockey stick" paper. Now, having not done paleoclimate research myself, I'm not going to spend a long time defending the paper. But I don't have to. There have been half a dozen independent analyses or more using different sets of paleo data that come up with very similar results. And that National Academy of Sciences stepped in to do an analysis of all these reconstructions, and published their results last year (http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?isbn=0309102251 ). Their conclusion? "No reconstruction shows temperatures in the Medieval Warm Period as large as the last few decades of the 20th century". Because of the difficulty of estimating global mean temperatures 1000 years ago, the NAS study declined to assert more than a 70% chance that the last few decades were the very warmest of the millennium, and that is was only "plausible" that they are the warmest of the past 2000 years.

        My conclusion: Yeah. Figuring out how warm it was 1000 years ago is hard. But the experts all seem to think it is pretty likely that we are seeing warmth unprecedented in 1000 years, possibly 2000, and it is just getting warmer. Plus, this 1000 year old data isn't fundamental to our theory or our estimates of how bad things will be in 100 years.

        Point 2: "Global warming vs. Climate change": First: the reason that the wording has changed is because we're worried about more than just increased in global average surface temperature, but also in changes in precipitation patterns, hurricanes, droughts, variability, etc. So climate change was more inclusive.

        2nd: If temperatures fall for three years, that doesn't really mean much. There is noise in the system. El Nino years are warm. Years after massive volcanoes like Pinatubo in 1992 are cool. This displays fundamental ignorance of statistics. If you are looking for trends in noisy data, you use running averages. Otherwise... shoot, it is colder this week than it was last week in Boston. I guess summer is over already, and it is just going to keep getting colder. Sheesh! The number of times this sort of reasoning has been repeated is ridiculous. So called "warming stopped in 1998" arguments are all over the net, even though any climate scientist in 1998 would have told you it was an anomalously warm year because of a very strong El Nino event that moves heat out of the Pacific and into the atmosphere temporarily.

        3rd: And it isn't even true that temperatures have been falling for 3 years! The last 12 months have been the warmest 12 months on record! See the GISS temperature record. http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/tabledata/GLB.Ts .txt [nasa.gov]

        4th: The Alarmists (at least the scientists) usually talk about 2100, not 2010 or 2020, and have been doing so for the past 20 years. And indeed, in the past twenty years average temperatures have gone up by 0.4 degrees C. That may not sound large but... 6 degrees C is the difference between an Ice Age and today.

        5th: The models do quite a good job at replicating the large patterns of the past century. See the Fourth Assessment Summary for Policymakers released in February. It has a nice graph of "temperatures for each continent in data and from models using: natural forcings, human forcings, or all forcings". www.ipcc.ch

        6th: Who is everyone? Why, ocean experts, atmospheric dynamicists, atmospheric chemists, modelers, paleoclimate people, ecologists: they each have their own area, and in each area, the fingerprints of climate change are clearly visible, and those who does interdisciplinary work (like me) can draw all the results together and see a ridiculously clear picture (given how complex the climate is, there is a surprising amount of evidence).

        7th: Card says: "Even the IPCC, which was so heavily biased in favor of
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      The full page of graphs put out by NASA is here [nasa.gov]. The problematic graph in question is "Annual Mean Temperature Change in the United States", the second graph from the bottom. Many of the other graphs show recent temperature increase globally, as you suggest, though the US graph is no longer so clear.
    • Re:US vs World (Score:5, Informative)

      by drmerope ( 771119 ) on Friday August 10, 2007 @01:20PM (#20185079)
      The guy who found this bug in the GISS data is Steven McIntyre. He's been working for the past few months at auditing studies of the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect. Several studies have dismissed this effect as non-existent. Steve has been pulling those studies apart--making it more likely that a UHI effect actually exists.

      If so, this would tend to bring world-wide temperatures more in-line with US numbers. World-wide temperature records are predominated by urban stations--in areas of substantially growing urbanization in the past 100 years. This urbanization itself taints the temperature trends.

      If you look at US cities, their temperature profile matches the global trend.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Xenolith ( 538304 )
        The Urban Heat Island effect is not a myth. Climatologists have been making corrections for this effect for decades. In other words, the current US climate record has been corrected for the Urban Heat Island effect.
  • Very biased article (Score:5, Informative)

    by eln ( 21727 ) * on Friday August 10, 2007 @12:16PM (#20184057)
    The last couple of paragraphs of the article:

    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.
    (emphasis mine)

    Seriously, this data may be very interesting and correct some of our possible misconceptions about the severity of global warming, but come on. The last part of his blog basically makes him sound like a standard zealot conspiracy theorist with an axe to grind. How does that sort of nonsense advance the debate at all?
    • by MyLongNickName ( 822545 ) on Friday August 10, 2007 @12:29PM (#20184275) Journal
      Numbers used in the debate about global warming were never questioned. The person who put together the algorithm never made the workings of the algorithm public (why not?). Yet there was no questioning the numbers.

      Someone goes to the trouble of reverse engineering the algorithm, and finds a pretty obvious error. Yet you are picking on one sentence? Sheesh. I'd think you'd be jumping on the closed-sourced original scientist instead.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by eln ( 21727 ) *
        I made no comment on the data other than that it might be interesting. I was pointing out that that sort of commentary is unhelpful because it makes the poster look like a crank. Other people more interested in getting bogged down once again in this endless debate can argue about the merits of the findings.
      • by Impy the Impiuos Imp ( 442658 ) on Friday August 10, 2007 @12:43PM (#20184501) Journal
        Worst than that -- he had to reverse engineer the data, since "Mr. Bush Is Keeping Me Down" would not release the original data .
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Lots of global-warming research is closed source. Check out this discussion of a prominent paper in Nature, for example:
        http://www.informath.org/apprise/a3200.htm [informath.org]
        —when things were finally opened up, it was also discovered to be wrong.

        Closed source and hidden data is the norm. It is wrong.
      • by cavemanf16 ( 303184 ) on Friday August 10, 2007 @01:18PM (#20185033) Homepage Journal
        Great point, and I believe that this very problem - closed scientific data and mathematical proof of global warming - has been the key item of contention for the global warming detractors (like me) because it sheds a lot of doubt on the accuracy of what we're being told by pro global warming scientists. Now, granted, I saw a lot of evidence of rather drastic changes to the global environment in Alaska earlier this summer while on vacation, but I don't believe that anyone is capable right now of quantifying and accurately measuring the impacts humans are having on a global scale towards these environmental changes, AND I'm not convinced that this isn't just a meta-cycle that the earth goes through from time to time and not "global warming" due to humanity polluting the earth.

        So if I am an open-minded skeptic about global warming that could change his mind given full disclosure of the methods used to determine the proof that "global warming" is all due to humans, then why wouldn't the scientists who support global warming theories just release said data? My theory is that they don't release all of their info because they know it's a shoddy product, just like Microsoft knows not to open-source their OS or parts of it because hackers would find all kinds of flaws with it very quickly.

        I'm not against protecting one's information from time to time for one's own profit, but if you're going to attempt to use that closed off info to alter my fundamental rights, my taxes, and my way of life then you had better start getting more open about it or you'll always be fighting with critics and losing.
    • by Blakey Rat ( 99501 ) on Friday August 10, 2007 @12:30PM (#20184301)
      The original investigation and corrected data should have been linked, not that blog entry (which just reports it.)

      In any case, the point is that NASAs data was wrong, and they have admitted to that and corrected it. (In some places; if you read the comments of the linked article, you can see that NASA still has some pages with the old data in it. Probably not maliciously, though, just an oversight.)
    • by mdsolar ( 1045926 ) on Friday August 10, 2007 @12:52PM (#20184625) Homepage Journal
      The tone of the blog does not match the tone of the reply which is quite polite. I addition, the correction does not change conclusions. The main result appears to be robust. There will continue to be corrections of unintended erors as well as improved methodology. The latest IPCC report appears to underpredict current sea level rise, an error in the opposite direction, if you like to cast this as a political fight. Errata are a well worn mechanism is science and this is what we have here.
      • Mod parent up (Score:5, Informative)

        by orzetto ( 545509 ) on Friday August 10, 2007 @01:55PM (#20185651)

        That's the main point that slashdotters do not seem to be getting right now, it's not like all the global warming theory went bananas.

        All you guys, do yourself a favour and plot NASA's corrected data [nasa.gov] in your favourite plotting program and then compare to other data [wikipedia.org] (be mindful of the Y scale). The years around 1940 were unusually warm in the US, but the year with the highest 5-year average temperature is 2000.

    • by MBCook ( 132727 ) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Friday August 10, 2007 @01:13PM (#20184949) Homepage

      I agree with him completely. There is no questioning of global warming. It's now a fact. The sun revolves around the earth. To suggest otherwise means you're an idiot.

      Let's ignore that CO2 is not the largest part of our atmosphere, and something else (say methane) may be responsible. Let's ignore the fact we're coming off an ice age. Let's the history of "science facts" that the media has trumpeted in the last 40 years or so (remember when we would all die in a massive world-wide starvation as foretold in "The Population Bomb"?, the new ice age they said would come in the by the 80s? The mass extinction caused by DDT?) Let's ignore the fact that Mars is getting hotter too and that it seems to be the Sun's fault. How about that acid rain that would become a blight on the planet making it impossible to go outside while it was raining in the US? And where are those empty south american countries that lost so many trees the planet can't produce enough oxygen to supply all the people in the world.

      Is the globe getting warmer? Seems like it. Is it the fault of humans? I wonder. Is it the fault of CO2? I wonder. I don't care if you want to reduce pollution and emissions and such. When I moved to my current location 9 years ago or so, the sky was clear. We now have plenty of smog. Asthma is going up in the US. There are plenty of reasons to do these kind of things. But no one talks about that any more. If we want to cut car exhaust, it's to stop the planet from warming, not so the air isn't brown. If we want to reduce power plant emissions it is to reduce the warming of the globe, not because the plant has been putting a fine layer of soot on everything downwind.

      Global warming is the latest media boogeyman. I'm just sick of hearing about it. I'm sick of how it's the US's fault. China pollutes more than us now. Go bug them. Go help them stop burning so many coal blocks for heat. Go help them make cleaner cars affordable. Go help India. Go help Europe (which is getting close to our levels). Fight the BIG sources (that will only grow bigger). When a dam is leaking, you plug the BIG leak that will soon be letting out 20,000 gallons a minute, not 5 little holes that let a few gallons through per day.

      I'm sick of this global warming stuff, and how I've basically never seen it questioned in the mass media (except by other people who question it and immediately get called morons for questioning).

      Global warming, as it is discussed in the US, seems more like a religion than anything else to me at this point.

      Can you give me a good reason why the number from a government scientist who's report was used to "prove" global warming and then later complained he was censored for his actions being disproved shouldn't be reported just as big as the original story?

      Remember kids. Call the president a child molester, that's page one. Print the retraction (if at all), that's page 37b in tiny type 6 months later between an ad for Hardee's and Mission Impossible 12.

      • Have you looked at the updated data set? Tell me what trends you see. Oh, it's still going up? Trends are still there? 1934 is the warmest year on record by only a fraction? We're still in the longest warming trend in recorded history? I take it that's all just conspiracy to you.
        • The key is "recorded history". 120 years is an eyeblink in earth's history. There simply is not enough data, certainly in this data set, to extrapolate anything other than it appears that there is a slight increase in temperature over 120 years. Who knows what the next 120 years will bring? I'm sure if you were looking at this same data set in 1980 you would've been bemoaning the impending ice age since there was a 30 year trend of dropping temperatures at that point.
      • by niiler ( 716140 ) on Friday August 10, 2007 @02:41PM (#20186315) Journal
        Never mind the fact that scientists are witnessing ice shelves in Antarctica falling into the sea [bbc.co.uk]. Or that the North Pole is melting [nationalgeographic.com] so that there will soon be a North-West Passage which Canada is laying claims to [american.edu]. Or that much of the global warming data does not come from NASA [aip.org]. Or that ski areas in the Alps [peopleandplanet.net]are going out of business. Or that there is glacial melting everywhere. [nationalgeographic.com]. Or that Indonesia's islands are being submerged by rising sea level [enn.com]. Call me a deluded, but it seems that the preponderance of evidence is on the side of these so called "global warming" fanatics.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 10, 2007 @02:52PM (#20186497)
        "Global warming is the latest media boogeyman. I'm just sick of hearing about it. I'm sick of how it's the US's fault."

        Oh, for heaven's sake. Nobody's saying it's the US's fault. The US is only part of the problem. But the US is responsible for a much larger amount of CO2 emissions on a per-capita basis than most countries in the world. Numbers vary, but it is either number 1 or in the top 5 for per-capita emissions. The US is also responsible for about 20% of global emissions, which is out of proportion with the size of its population, and it means that without some change in the US, changes made elsewhere aren't going to make much difference. Finally, even if annual emissions from China are just recently (2006) estimated to equal the US, it's still going to be a while at that rate before China catches up to what the US (and other industrialized countries) have already put into the atmospheric system for many decades before.

        Complain about how the US is demonized, if you like, but it is still responsible for a significant chunk of the problem, and it purports to be one of the most economically vibrant countries in the world. If it can't or won't reduce CO2 emissions, then why should a developing country like China or India even try? Why should they slow down doing the same things that we in the industrial world have done for the last century or so? And if they don't try, then we are pretty much committing ourselves to an experiment to see what happens as human CO2 inputs to the atmosphere continue to rise higher and higher. Maybe the estimates of what will happen to climate will be wrong -- that would be nice. Here's hoping.

        Anyway, if the US doesn't care about this, well, fine, but it isn't much of a demonstration of the global leadership the US claims have for most other issues of global concern. I guess we'll just mark that in the "non-leader" column. You still have plenty of other things to fall back on.

        "Can you give me a good reason why the number from a government scientist who's report was used to "prove" global warming and then later complained he was censored for his actions being disproved shouldn't be reported just as big as the original story?"

        Because it's a tiny error that doesn't change the global pattern significantly. So, it's a "ha! ha!" moment, but I don't think any scientist is going to claim they never make errors, and, in the end, this one doesn't amount to much.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by theodicey ( 662941 )

      The funny thing is that Steve MacIntyre, the climate skeptic who identified the error, has a history of hyping models with even worse errors like degrees/radians confusion [johnquiggin.com].

      So both sides here are capable of making mistakes. The advantage of the mainstream climate community is its robustness. Both its data sources and its models are multiply redundant. This is not the case with the skeptics' criticisms.

      The other difference between the sides is that every time the skeptical side finds anything they con

  • by GammaKitsune ( 826576 ) on Friday August 10, 2007 @12:18PM (#20184087)
    As if millions of voices suddenly cried out "oops" and were suddenly silenced.
  • by huckamania ( 533052 ) on Friday August 10, 2007 @12:18PM (#20184099) Journal
    Who cares what this data says, don't we already have consensus on this?

    9 out of 10 scientists say the hottest decade was the 1990s, how dare anyone suggest otherwise?

    Zogby should poll all of the scientists in the world and figure out what is going on.
  • Cool! (Score:5, Funny)

    by cigarky ( 89075 ) on Friday August 10, 2007 @12:19PM (#20184105)
    Now we can drive bigger cars and oil will never run out! :0
  • US centric (Score:5, Informative)

    by ianare ( 1132971 ) on Friday August 10, 2007 @12:20PM (#20184115)
    from TFA

    The effect of the correction on global temperatures is minor (some 1-2% less warming than originally thought)
  • this is good. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ralph Spoilsport ( 673134 ) on Friday August 10, 2007 @12:20PM (#20184123) Journal
    This proves that science works. It doesn't "disprove" (global warming). What it does is gives us more refined data, and a clearer understanding of the climate.

    Obviously, dumping billions of tons of Greenhouse Gases into the atmosphere is not a good idea, period. However, this refined data shows the warming trend in a more accurate light, and that is all to the good.

    I see this as (yet another) great victory of the scientific method, and in this case, aided by a sharp-eyed blogger. The beauty and strength of scientific truth lies in its "weakness": its provisionality - things are only true until proven otherwise.

    This is very good news.


    • Re:this is good. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kad77 ( 805601 ) on Friday August 10, 2007 @12:27PM (#20184251)
      Um, yeah. Hansen from NASA refused to release the algorithms he used, funded by public money.

      The blogger reversed engineered them from the data. Hardly the open scientific process you are ascribing to it.

      Also, NASA has very quietly updated the numbers, replacing the old ones without reference. No transparency there.

      Try again, pollyanna.
  • by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Friday August 10, 2007 @12:25PM (#20184209) Journal
    ....both sides have established a religious level of conviction of their position, and no compromise is possible or desired. Certainly intelligent discussion, moderate debate, and consensus are discouraged if not actually torpedoed by zealots of the Left and Right extremes.

    Pretty much like every serious issue in American politics.
  • by gadlaw ( 562280 ) <gilbert@nOspAm.gadlaw.com> on Friday August 10, 2007 @12:27PM (#20184243) Homepage Journal
    I've been told in no uncertain terms that I must BELIEVE in global warming and that man has caused it. Many of the Brethren have warned the unbelievers that they face arrest, scorn and treatment as if they were traitors, holocaust deniers and altogether evil less than human creatures that must be silenced at all costs. By presenting the other side of the argument, (which by the way, according to the Brethren there is no other side of the argument) these people are giving comfort to the enemy. If there are facts which cause doubt about the truth of global warming then those facts must be suppressed. It is for the good of all. Oh, and it's all George Bush's fault I've been told. And America's fault.
  • by pandrijeczko ( 588093 ) on Friday August 10, 2007 @12:36PM (#20184405)
    ...if we all burn, then Microsoft burns too!
  • Well done... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by StressGuy ( 472374 ) on Friday August 10, 2007 @12:39PM (#20184447)
    First off, kudos for actually referencing the claims made, this is a critical and often overlooked step when dealing with such a contraversial issue. It won't stop people from arguing the point mind you, but it does give the less lazy among us an opportunity to at least validate the claims made.

    Without a doubt, you've made a compelling case.

    Now, allow me to make some suggestions:

    Try to avoid statements designed to "stir the pot" such as "quietly released". I know it's a tempting expression to use and just about everyone does it. However, it carries with it the implication of NASA being forced to release the data but not wanting it to be noticed. If that was the case, then make the case, don't just make suggestive statements... Speak Plainly . It will give integrity to your report rather than make you look biased, thus giving ammunition to the opposing side. Remember, NASA is not required to make a fanfare, they just need to correct their data.

    Also, your data stands on it's own merits, there is no need for you to make assumptions on how it will be received by the "Global Warming Propaganda Machine" or whomever. Again, it makes you look like your just trying to pick a fight and it diminishes the effectiveness of your report.

    Now, I'm only taking the time to write this because I think your presentation is one of the better ones I've seen. It does not "debunk" global warming (particularly the "global" part if I understand the data I've looked at so far), but you make a great case for critical evaluation of the data and peer review of conclusions.

    Regardless of who's side you're on, that's all any rationale person should want.

  • by night_flyer ( 453866 ) on Friday August 10, 2007 @12:45PM (#20184519) Homepage
    2006 will be a bad year for hurricanes... didnt happen
    2007 will be a bad year for hurricanes... hasnt happened
    yet they are predicting thet the effects of global warming will start to take effect in 2009?
    once they start getting the local weather 2 days out correct on a consistant basis THEN I will start to believe their long term forcasts
    • by Coryoth ( 254751 ) on Friday August 10, 2007 @01:30PM (#20185247) Homepage Journal

      once they start getting the local weather 2 days out correct on a consistant basis THEN I will start to believe their long term forcasts
      Useful climate predictions are currently usually over the next 50 years or century. You see it is easier to predict long term behaviour averaged over long time scales than it is to deal with the short term fluctuations. It remains very hard to predict exactly when and how the next wave is going to break on the beach, but predicting where the high tide mark will be, averaged over all the various waves washign ashore, that's a little easier. Short term climate prediction is still very young. They are currently making a big fuss about a new climate model in England that can predict in terms of a decade instead of a century [bbc.co.uk] by incorporating a lot of the nasty short term variability that can be averaged out of longer term predictions. Predicting climate in terms of a year ahead as you're suggesting? That's simply not possible yet.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      2006 will be a bad year for hurricanes... didnt happen

      Unexpected El Niño.

      2007 will be a bad year for hurricanes... hasnt happened

      That's because it's the second week of August. Remember that 1950, the second most active Atlantic hurricane season on record (by accumulated cyclone energy) did not have a named storm form until August 12. The fourth most active year, 2004, had its first named storm on July 31. The number six season, 1955? July 31st again (barring the freak Hurricane Alice during New Year's). 1998, number seven on the list, and the year of Hurricane Mitch (remember Mitch? second highest death c

  • by rd ( 30144 ) on Friday August 10, 2007 @12:50PM (#20184599)
    "Don't confuse me with the facts, my mind is already made up."
  • revised top 10 (Score:3, Informative)

    by yoyoq ( 1056216 ) on Friday August 10, 2007 @01:03PM (#20184795)
    the revised top 10 has 3 of the warmest years within the last 10 years.
    a rough probability calculation gives that a p less than 0.03
    thats supposed to convince me global warming isn't happening?

    also the warmest was 1934,
    check out a possible related event
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dust_Bowl [wikipedia.org]

    • ... Sad that it took this long to occur. Here are some more interesting tidbits from the updated data set. 1934 was 1.35 degrees warmer than the norm. 1998 was 1.23 degrees warmer. 2006 was 1.13 degrees warmer. In fact, the last ten years show an unbroken string of being warmer than expected. The 5-year mean over the last 24 years was warmer than expected.

      The only thing that the new graph lacks is a headline-grabbing "warmest year EVAR!!!". The trends are still there. The data still doesn't contradict what
  • Lies of omission (Score:5, Informative)

    by Shaterri ( 253660 ) on Friday August 10, 2007 @01:08PM (#20184863)
    From the summary and the article:

    In fact, the corrected study shows that half of the 10 warmest years on record occurred before World War II.
    Mentioned nowhere: the uncorrected version of the study has only, ummm, four of the 10 warmest years on record occurring before WW2. In fact, the net effect of this 'massive' bugfix (aside from a couple of minor changes of position on the list) is to replace the year 2001, in the bottom of the top 10, with the year 1939. Yes, there is a drastic change in 2001's temperature deviation (about 15 percent), and a notable change in 2006's (a bit under 10 percent), but to claim that this somehow puts the lie to the data is an absurd overreach. Can anyone offer an explanation for explicitly mentioning the '5 years before WW2' figure in the new data without mentioning that this is only one year more than previous, that doesn't involve a deliberate effort to spin the results?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      But given that drastic inaccuracy in 2001, plus the fact that NASA does not disclose the source code or methodology used to compile the historical data, wouldn't you agree it's prudent to call the rest of the data into question?
  • what kind of bug? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by onemorechip ( 816444 ) on Friday August 10, 2007 @01:42PM (#20185437)
    Go to the linked article, and search for "Top 10 GISS U.S. Temperature deviation". There are two tables, one showing the top 10 based on new data and one showing the top 10 based on old data. The order is different, but the biggest change is that 2001 is not in the new ordering, being replaced by 1939. The changes in the tabulated years are 0.1 degrees Celsius or less, and are typically 0.01 to 0.03 degrees Celsius, except for 2001, which had an error of 0.14 degrees Celsius.

    How are these small errors characteristic of a "Y2K bug"? Wouldn't we see something more gross, like the 2001 data equaling the 1901 data?
  • by GeorgeF611 ( 1140899 ) on Friday August 10, 2007 @01:42PM (#20185439)
    Take a look at the NASA GISS PLOT of the new data; it's quite informative: http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/Fig.D_lrg .gif [nasa.gov]
  • irrelevant. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by greywire ( 78262 ) on Friday August 10, 2007 @02:17PM (#20185965) Homepage
    You know, I am really getting tired of the anti-global-warming people using anything they can find to discredit the science. Its like the anti-evolution folks trying to say its all wrong just because a few people in the past faked their results and were shown to be frauds.

    They are missing the point.

    Whether global warming is really happening or not is not so much important as the fact that we are belching tons (literally) of pollution into the air and water. How can anybody be against cutting down on pollution? How can anybody be against trying to preserve at least a portion of what's left of our natural envirionment? duh? Even without global warming we are still clearly systematically destroying everything on this planet.
  • Be cool... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Z00L00K ( 682162 ) on Friday August 10, 2007 @02:29PM (#20186137) Homepage
    Just consider the temperature variation during a longer timespan, say for Stockholm 1756 to 2006 [www.smhi.se].

    This tells us that the temperature during the last years are higher - for Stockholm. Other places may have a different figure. It is important to look not only for a single site but for several sites with different geographical influence.

    What really is needed is an analysis of the temperature over a much longer timespan than just a few hundred years - and here the ice cores drilled from Greenland and Antarctica are one key. Another is the growth of really old trees where the thickness of the year rings tells a lot of the climate, but unfortunately not everything. A warm dry summer gives a different result than a warm wet summer.

    And even if the climate is shifting - it's the polar regions that are seeing the greatest changes.

  • 2 hypotheses (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wytcld ( 179112 ) on Friday August 10, 2007 @05:16PM (#20188843) Homepage
    Hypothesis 1
    Proportionally large changes in proportions of climate-involved gases in the atmosphere are having effects on climate. As these changes may threaten the continuation of our advanced civilization, we should closely study all available evidence and model the effects to the best of our abilities.

    Hypothesis 2
    Massive numbers of scientists who study climate have a secret agenda to bring down industrial civilization, and will fudge any and all data in order to convince the population to end industrial civilization before the sky falls in on us from the shaking of industry's engines.

    Note the parallelism
    Both hypotheses see a threat to civilization. According to the first, the threat is that the effects on climate from our activities may get away from us. According to the second, the threat is that if we listen to scientists and act prudently, they will concertedly lie to us to achieve the neo-Luddite political result in which we renounce most of our technological and economic means.

    Note the absurdity
    According to the 2nd hypothesis, scientists - who have been essential in developing our technologies - have now massively subscribed to the sort of anti-technology ideologies that are found in the fringes of some English departments. This is a matter which is easily amenable to sociological research. It would be trivial, really, to go out and, using solid, proven techniques, interview a broad sample of environmental scientists on their personal views of and affections towards technology. It is central to the deniers' case that scientists, as a block, hold anti-technological views. Yet anecdotally, every professional scientist I know (some in climatology) loves technology. Is the only reason that the deniers fail to conduct the basic sociological research to prove their hypothesis that they know from their own anecdotal experience that it would fail to support them?

    Are they doing something worse than fudging the data: failing to collect it in an obvious place, because they know it would prove them massively wrong?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nagora ( 177841 )
      Massive numbers of scientists who study climate have a secret agenda to bring down industrial civilization, and will fudge any and all data in order to convince the population to end industrial civilization before the sky falls in on us from the shaking of industry's engines.

      You forgot "After decades of saying that the data didn't support the idea." So, we're supposed to believe that, rather than reacting to new data, these scientist were all bribed in some way by the Illuminati.

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