Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Steele saga - Repost 3/5 - Steele misrepresents California temperatures

This is a reposting of the third of five responses I made regarding various aspects of Jim Steele's 1/7/15 WattsUpWithThat 'essay' - in light of Steele's recent comment, I think it's only fair to bring it up again. 

Here I take a closer look at what Steele said about USHCN temperature data, in particular examining the way he misrepresents California temperature trends. Also Victor Venema explains some of the reasons why temperature data must be adjusted. 


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Peter Miesler Helps Expose USHCN Homogenization Insanity - WUWT

That's Mr. Jim Steele talking in that title, I myself intend to expose something quite different.

Although it'll be a few days before I'm ready to comment on the USHCN itself and the way Mr. Steele puts their data to work, (too many other things going on, for now I offer the following reading list courtesy of VV at VV).
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Victor Venema at Variable Variability 
put together a good reading list of articles that look into temperature adjustment: 
Climatologists have manipulated data to REDUCE global warming 
Variable Variability
Phil Plait at Bad Astronomy comment on the Telegraph piece: No, Adjusting Temperature Measurements Is Not a Scandal 
John Timmer at Ars Technica is also fed up with being served the same story about some upward adjusted stations every year: Temperature data is not “the biggest scientific scandal ever” Do we have to go through this every year? 
The astronomer behind And Then There's Physics writes why the removal of non-climatic effects makes sense. In the comments he talks about adjustments made to astronomical data. Probably every numerical observational discipline of science performs data processing to improve the accuracy of their analysis. 
Steven Mosher, a climate "sceptic" who has studied the temperature record in detail and is no longer sceptical about that reminds of all the adjustments demanded by the "sceptics". 
Nick Stokes, an Australian scientist, has a beautiful post that explains the small adjustments to the land surface temperature in more detail. 
My two most recent posts were about some reasons for temperature trend biases: Temperature bias from the village heat island and Changes in screen design leading to temperature trend biases 
You may also be interested in the posts on how homogenization methods work (Statistical homogenisation for dummies) and how they are validated (New article: Benchmarking homogenisation algorithms for monthly data)
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For now I want to focus on two more fundamental issues:  
1) Why does Mr. Steele rely on a few graphs based on a data set he also belittles as next to worthless?  
2) Why doesn't he allow the copious observational evidence to guide his convictions - rather than obsessing over fractions in a very complex data set?

The courier font are Mr. Steele's words lifted from his January 7th, 2015 WattsUpWithThat blog post. "Peter Miesler Helps Expose USHCN Homogenization Insanity and Antarctic Illusions."
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¶6  I have referred to Yosemite’s temperature trend because it represented similar trends recorded in USHCN data throughout montane California, from the north at Mt Shasta in the Cascades, to Lake Tahoe (where my research was focused) and south to Death Valley. Likewise the peak warming in the 20s and 30s supported past analyses of California’s climatologist illustrating California’s rural counties had not experienced any warming that exceeded the 30s. 
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Check it out, here Mr. Steele relies on a two decades old study that affirms the Urban Heat Island effect.  There is no climatologist out there that would disagree, and every climatologist will also explain that real though UHI effect is, it does not make a fraction of the global impact that humanity's injecting some 3 gigatonnes per month of insulating greenhouse gases into our atmosphere does. (think: compounding interest)
Goodridge, James D. "Comments on regional simulations of greenhouse warming including natural variability." Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 77.7 (1996): 1588-1588.
Also, one might ask, what do today's climatologists think?
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¶7 " My Yosemite graph was created purely from data downloaded from the US Historical Climate Network (USHCN) in January of 2012. Anyone (scientist or layperson), familiar with the climate data issues knows immediately that the USHCN data is a good place to compare temperature data,... 
¶8  Still the trend is very much the same, very accurate, and totally supports my assertion: Maximum temperatures have not risen since the 30s! {slight quote correction 1/17/15 evening}
{Then the tone changes quite dramatically}
¶9  The WRCC climatologists correctly noted Yosemite’s raw data was not available until 1907, but USHCN’s adjusted data always starts in the 1890s.  
Since those earliest temperatures are merely modeled from data presumably collected elsewhere, early temperatures are susceptible to the “modeling whim du jour” ... I finally realized the USHCN is perpetually altering temperature trends. 
¶10  ... Anthony Watts, myself and many others have questioned the distortions created by homogenization and have warned about resulting warming biases. ... 
¶11  As an ecologist, I never trusted homogenized USHCN data because it alters trends in local mean temperature and removes local variability in an attempt to extract a presumed “real” climate trend. 
... But Menne’s algorithm is definitely not ensuring reliable trends! ... Although tampering with raw data in other scientific disciplines results in retractions and disciplinary actions, Menne’s brand of science boasts, “Daily adjustments are thus a promising area for future HCN development.” 
¶12  ...Adjustments were inflicted despite the fact the data had been quality controlled and adjusted several years before. ... USHCN’s algorithm is slowly whittling away at original temperature data that otherwise would reveal a more cyclical nature to climate change. 
¶13  By what possible logic, would 2 years of additional data suddenly reverse a cooling trend since the 30s and create a warming trend? I suggest we need to ask Congress for a full investigation. 
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Mr. Steele by what possible logic would you build your graphs and assumptions using USHCN data when you don't trust their data?  You even go to the extreme of suggesting a Congressional investigation is in order.  What's up with that?

Why then not look around for something more reliable?  Such as actual long term down to Earth observations?  Why do you not allow that evidence to inform your convictions?

Why do you cite Cordero et. al (2009) at your blog, yet ignore it's information?  Please, I challenge you Mr. Steele to show me where the "no warming trend" can be found in the following authoritative studies?

The identification of distinct patterns in California temperature trends 
Eugene C. Cordero · Wittaya Kessomkiat · John Abatzoglou · Steven A. Mauget 
November 4, 2010 © Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011 
4.2 Comparison of annual trends: 1918–2006 with 1970–2006

Why do you ignore the plethora of real life, boots on the ground observations, in favor of bickering over fractions in extremely complex data processing outcomes?

Why not allow this evidence to guide your assumptions?

Indicators of Climate Change in California
Report Summary

The full report can be downloaded from: 
Since 1895, annual average temperatures have increased by about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit (oF ) across California.
Parts of the Central Valley and Southern California have experienced the greatest warming.
Over the past century, minimum, average and maximum temperatures have all been increasing.
Summertime heat waves are increasing across the state. The graphs below show heat wave trends based on the frequency, intensity and regional extent of heat patterns during July and August.
During winter, the warming trend is reflected in decreasing “winter chill” in fruit-growing regions of the state. Many fruit trees require a certain number of hours below a temperature threshold to produce flowers and fruit. 
Over the past 20 years, the altitude in the atmosphere at which temperatures drop below freezing has risen by about 150 meters (500 feet). This indicates warming conditions at higher elevations. 
Precipitation varies considerably from year-to- year, and periods of consecutive dry or wet years are evident. Overall, statewide and regional trends show little change over the past century. 
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Over the past century, spring runoff to the Sacramento River has decreased by 9 percent. Lower runoff volumes from April to July may indicate: (1) warmer winters, during which precipitation falls as rain instead of snow; and (2) earlier springtime warming.
With warming temperatures over the past century, the surface area of glaciers in the Sierra Nevada has been decreasing. Losses have ranged from 20 to 70 percent
Lake waters have been warming at Lake Tahoe, Lake Almanor, Clear Lake and Mono Lake since the 1990s. 
Sea surface temperature at La Jolla has increased over the past century at a rate twice as fast as globally. 
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Ocean conditions—including currents, winds and temperature—strongly influence marine populations. The following population changes may be related to ocean warming and changes in the distribution and abundance of prey:
  A dramatic decline in fall-run Chinook salmon abundance in the Central California region since 2004. 
  More variable Cassin’s auklet breeding success on the Southeast Farallon Islands off the California coast, with unprecedented reproductive failures in 2005 and 2006, and record high productivity in 2010. 
  Significant declines in sooty shearwater and Cassin’s auklet populations at sea in Southern California over the past 24 years. 
  Increased California sea lion pup mortality and stranding of yearling pups. 
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Other indicators of climate change impacts on biological systems show that:
  In Southern California, dominant plant species across the north slope of Deep Canyon in the Santa Rosa Mountains have moved upward by an average of about 65 meters (213 feet) over the past 30 years. 
  Today’s subalpine forests in the Sierra Nevada are much denser, consisting of more small- diameter trees, than 70 years ago. 
  The lower edge of the conifer-dominated forests in the Sierra Nevada has been retreating upslope over the past 60 years. 
  Central Valley butterflies have been appearing earlier in the spring over the past four decades. 
  About half of the small mammal species surveyed in Yosemite National Park showed a change in the elevation at which they can be found today, compared to earlier in the century. Most of these changes involved movement to higher elevations. 

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