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December 10, 2009

Homogenizin': Hey, My Tucson Station Is Now Surrounded by a Big Heat Island and the Nearby Grand Canyon Station Remains Pristine, So You Know What I'ma Do? I'ma "Homogenize" 'Em.
Hey Look! Now They Show Warming!

This story is from last week but it didn't seem very sexy then. I linked with a "hey read this" sort of link. Seems sexier now.

A few posts back, I showed how nearly 85% of the reported warming in the US over the last century is actually due to adjustments and added fudge-factors by scientists rather than actual measured higher temperatures. I want to discuss some further analysis Steve McIntyre has done on these adjustments, but first I want to offer a brief analogy.

Letís say you had two compasses to help you find north, but the compasses are reading incorrectly. After some investigation, you find that one of the compasses is located next to a strong magnet, which you have good reason to believe is strongly biasing that compassís readings. In response, would you

Average the results of the two compasses and use this mean to guide you, or
Ignore the output of the poorly sited compass and rely solely on the other unbiased compass?

Most of us would quite rationally choose #2. However, Steve McIntyre shows us a situation involving two temperature stations in the USHCN network in which government researchers apparently have gone with solution #1. Here is the situation:

He compares the USHCN station at the Grand Canyon (which appears to be a good rural setting) with the Tucson USHCN station I documented here, located in a parking lot in the center of a rapidly growing million person city.

Unsurprisingly, the Tucson data shows lots of warming and the Grand Canyon data shows none. So how might you correct Tucson and the Grand Canyon data, assuming they should be seeing about the same amount of warming? Would you
average them, effectively adjusting the two temperature readings towards each other, or would you assume the Grand Canyon data is cleaner with fewer biases and adjust Tucson only? Is there anyone who would not choose the second option, as with the compasses?

The GISS data set, created by the Goddard Center of NASA, takes the USHCN data set and somehow uses nearby stations to correct for anomalous stations. I say somehow, because, incredibly, these government scientists, whose research is funded by taxpayers and is being used to make major policy decisions, refuse to release their algorithms or methodology details publicly. They keep it all secret! Their adjustments are a big black box that none of us are allowed to look into (and remember, these adjustments account for the vast majority of reported warming in the last century).

Result? Shock of shock, the "homogenized" numbers show warming.

Emphasis in original for a change. Graphs and more analysis at the link.

Remember, there is no scientific standard, no protocol, for determining when stations will be homogenized or not. It's "judgment." Feel. Guessin'.

Trained Credentialed Scientists

Because not just anybody can almost randomly decide to average some numbers together.


(Hat-tip to Jeff Goldstein, this being his slogan, or thereabouts.)






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