extreme weather

A San Diego television station’s broadcast provided more fodder for climate skeptics, but, is there any real evidence that NOAA and NASA are manipulating facts in order to promote climate change?

According to the KUSI broadcast, reporters claimed that two federal climate research centers, namely NOAA and NASA, are manipulating temperature data in order to further an “agenda.” However, further research shows that much of this reporting shows a misunderstanding of how these key climate networks calculate global temperatures.

The broadcast utilized data provided by meteorologist Joseph D’Aleo and a computer programmer, E.M. Smith. Together, the two claimed that there was “government wrongdoing” on the part of these two entities. They stated that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is “seriously complicit” in manipulating data by “creating a strong bias toward warmer temperatures through a system that dramatically trimmed the number and cherry-picked the locations of weather observation stations.” The report claimed that the scientists at NOAA were using the data from these places to create false data meant to “prove” that global warming is occurring and climate change is real.

KUSI meteorologist John Coleman claimed that NOAA and NASA are basically lying to the public. Both NASA and NOAA have vehemently rejected the claim. They cited a claim by Carl Sagan, “these are extraordinary claims that require extraordinary evidence.

However, it is apparent that these calculations are misunderstood by the meteorologists attempting to make these claims. They must not understand how the Global Historical Climatology Network calculates global temperatures.

According to D’Aleo and Smith, NOAA “systematically eliminated seventy-five percent of the world’s stations with a clear bias towards removing higher latitude, high altitude and more rural locations. Each of these places tend to be cooler” than the areas which were chosen to be a part of the calculation utilized by NOAA and NASA. The reporters also claimed the two agencies utilized “slight of hand” by making 2005 appear to be the warmest year of record. The pair also claim that the National Data Center has eliminated actual temperatures at multiple locations; they further posited that both NOAA and NASA had adjusted temperature data from individual stations in order to increase warming trends.

The scientists at NASA and NOAA responded that while the data did appear to have been purposely eliminated, this was not the case; in fact, the data “dropped off” because some of the datasets were “retroactive data.” They also pointed to the fact that not all stations are hooked to the internet and can deliver real-time data. They stated that many stations utilized by NOAA and NASA send in their data in handwritten fashion.

In addition, the scientists at NOAA and NASA pointed to the fact that, during the 1970s, when much of this data was just beginning to be recorded, many stations did not report to one entity so that the data could be accurately kept. In fact, many researchers had to pour over the handwritten data to come up with trends used by the government entities.

While many skeptics would love to see proof that global warming is a hoax, carefully combing over the data and available literature will show that the data is accurate and it accounts for many variables. Rather, deciding to drop the data from certain stations due to inaccurate reporting is in the best interest of scientific data.