Fabricating Temperatures on the DEW Line


Would you want to do this every day?

Photos Courtesy Brian Jeffrey - click image for more photos from the era


Stevenson Screen placement in relation to heated buildings- click for larger image

Today I received an email that contained some startling revelations about the Weather Stations that were put in place on the DEW Line, a network of cold war era radar monitoring stations in Canada and Alaska, that have now been abandoned. It makes for interesting reading. The sender Robert J. Chouinard was stationed at one of these and responsible for the weather observations. I don’t doubt the accuracy of his report.

You see, in the early to mid 60’s, during the height of the cold war, I was stationed in the Canadian Arctic as a radar and communications technician on the Distant Early Warning Radar Line (DEW Line).  Besides our main objective of spotting Russian bombers coming over the pole to drop atomic bombs on North American cities, we were tasked with making weather observations and synoptically reporting to a data collection center somewhere down south.  This was well before satellites and maybe even before mainframe computers were employed for this task.  The synoptic reports were compiled by elves and analyzed by someone who was supposed to know what they were doing.  Their objective was to forecast the immediate weather which they didn’t do very well.  The whole process was considered a joke by everyone who was involved in the process but we had to play along with the charade.

For numerous reasons many reports were fabricated. No one imagined their fabrications would comprise a data set that would, in future years, be used to detect minor global warming trends and trigger a panic in the world.

Some of the reasons why the reports were fabricated:
1.  Their purpose was only to help with, what was considered, the futile efforts at weather forecasting, not studies on global warming.  (The significance of the difference between -55F and -45F was not appreciated.  Both temperatures would freeze your balls off.  So why split hairs?)
2.  Often, this activity interfered with our primary objective.  This was because of manning problems which would take a lot of explaining and which I will not go into.
3.  Some of the other reasons for fabricating reports:
(a.)  physical discomfort of leaving a warm environment and venturing out into the extreme weather conditions to read mercury thermometers located about 200 ft. from the living modules.
(b.) fear of frost bite, getting disoriented by limited visibility, or being mauled by marauding polar bears.  (Did you know that more Eskimos get killed from polar bears in Greenland than die of heart attack?  I have always been stoic about dying, but being mauled by a polar bear was my greatest nightmare.)
(c.)  plain old laziness.
-
When you feed this tainted old data into computers for analysis, well GIGO.  I realize that the referenced study covered a later period but I doubt that the human element changed much.  What more can I say?

Tough choice: get the temperature, get mauled, or stay safely indoors and make something up. Photo Courtesy Brian Jeffrey

Indeed, the human element has always been the weakest point of any of our temperature measurement systems, otherwise NCDC would not need FILNET to “fill in” missing data from stations by interpolating other data from nearby stations.

Missing data happens even when polar bears aren’t prowling between you and the thermometer. For example, look at this B91 form provided by the Marysville California observer (PDF format). Note all the missing days. Thanks to NCDC’s FILNET program, those missing days get made up into a complete data set much like the data on the DEW line did. With a “best guess” programmed into a data sorting and analysis program.

Fabricating or guessing data is usually met with serious repercussions in other fields, yet the current state of climate science seems to accept FILNET created data or data from remote outposts like these without question. My question is, if the human network is this unreliable, how do you know that the data from nearby stations your are interpolating from isn’t a product of “just plain laziness”?

I wonder how well the Russians did with their temperature data gathering in similar remote outposts?

UPDATE: Name of DEW line observer added with permission, and new photo added at 7:30AM 7/18/08

UPDATE2: Some clarifications from the original source have been added below.

Dear Mr. Watts:

Here is some follow-up information which you can do with as you wish.  Maybe you could post it as a comment.

Robert J. Chouinard

All DEW line radar and communication technicians (radicians) used to receive a two week crash course in weather reporting, which included identifying and naming various types of clouds.  It is this familiarity with clouds that alerted me to the strange cloud formations resulting from weather modification programs such as the laying down of chemtrails.  For some time I have been reading of other peoples observations which confirmed my suspicions until finally I read an article on the net based on an anonymous individual blowing the whistle on the extent, purpose, and science of this illegal and secretive experiment.

I reported this article to Fred Singer who forwarded it on to Tim Bell who graciously replied to me what he knew about this program.  He finished by remarking about how difficult it is to figure out what is happening naturally with the weather when it is being manipulated.  I remarked about resulting erroneous data and offered my experience on the DEW line as another example of erroneous data.  Fred Singer passed my comments on to Anthony Watts who took an interest in reposting it.  I didn’t expect this old post which originally evoked a ho hum response to be as well received as it has been on this blog.

However, judging from the responses to this post, I fear that I have left some distorted impressions.  First, most of us radicians started out being quite fastidious but priorities have a way of getting in the way.  Liquor was never the problem.  We were on shift when we did our weather reports and drinking during working hours was never allowed.  Remember our first objective was a very serious one – to detect enemy aircraft during the cold war era.  I arrived at Fox-1 one year after the photo of the polar bear was taken, in the summer of 1962, at the start of the Cuban missile crisis.  None of us were in a mood to fool around.  Being stuck on the DEW line after a nuclear exchange did not appeal to any of us.

I alluded to manning problems so maybe I should offer some details.  Our employer, Federal Electric of Paramus, N.J., was the sub contractor to the USAF.  They were not a nice company to work for and consequently when I arrived there was an ongoing attempt to organize a union, which went nowhere during my subsequent 4 ½ years of employment.  Because of the tension resulting from the Cuban missile crisis and company related morale problems there was a mass walkout which meant that the rest of us were pressed to work double shifts for which we were promised to be paid overtime.  (We never were paid). Weather reporting was a low priority for which we didn’t have the manpower so reports got fabricated.  Once bad habits are formed it’s hard to break them.

I cannot speak for other people at other sites or in better times but the low priority of the task, I suspect, prevailed and inspired compromised reporting.

About polar bears:

I said “Did you know that more Eskimos get killed from polar bears in Greenland than die of heart attack?” Someone doubted this so I tried to find my source, to no avail.  I have a son who is a doctor in Denmark who is contemplating working in Greenland for a few years.  He grew up hearing stories of his maternal great-grandfather during the Klondike gold rush and my DEW line stories so he got the idea of carrying on the family “tradition”.  I relayed this information about polar bears to him along with an Internet reference which, unfortunately, is no longer active.  So, take this information with a grain of salt, if you like.

Polar bears were always a threat on the DEW line, especially at certain times of the year.   I thought I was about to be devoured by one at Fox-1 on a very cold, dark night in 1962.  I was concentrating on reading the thermometer from the Stevenson Screen when the station chief’s pet husky came up behind me and jumped up on my back.  I had a minor heart attack on the spot.  I’m happy to say that that was my only “polar bear” experience.

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83 Responses to Fabricating Temperatures on the DEW Line

  1. Dieuwe de Boer says:

    So it looks like global warming was caused by polar bears, global cooling, and laziness.

  2. neilo says:

    This opens the question: what dataset can we trust, and from what point in time?

  3. papertiger says:

    http://www.sacbee.com/288/story/1089062.html

    CHICO – Fire officials have determined that the Humboldt fire, which consumed 23,500 acres and destroyed more than 80 homes near Paradise in Butte County, was intentionally set.

    Joshpae White, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said the investigation is ongoing but that officials have eliminated all other causes of the wildfire.

  4. Evan Jones says:

    Indeed, the human element has always been the weakest point of any of our temperature measurement systems, otherwise NCDC would not need FILNET to “fill in” missing data from stations by interpolating other data from nearby stations.

    Hmmm.

    I know someone from online (not this site) who claims he is an odfficial temperature reader volunteer. He posted a shot of his Stevenson screen (but he decline to reveal which one; he was well aware of the surface-station project).

    He made a joke or two about deliberately “upping” the readings by a couple C. I emphasize that I do not know if he actually did or not. (For that matter, I don’t even know for a fact he is an official reader or if his station is part of the NOAA/GISS official net.)

    But I always wondered about that “human element”. I never mentioned this until now, but in light of the above story (complete with “F” word), I thought I’d relay is as an anecdote or the mix.

  5. papertiger says:

    Cruising under your radar
    Watching from satellites
    Take a page from the red book
    Keep them in your sights
    Red alert
    Red alert

    Left and rights of passage
    Black and whites of youth
    Who can face the knowledge
    That the truth is not the truth?
    Obsolete
    Absolute

    Distant Early Warning by RUSH.

    It seems to fit the occasion.

  6. Mike Borgelt says:

    Scene: Any guard house at a camp in the Gulag.

    Guards: Boris it’s your turn to read the Stevenson screen.

    Boris opens door – howling gale at 30 below or so comes in.

    Boris quickly shuts door.

    Boris: Ivan what was the temperature when Gennady read the screen last week before the bad weather?

    Ivan: minus 30.7

    Boris: ya reckon it’s colder?

    Ivan: Da, comrade.

    Boris: how about we put down minus 33.4?

    Ivan: Da, Boris, have another vodka!

  7. Kev says:

    Whup, Whup

    Troll Alert Condition Red:

    Where are this anonymous person’s credentials to comment on McHale’s Navy-like shirking of thermometer reading in the face of snow, sleet and hungry polar bears ?

    What peer-reviewed studies exist to show that humble grunts deployed to the Arctic Circle in the middle of the Cold War might have been less than diligent about reading the thermometer in spite of frivilous distractions like potential thermonuclear obliteration ??

    This almost exists in the category of excuse as to why merchant seamen and naval ratings might have been a tad distracted in taking seawater temperature readings during the period 1939-45 ? As if U-boats and kamikaze dive bombers could possibly offer a reasonable explanation !!

    Perish forbid !!

  8. Bob Tisdale says:

    Here’s an alternate theory for anomalous Siberian warming. It’s from comment 15 at this thread at ClimateAudit:
    http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=3114#comment-254021

    “This thing with the SSTs reminds me of the revelation after the Cold War that in many Russian cities, mayors or other local leadership would have their ‘offical’ daily temperatures exaggerated in order to make it look as if it were really colder than it was, in order to get more money for fuel from Moscow. After 1990 we see a sudden jump in Siberian temperatures-coincidence?”

    Interesting. I wonder if Johne S. Morton has anything hard to back it up.

    Regards

  9. Leon Brozyna says:

    When ‘modern’ and ‘progressive’ businessmen, motivated by the lure of government grants and susidies, make adjustments to financial statements to present a rosy picture of the health of a business, everyone takes a ride on the gravy train until the fraud is exposed. Then, with self-righteous outraged indignation on the part of the deceived, these frauds are prosecuted and these businessmen serve time in jail.

    When real scientists adjust their data to make a study ‘work’, their duplicity may escape detection for a time. They may even become repected members within their specialized community. But all it takes is a single dedicated grad student raising concerns and careers are ruined, reputations sullied, a pall of shame descends, and studies redone to undo the damage.

    But in the area of climatology, standards don’t seem to apply. They can cook the books with impunity. Missing data? Fill in the blanks with guesses. If such practices are questioned, defend the phony data and blame the weaknesses on human nature. A real scientist’s career would be ended but a climatologist seems to be granted special dispensation to play fast and loose with the facts, even the made up ones. A real scientist must present all his data for review so that other scientists can try to replicate the work. A climatologist does not feel constrained by such standards and will even invoke claims of intellectual property rights to prevent his work from being too closely scrutinized.

    Unfortunately, when such sloppy junk science is sanctioned by government and is trumpeted loudly by mass media, we all pay. When the whole mess is unmasked and finally crumbles from its own contradictions, it’ll make Enron seem like some truly minor petty ante scam.

  10. Mondeoman says:

    Wow, if you can’t even trust the data ………

    PS Great site – its been interesting reading this for the past few days. For what its worth, I put most credence into the sunspot theory than anything else, it cant be a coincidence that if our main heater fluctuates in its output, then our temperature changes.

  11. J.Hansford. says:

    Ahhh record keeping and those that find themselves press ganged into it…

    As a Trawlerman free to harvest the sea once, it was with a huge measure of contempt and derision that we were obliged to voluntarily fill in log books of our catches, of where and when and how much we caught….. As if we would bloody tell them this!!!….

    Then the voluntary turned into mandatory… But our sentiments still hadn’t changed, but rather inflamed…..

    Now some thirty years latter all this data was then used to model our, you beaut, state of the art ,fishing legislation models….. A model that promptly modeled us fishermen out of existence.

    ‘mazing what you can do with data…. ‘eh?…. Hell it don’t even has to match reality…. Bet you guys even think there’s no fish left out there?

    Temp records – Prawn catches….. still just guestimates, less or more a tad, jotted down in between a mouthful of coffee and the next wave across the bow…….

    We are about to stuff a whole economy, or freedom, enterprise and dreams…. For a unfounded hypothesis.

    It’s a cryin’ shame.

  12. Pierre Gosselin says:

    This story just further confirms the general unreliability of surface station measurement. I think all conclusions drawn on HadCrut or GISS data have to be accompanied by significantly wide error bars. Think again before basing national and global policy based on such data.

    PS
    I see 2 tiny tims on the latest sun photo.

  13. diane wilson says:

    There’s an old Soviet saying: “As long as they pretend to pay us, we’ll pretend to work.” That would almost certainly include “we’ll pretend to measure the temperature.”

  14. sod says:

    (Did you know that more Eskimos get killed from polar bears in Greenland than die of heart attack?

    i have serious doubts about this claim, as bear attacks are incredibly rare.

    http://www.polarbearsinternational.org/bear-facts/bear-attacks/

    In all of Canada, only seven people have been killed by polar bears in the past 30 years.

    while the heart attack rate among eskimos is growing.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080710170558.htm

    —————————

    talking about the rest of the entry, i am pretty sure that some officers would care about the temperature reading.

    there are statistical methods to find faked number. and you have other stations, to compare the data to.

  15. Phillip Bratby says:

    A bit off topic, but the BBC is reporting more delays due to bad weather in the completion of a cafe on top of Mount Snowdon in Wales. Unexpected snow and gales etc are to blame (due to “global warming”, we don’t expect snow any more!). 80 days work lost due to bad weather last “summer” and 70 days lost since March this year. Unusually for the BBC, there was no attempt to blame the bad weather on global warming or climate change. Check it out at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/north_west/7513155.stm.

  16. Weird but I expressed my deepest doubts about all the climate data only a few hours prior to this post. A quote – “I was to start a new project – a blog with climatic and geo databases, sort of reference pages – but reading the texts below I decided to put it off. What a sense in presenting wrong data? If NOAA and NASA used to use falsified data or processed them to fit their agenda, what it could be said about others’ databases?”

    From Political Climatology or Climatic Politics?
    http://p2o2.blogspot.com/2008/07/political-climatology-or-climatic.html

    Regards

  17. Tregonsee says:

    Sir Josiah Stamp said it well:

    The Government are extremely fond of amassing great quantities of statistics. These are raised to the nth degree, the cube roots are extracted, and the results are arranged into elaborate and impressive displays. What must be kept ever in mind, however, is that in every case, the figures are first put down by a village watchman, and he puts down anything he damn well pleases!

    Treg

  18. Chris D. says:

    Almost makes one wonder about the accuracy of the historical record created by other public servants, such as firemen, forest rangers, dam operators, water treatment operators, etc.

    This post is remarkable because it is direct, personal testimony of false reporting. I’m sure the criticism will be that the person remains anonymous. I get the sense that this person is describing one site, as opposed to the entire DEW line temp monitoring array (however many sites there were/are). This would be interesting to investigate to see if more sites were handled this way.

    REPLY: the name is there now, I was simply waiting for a confirmation.

  19. Fred from Canuckistan . . . says:

    As someone who has done DEW Line time, I can attest to the logic.

    At -55, it is so cold the thin flap of skin covering your eyes doesn’t insulate anymore and you get stabbing cold pains in your eyeballs. It really hurts and outside work gets delayed or fudged.

  20. McGrats says:

    Evan Jones wrote: “He made a joke or two about deliberately “upping” the readings by a couple C. I emphasize that I do not know if he actually did or not. (For that matter, I don’t even know for a fact he is an official reader or if his station is part of the NOAA/GISS official net.)”

    A thousand years ago (or so it seems) when I was in the US Navy, it was common practice to ditto in or estimate sea water temperatures recorded each hour. It was just too much of a pain in the keester to lean down into the bilges and take the intake water reading (from a gauge). So it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if the practice also permeated USHCN stations… especially if it was raining, snowing, etc.

    Jack Koenig, Editor
    The Mysterious Climate Project
    http://www.climateclinic.com

  21. Will says:

    This is further evidence that polar bears hatched the global warming hoax to get some attention. It took a few decades, but their plan is finally working.

  22. Gary says:

    Regardless of the accuracy of the reporting of the temperature data, is a Stevenson Screen (a/k/a Cotton Region Shelter) an appropriate way to get temperatures in these extreme conditions? Wouldn’t the high probability of icing affect the readings?

  23. David says:

    Having seen my fair share of bureaucracies in my lifetime, every word sounds completely true. I looked through all the pictures at the link. I imagine they had more important things on their mind than measuring temperature on this day:

    http://www.ve3uu.com/target28.html

    or this one:

    http://www.ve3uu.com/target40.html

  24. Dell says:

    More evidence that Global Warming is indeed Man Made, by which I mean, a result of Man Made errors and/or omissions.

  25. Interesting to see some of my photographs again! Having spent three years on the DEWline, some of it taking weathwer observations, I can confirm, to a certain extent, the veracity of the blog. Most Radicians were fairly religious about bundling up and going out to read the two thermometer. The only reading that I ever had problems with was the depth of snow after each snowfall. We just kept adding the inches up and by the time spring came we had to start reporting the leaving of the snow. If our reports were to be believed, there was massive melting and flooding coming from the Arctic as we tried to account for the total snow amounts we had erroneously report over the winter. A precursor to what we now call global warming.

    Interesting stuff.

  26. Ric Werme says:

    Bob Tisdale (02:35:23) :

    “This thing with the SSTs reminds me of the revelation after the Cold War that in many Russian cities, mayors or other local leadership would have their ‘official’ daily temperatures exaggerated in order to make it look as if it were really colder than it was, in order to get more money for fuel from Moscow. After 1990 we see a sudden jump in Siberian temperatures-coincidence?”

    Sigh. Anthony, perhaps you need to add another field to the surfacestations metadata, to wit, the motivation of the station’s keeper to provide accurate data. I would expect that farmers would want good data so they could track the various growing degree days for each crop, ranchers less so, airport personnel moderately so (though wind, barometer, and hot temperature data would be of more interest).

    Perhaps you can use siting issues as a proxy for motivation. Sites in shrubbery and next to air conditioners imply poor motivation.

    Or maybe we should just burn all the data that was never meant to be used to measure climate change. It may be the only way to stop Garbage In, Gospel Out.

  27. Brent Matich says:

    Just so you know , our story on the APS editor is gone already from The Drudge Report. It was below Gore’s latest insane remarks, of course that’s still there.

    Seriously, what is there to do up in those outposts but drink. That goes for any isolated station in the world and to break up any boredom you mess around with data, just for laughs. Yes, what is the difference between – 45 and – 55? I wouldn’t have cared at the time either.

    Anyway gotta go camping and freeze my butt off and catch some rays coming out of another cloudy day.

    Brent in Calgary

  28. Headless Blogger says:

    You cannot overestimate the effect of drug and alcohol use at these stations on record keeping. They have been traditionally abused at remote military outposts. Especially prior to Reagan’s “Just say no” campaign.

  29. Stan Needham says:

    3. Some of the other reasons for fabricating reports:
    (a.) physical discomfort of leaving a warm environment and venturing out into the extreme weather conditions to read mercury thermometers located about 200 ft. from the living modules.

    LOL — at least they knew enough to put the thermometer a decent distance from the building.

  30. deepslope says:

    My first Canadian contract was as a fisheries technician during the Beaufort Sea Project 1974-75, taking inventory of fish populations in Yukon coastal waters, in view of planned offshore oil production (hasn’t happened yet…). Our base camp was on the already abandoned Stokes Point DEW Line Station, but we were frequent guests at the still active Shingle Point Station (close to MacKenzie Delta) and the DECCA navigation station on Herschel Island (before GPS…).

    Visiting these stations even in Summer was a surreal experience – cannot imagine that any weather data were reliable – if it wasn’t for Polar Bears and blizzards, there were Grizzly, stampeding Caribou and mosquitos… not to mention many other distractions typical for pioneer attitudes far from civilization.

    Nevertheless, an unforgettable experience!

    Arctic perspective is a great teacher for understanding global climate processes

  31. MarkW says:

    Comparing one station to surrounding stations only works when few of the stations have faked data.
    When the amount of faked data grows to be non-trivial, you have as much chance of modifying real data to match the fake, as modifying fake to match the real.

    As usual, sod takes the position that the data must be good, therefore it is.

  32. Jeff Alberts says:

    You cannot overestimate the effect of drug and alcohol use at these stations on record keeping. They have been traditionally abused at remote military outposts. Especially prior to Reagan’s “Just say no” campaign.

    Lol, not just remote stations…

  33. John Galt says:

    Ah yes, brings back recollections of my days in the Air Force at Loring AFB, in northern Maine.

    It was surely warmer in Maine than anywhere along the DEW line, but come winter the outside work was done with a lot less diligence. People routinely fudged the log books on vehicle maintenance as those inspections had to be performed outdoors.

    It seems we only have accurate climate data since 1979. Everything else is unreliable. It beats me how some scientists still want to use surface station data instead of satellite.

  34. Bill in Vigo says:

    I can remember times when investigations were made to the amounts of alchol being imbibed at remote locations or at sites with very restricted access. That aside I can see it now—–

    Officer “airman go out and read the thermometer” Airman goes out the door around the corner and smokes a cig. Comes back in and reports “heavy snow and 55 below” officer it has to be right!! Airman ” Yes sir go check for your self.”Officer ” ok I guess it is ok sure is cold out there”

    Yep the officers care as long as they didn’t have to go out and read the thing.
    I wonder if the other sites were the same. I think probably so as these folks all trained together and worked together. I know they talked back and forth on the hoop and holler net. I bet they even compared temps and such.

    There are some things that were never meant to be used as we do now and the
    temp reports from some of these site were some of them. There are times when
    I wouldn’t have sent one of my men out as a Sargent but the officer would insist
    We never had to do the weather part but would see it done. from our site in Europe. I can remember once when the young PFC came in to report “sir I can’t fine the tower.” and he faked the report. the snow was blowing to hard and no one should have been sent out any way.

    We now have remote sensing and should use it. both satellite and surface. We just need to have good siting for the surface sensors.

    Lots of early data is skewed for human reasons and I can’t believe that there is any way to correct it with any amount of certainty. IMO if we cant tell for sure what the temp was 50 75 100 or more years ago how can we model to predict 50 75 or 100 years from now.

    Bill Derryberry

  35. steven mosher says:

    Sod.

    Which other stations? go on, find them

  36. john s. says:

    Although I never was involved in taking temperature readings during my time in the US Army my colleagues and I were often asked to provide various types of statistical data that was intended to be used to create “figures of merit” to better measure enemy capabilities in various national security topic areas. Since many times the data itself was ambiguous, at best, and perhaps even artificially manipulated at its source for the enemy’s own reasons and almost always estimated or interpolated in some fashion any way, we provided the best information we could but never dreamed it would be used to support serious decisions regarding both national policy and the spending of vast sums of money.

    An example.

    I hasten to add that the data was not intentionally made inaccurate on our part it is just that without an objective way of measuring many of the datapoints you just ended up saying something like “North Vietnamese SAM-2 missile sites employing Fan Song-C radars could typically acquire target lock against an F4 size target at xx NM. Since we couldn’t tell for certain that the site actually had lock, nor did we know just what the slant range was since we didn’t know the exact altitude of the friendly aircraft (much less a precise location for the radar van itself) the xx NM we wrote down in no way represented an absolutley accurate figure of merit.

    In a later hqs assignment I was astonished to discover that these types of data from the field were amalgamated into large and impressive datasets and used by think tanks like the RAND corporation as the basis for all manner of amazingly complex and involved trend analyses. Our term for these sorts of efforts was “Double precision arithmetic operations against estimated data.”

    When I tried to explain to the data aggregators and highly paid contractors the unintentional spuriousness of the underlying data sets I was very pointedly uninvited to any future involvement in the process.

    As an aside. In the cold war period the Soviets were constantly practicing various forms of what they call “maskirovka,” which is denial and deception to hide their true intentions/capabilities. Well one area they used to do that in was to deliberately falsify their weather reporting from many of their weather reporting sites in the central Soviet Union and the areas bordering China. They assumed we were collecting their weather data being relayed by HF radioprinter back to Moscow and wanted to deny the US forces access to information that might help us make better weather forecasts in support of strategic strike planning against the Soviet Union or, especially during my era, weather over Southeast Asia in support of our operations in Vietnam. Although never proven, from observations of the amazing number of Soviet aircraft lost to weather during training flights over their own territory we suspect that they were actually using the falsified weather for their own predictions. Perhaps their weather twinkies hadn’t been told that their own synoptic data reports were not reliable.

    Now, forty years and more later I am sure that hordes of unsuspecting worldwide climatologists are actually using those deliberately corrupted datasets to make profound judgements on global weather trends.

    Sigh,

    John S.

  37. It is time to stand up and be counted.

    All science loses when one doctrine gains a majority of funding. Any scientist in any other field needs to voice their concerns NOW. Every member of a concerned public who prefers truth over scary fiction must ask for debate.

    AGW, and the policies proposed in its defence, if allowed to continue to subjugate truth and propogate the false premise that CO2 is a pollutant and harmful, will devour nations, enslave individuals and is in any case futile in the face of a blossoming Asia.

    The perpetrators of this fakery and its attendant baggage will slide off with their ill gotten gains whilst the majority, including academics, politicians and future generations will pay dearly.

    This fundamentalist control exercise will set back the advancement of mankind, through burden of taxation if nothing else, by a hundred years – the very same one hundred years we have “in hand” where we can rely on our adequate supplies of oil, gas and coal to propel us toward a clean future power supply technology that works while it protects us from the ravages of the coming cold.

    Free fertilizer for all is a benign byproduct of our present dependence on the cleanest energy sources we have so far utilized – we would be in serious respiratory trouble if we still relied on wood, or dung, to fuel our modern economies. CO2 rising to 800ppmv, whilst unlikely due to the coming cold period, would only be a boon to the biosphere just as it is in a real greenhouse.

    NOW is the time to make your voices heard:

    We, the people, demand that science must triumph over fantasy.

  38. Hans says:

    Dear Mr Watts, Anthony,
    Sorry for posting off-topic but I didn’t find an emailadress on this page.

    I’ve been reading yor blog for a year now and I have a question about radiative forcing.

    Inspired by the articles of Stephen Wilde I started thinking about the way radiative forcing works: CO2 absorbing infrared radation and dispersing it in all directions, this would slow down the radiation of heat into space and thereby warm up the atmosphere.

    I think that the radiative forcing would give the biggest effect in conditions when the atmosphere is loosing heat through radiation.
    During the day the predominant actor is the sunlight which is absorbed by the ground and turned into infrared-radiation.
    Some of the energy radiates into space in the form of infrared radiation.
    But there is more energy coming in the atmosphere than radiating outwards into space.

    In the night however (especially when there are no clouds) the atmosphere loses most of its heat through radiation.
    And this is precisely the proces that is hindered by the greenhouse gasses.
    When more greenhous-gasses are present, less energy can radiate outward into space (this is what the greenhouse-theory is all about).

    The best way to maesure the greenhouse-effect (in my opinion) is during the night when the sky is clear.
    If the warming in the 20th century is really caused by an enhanced greenhouse-effect, that would be reflected mostly in the minimum-temperatures, measured just before dawn.

    My guess is that radiative-forcing would also diminish the difference day and night temperatures: more greenhouse-gasses would give the same effect as clouds, cooling down by radiation is prevented.

    Does this make any sense so far ?

    I have asked the Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute (KNMI) about this. They answered that they haven’t looked into this and I could try for myself if there was a difference between the first 2 decades of the 20th century and the last 2 decades.
    I downloaded their data and found no change in the mean difference between day and night temperatures.
    Holland is close to the sea and the difference between day and night depends also on the temperature of the seawater and the windspeed and wind-direction.

    I hope that you can tell me if others looked into this effect of radiative forcing and what they found.

    Greetings from Holland
    Hans Verbeek

  39. crosspatch says:

    “It beats me how some scientists still want to use surface station data instead of satellite.”

    One will “believe” the data set that validates their hypothesis to the greater degree.

  40. Gerald Ingle says:

    If this story is true, it sounds like some of these temperature measurements must be regarded as WAGs (wild ass guesses), not even rising to the level of SWAGs (scientific wild … ….)…….lol.

    You put enough clowns together, and sooner rather than later, a circus will break out…..

  41. Bill P says:

    Compliments to Anthony for another interesting thread. Can’t remember the last time I heard reference to the DEW line. Once or twice since the good old “duck and cover” drill days.

    Also, here’s to the internet. I can’t imagine such an investigation – of surface monitoring stations – or a similar discussion of it, taking place even 10 years ago.

  42. Jeff Wood says:

    John, you almost answer your own question. Imagine using data that need not be manipulated, I mean “adjusted”.

  43. Haha get temperature and get mauled, or stay inside and make something up.

    I get something similar to that choice a lot in college and I have always chosen the latter :x

  44. AEGeneral says:

    But in the area of climatology, standards don’t seem to apply. They can cook the books with impunity. — Leon Brozyna

    As an accountant, I’m held to pretty high standards in regard to an audit of projected financial statements (which I use for comparative purposes here). All assumptions made must be fully disclosed, must be reasonable, and must be strictly followed….otherwise, the client isn’t going to like my opinion, assuming I don’t decide to completely withdraw from the engagement altogether.

    Yet everything I have read over the last few years seems to indicate an irresponsible and flat-out reckless lack of disclosure in regard to this subject in its entirety — especially with climate models and their baseless prognostications of climate conditions decades from now.

    Compare the end users of these research studies versus a report I would issue. It’s not like the rest of humanity is impacted by anything I would be expected to do; but the same can’t be said of this daily bombardment about global warming and kidney stones, obesity, increasing storm intensity, you name it. Governments around the world are enacting laws based on all of this, and it impacts all of our daily lives — which is why I think I have a right to claim damages for my own elected representatives’ reliance on all of these bogus studies, fabricated data, subjective adjustments, etc.

    Your Enron comparison is right on the money.

  45. David Segesta says:

    Possibly if they had kept the vodka bottle inside the Stevenson Screen they might have gotten more frequent readings. Although the accuracy might have suffered.

  46. Glenn says:

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080530144943.htm

    “By measuring changes in winds, rather than relying upon problematic temperature measurements, Robert J. Allen and Steven C. Sherwood of the Department of Geology and Geophysics at Yale estimated the atmospheric temperatures near 10 km in the Tropics rose about 0.65 degrees Celsius per decade since 1970—probably the fastest warming rate anywhere in Earth’s atmosphere. The temperature increase is in line with predictions of global warming models.”

    What a surprise. Then lets don’t rely on problematic temperature measurements at all, and say that we haven’t the foggiest idea whether the earth has warmed in the last 50 or hundred years, or whether it is still warming or getting colder, and just “blow with the wind” to find out. Sheesh.

  47. AEGeneral says:

    Would you want to do this every day?

    I wonder if Brian ever triple-dog dared anyone else to lick that Stevenson Screen….lol….what else would you do for entertainment?

  48. Ed Reid says:

    The original measurements taken from the instruments are the “data”, accurate or not. Unlike in a laboratory situation, the “day” cannot be rerun to obtain an accurate data set, if the existing data set is determined to be inaccurate or incomplete.

    However, once the “adjustment” and the “fill in the blanks” process begins, the numbers are no longer “data” or “data sets”. They become merely sets of numbers which have been “adjusted” so as to approximate what the data set should have looked like had all the data points been collected properly from accurate instruments.

    Therefore, referring to the sets of temperature numbers reported by GISS as “data” is generous in the extreme; and, woefully inaccurate. Also, the significance of the figures in each of the “adjusted” temperature numbers cannot be improved by the adjustment process. Arguably, any figure affected by the adjustment process loses its significance in the process. I won’t even address the (in)significance of the numbers inserted in the set to “fill-in” for uncollected data.

    In the US natural gas company in which I spent my career, performing a “drive-by” meter reading was grounds for summary dismissal, even though the next actual reading would compensate for any estimation inaccuracy in the “drive-by” reading. Apparently, in climatology, “drive-by” readings live forever. Charming; and, so reassuring.

  49. swampie says:

    “Faking” information is not unknown in organizations outside of the military, either. I’ve worked in various occupations after leaving the military and was not shocked or surprised to find that branch offices often send falsified information to the main office, particularly when the information requested seems to have no pertinence whatsoever to the position that the employee that has been tasked to gather it is being paid for.

  50. stas peterson says:

    I am not at all surprised by the revelations, about non careful measurement reporting.

    What made you expect anything different? As another poster said, the only reliable reporting is

    The only other might be the balloon measurements as they were taken by meteorological teams whose prime objective was weather data, not some preripheral task, viewed as a pain the butt, make work.

  51. Bill Newberry says:

    Anthony,
    I’m somewhat disturbed by this story (confession) and some of the responses by your readers. Many of these remote sites and bases were manned 24/7 by dedicated Air Force weathermen many of whom I knew back in the early to mid 60’s. I’ve never known one of them to admit to such low-life behavior. We were taught that the accuracy of the data was paramount and not anything to compromise. In fact, fudging the “official” weather observations was a courts martial offense. All of our forms were checked for accuracy and inconsistencies before being mailed off to Ashville. Some of the more remote radar sites, manned mostly by civilian contractors, probably had some individuals who resented being tasked with an “extra” job. I’m not sure to what extent this information was used but I’m sure it was merely supplemental. There does exist years of accurate data from places such as Frobisher Bay, Thule, Sondrestrom, Saglek Bay, Goose Bay, etc., and in Alaska from such diverse locations as Cape Lisburne to Middleton Island.
    I hope the author of this expose’ was an exception to the rule. If he had worked for me he would have found himself breaking rocks at Leavenworth then living the rest of his life as a federal criminal.

    of blatant disregard of ethics and out and out

    REPLY: I found it disturbing too. But I also found it quite plausible given what I’ve learned about human tasked weather data gathering in general. Like any organization there are always those that toe the line, and do a good job as a matter of pride, and then there are the slackers.

    How would you know if someone had fudged data, if it were within range of expectations? For example if they guessed -45F when it was actually -50F ? With the distances between stations, the 5 degree difference is quite possible.

  52. roentgen says:

    The mentions of the cold war bring up a perhaps paranoid irony. Remember during that time that the idea was to spend the USSR into oblivion? I recall there being quite a few fake technologies to get the Soviets thinking that we were further along on some projects than we really were; in effect trying to spur their spending on all the more. Wouldn’t it be a kick in the pants if global warming were the reverse form of this trickery? Both China and the former Soviet Union promulgating the existence and severity of global warming, full well knowing that neither of their countries would have to cave to any sort of environmental demands (why start now?) while the US would more than willingly take on any number of expensive/disruptive solutions to prevent the ‘problem’?

  53. An Inquirer says:

    Okay, a question for statisticians: Does this DEW data situation mean that we have more noise around the true number, or numbers that are biased in one direction, or just plain garbage?

  54. leebert says:

    Tony wrote:

    > I wonder how well the Russians did with their temperature
    > data gathering in similar remote outposts?

    Soviet-era temperature reports became a contest in misreporting wintertime temperatures in order to qualify for larger heating oil subsidies.

    http://www.norcalblogs.com/watts/2007/08/1998_no_longer_the_hottest_yea.html#comment-125343

  55. Mike Ford says:

    OT…but too unreal to pass up.

    On the other side of the world:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080718/ap_on_sc/brazil_dead_penguins

    Check out the last few paragraphs and chalk another one up on the list of “Global Warming is Causing…” Cracks me up, and from a biologist no less.

    Maybe send some polar bears south to eat the penguins before they wash up in Rio? If only the poor polar bears knew how to charter a flight.

  56. Tom Klein says:

    Hans,
    I have been thinking about performing the same test. Since you are only interested Anthropogenic greenhouse gases – CO2 – your test must be performed in a desert where you can exclude the water vapor vapor caused greenhouse effect. Holland is not an ideal location to perform such a test.

  57. Alan McIntire says:

    This thread on swag reports reminds me of a short science fiction story by Isaac Asimov, “The Maciine that Won the War”.

    http://209.85.141.104/search?q=cache:0UNhMkakWCYJ:www.pointpark.edu/files/mba580_themachinethatwonthewar.pdf+asimov+%22the+machine+that+won+the+war%22&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=2&gl=us

  58. Philip_B says:

    I think that the radiative forcing would give the biggest effect in conditions when the atmosphere is loosing heat through radiation.

    No, the GH effect is largest when outgoing radiation is at its maximum and that will typically be in the middle of the day when the Earth’s surface is gaining the most heat from the Sun.

    Whether the Earth’s surface is warming or cooling has no direct effect on the GH effect. Although the reverse is true.

    Otherwise Hank, don’t use min and max temperatures as day night temperatures. Generally both min and max temperatures occur in the daytime.

  59. MattN says:

    How much longer will this house of AGW cards stand up?

  60. Philip_B says:

    I heard this totally unverified anecdote, which sounds to me like it is true and possibly quite prevalent.

    Much of Australia is sparsely populated and recording temperatures would be the job of the shire clerk, often the only public employee for a considerable distance around.

    The story goes that this particular shire clerk liked to go to the next town (town is a rather grand term for a place that might have a hundred or so people) to drink with his mates on the weekend. His only duty over the weekend was to record temperatures. So he would fill in the weekend values on a Friday and put it in the mail to be collected on a Monday, because he typically returned after the weekly mail collection. And as a result the weekend temperature data for this location were entirely fictional for many years.

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  62. Aaron C says:

    papertiger: loved the Rush quote! I had thought of it immediately upon reading this post!

  63. Tom Klein says:

    MattN,
    I am sorry to disappoint you, but unfortunately the the house of AGW cards can exist for a very long time. You see the AGW movement is a political , not a scientific, or public policy issue. The scientific issues sink in the crossfire of competing claims and unfortunately the political audience tunes out pretty quickly. There are only two ways that the AGW movement can be stopped.
    1., there is an effective legislative opposition which is able to draw attention to the enormous costs vs. the very uncertain and in most likely hood minor, or non-existent benefit of mandated major CO2 emission reductions.
    2., there is rapid and undeniable Global Cooling which will totally undercuts the AGW argument politically as well as scientifically.
    While I am hopeful, I am not optimistic.

  64. Gary Hladik says:

    Alan McIntire, I was thinking of that same Asimov story as I was reading this great thread.

    The really scary part of all this is that climate science isn’t the only area affected by unreliable or bogus data. The same problem is found to some extent in nearly every aspect of our lives.

    [shudder] Did it suddenly get colder in here?

  65. Evan Jones says:

    “Who Goes There?”

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  67. Roger Carr says:

    roentgen… don’t even whisper (“Wouldn’t it be a kick in the pants if global warming were the reverse form of this trickery?”).
    That would be the unkindest cut of all…

  68. Bruce Cobb says:

    Here in New Hampshire, there was a bit of a brouhaha this past winter, somewhat sarcastically referred to as “snowgate” over snow totals, and how they are measured in Concord. This only came to light because we were closing in on the all-time record snowfall of 122 inches, set in 1873. Apparently, snow totals are being done by individuals now, due to the fact that 10 or 15 years ago, there was a reorganization of the weather service forcing the closure and consolidation of offices nationwide. Here is the link to an article about it in the Concord Monitor:
    Something doesn’t measure up
    The system is a bit lacking, shall we say.

  69. will86aber says:

    I’ve always felt that the global warming theory was highly unreliable, if not completely fabricated to bring in more dough for sketchy scientists.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
    http://will86aber.wordpress.com/2008/07/19/penndel-borough-and-robbins-ave/

  70. Bob Meyer says:

    “Who Goes There?” – John W Campbell Jr.

    Maybe we should insist on blood tests for Al Gore. It could explain a lot about him.

  71. Bill Newberry says:

    Bruce,
    The method of measuring snowfall as described in the article is a surefire way to guaranteed inaccuracy. We have a similar setup in central Maine and I can recall several instances where the snowfall totals were changed/revised/amended after-the-fact. The most accurate way of measuring snow is to obtain a water equivalent to
    compare against what is measured on the snow boards. However, measuring snowfall is more talent than science. The 12″ of dry fluffy stuff that comes off the Great Lakes on frigid January days is a lot different than the 6″ of traffic choking slush from a Nor’easter. The texture of the snow combined with the wind factor goes a long way in determining how “accurate” the measurement will be. This is the way its always been. We are just adding to the aggravation by relying solely on snowboard measurements by part-time help. I guess we’ll just have to ignore future “records.”

  72. crosspatch says:

    “It is this familiarity with clouds that alerted me to the strange cloud formations resulting from weather modification programs such as the laying down of chemtrails. ”

    Uh, oh … “chemtrails” is a buzzword used by the loonies. At this point I am not sure I am going to believe a word this person is saying without further confirmation … which considering the number of people that served up there over the years, shouldn’t be too hard to get.

  73. Ric Werme says:

    http://www.intellicast.com/Community/Content.aspx?a=137 is a column by Joe D’Aleo about issues at New York City’s Central Park temperature record and questionable adjustments that make warming appear.

    More relevant to the thread is a claim I heard, I no longer have it, that reported New York’s snow measurements of the Blizzard of 1978 are poor. Well into the storm the responsible parties stopped taking measurements in part because it was so nasty out and in part because they figured any new snow would just compact the old by the same amount. Measuring snowfall is an art, as is measuring snow on the ground. The official rules for both tasks aren’t quite okay and could be improved on. In general things are better than in the 1970s, but not perfect.

    http://richaucoin.com/_wsn/page4.html has some notes about a 2006 storm in New York with questionable snow amounts. It’s unfortunate that Concord NH’s snow record got fouled this year. I live about eight miles from the airport which is near the measurement site and could’ve helped out. My snowfall beat Concord’s record, but there were a couple storms where I got much more than they did.

    I generally don’t pay much attention to arguments about changes in snowfall implying something about climate change. Over long enough time it does, but individual year’s variances are so great all I can do is shake my head in amazement. One might think that I get more snow than southern New England, and I did by a huge amount last season. OTOH, in 2004/2005 southern New England had more thanks to a couple major coastal storms that didn’t reach this far in. See my http://wermenh.com/sdd/index.html for more. Heck, see my http://wermenh.com/blizz78.html about the Blizzard of 1978. Somewhat to my amazement, several people find it via search engines every day.

  74. rrrobbie says:

    crosspatch in the reference to chemtrails click on the word “article” to access the reference which you might find compelling enough to turn you into a “loonie” yourself.

  75. Bill Newberry says:

    rrrobbie (15:47:53) :

    crosspatch in the reference to chemtrails click on the word “article” to access the reference which you might find compelling enough to turn you into a “loonie” yourself.

    rrrobbie,
    I made the mistake of clicking on the “article” and now have to agree with Crosspatch.
    Chemtrails=Loonies. What a crock of malarkey. Either these people are complete dingbats or, at best, mediocre story tellers.

  76. Tesla says:

    Maybe Benford’s law could be used to get a rough estimate of the number of data points that were fudged?

  77. Brian D says:

    An Alaskan volcano erupted back on 12 July in the Aleutians. Eruption column hit 15 km(49,200) or better, as reported here.
    http://www.volcano.si.edu/reports/usgs/

    This site for Alaskan volcanoes shows sulfur dioxide cloud movement and other info and pics.
    http://www.avo.alaska.edu/activity/Okmok.php

    But I’m most curious. I wonder how the fine ash will affect the Artic as it gets swirled around by the weather systems. Eruptions have been smaller since the main eruption, but it’s still going. The sulfur cloud moved south over the Pacific and North America from the initial eruptions.

  78. Andy Schlei says:

    Bill Newberry:

    You’ve got it exactly right. Chemtrails=loonies 100%. Same class of people who believe that we didn’t land on the Moon.

  79. edrusiecki says:

    i was on dewline from 61 to 65 two different contracts head radicians job was to make a path to the stevenson screen before inspections a lot of the guys used the temperature from the console/at a I site we taught the cook to give the report to the planes coming in.below freezing the wet bulb temp was too hard & long to do so a lot of the guys guessed i worked on several sites from one end of alaska to the other end of canada

  80. Jeff Alberts says:

    below freezing the wet bulb temp was too hard & long to do so a lot of the guys guessed i worked on several sites from one end of alaska to the other end of canada

    Why did they guess you worked on several sites?

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