NSIDC’s oops moment – uncoordinated changes make for an interesting 24 hours

Many of you are probably aware of some strange goings on over at The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) with their Arctic Sea ice graph, specifically, this one here:

You see, up until Tuesday morning, it looked like this:

If you have a keen eye, you might spot the difference, particularly in the proximity of the endpoint of the blue line to the 1979-2000 average line. How does sea ice extent go backwards you ask? Steve Goddard of real-science.com was first to spot it sent out an email notifying many people of his post titled: Breaking News : NSIDC Gets In The Data Tampering Act. I wasn’t convinced there was deliberate tampering going on, because it seemed to me to have all the marks of a processing glitch or something similar, and I made that fact known to many last night.

The two graphs (before and after on April 16th) overlaid look like this:

So not only did the extent change, going backwards, so did the climatology for computing the 2007 line and the 1979-2000 average line. This all came to light about 6PM PST Tuesday night. There was no announcement of this change on NSIDC’s website then.

While it would be easy to start pointing fingers, especially with the timing of the change (right before the extent line looked to cross the average line), I decided the best course of action would be to start asking questions before writing anything.

So I fired off emails to NSIDC’s Dr. Walt Meier and Julianne Stroeve. Strove responded first, within the hour, indicating that she could not see anything wrong, sending the image from NSIDC’s “internal network”, which is the middle graph above. That’s when I sent her the overlay (the bottom image combining the internal image she sent and the web page output image), showing that indeed there was something wrong. The light bulb went on. Walt Meier (who was traveling) responded about an hour later, with this speculation:

Hi Anthony,
Thanks for letting us know. I have a guess at what this might be.

We’re starting to make some changes to our processing to update/improve things, including some you’ve suggested. One thing that we’ve decided to do is to change the way we calculate our 5-day average values. We’ve been doing it as a centered average – i.e., a given day’s value in the plot is actually an average of that day + 2 days before and 2 days after. This caused an issue at the end point because we’d extrapolate to get a 5-day average on the last day, which resulted in wiggles at the end that.

We’re now changing it to be a trailing 5-day average, i.e., a given day’s value in the plot is the average of that day and the 4 preceding days. This will take out the wiggle in the end of the plot (or most of it – there may be some change as sometimes we don’t get complete data and need to interpolate, and later (a day or two) we do get the data and process it.

A key point is that this change doesn’t actually change the data at all; in effect it simply shifts values two days later. In other words, the centered value for Day X is the same as the trailing value for Day X+2.

This change has been implemented in our test environment and we were going to roll it out some time in near future after we tested it for a bit we planned to announce the change. I think that by accident the test code got put into production. I’d need to confirm this, but from the plot differences, this looks like what likely happened.

We’ll look into this and get back to you. I’m traveling tomorrow, but will send a note to people and I or others will get back to you as soon as we can.

walt

That seemed plausible to me, but clearly, both Meier and Strove were caught off guard, and having prominent skeptics alerting you that your most watched public output has gone haywire certainly can’t be comfortable. But, I run a bunch of servers making automated output myself, and I know how things happen. So I gave them the benefit of the doubt, particularly since they were communicating and concerned themselves.

This morning, about 14 hours after the problem was first noticed, this news item appeared on NSIDC’s web site:

Click the image for the story.

That still didn’t explain why Meier and Stroeve were blindsided with news last night from Steve Goddard and I. I queried them more, and as it turns out, they were out of the loop on the implementation. The hand and foot of NSIDC didn’t seem to have coordination on this, and it went online with no notice. Tonight, I got this email from Dr. Walt Meier that explained it:

Hi Steve, Anthony,

I think you’ve probably heard from Julienne and seen the posts we’ve made. But now that I have a chance to respond, I’ll add a few words of explanation and some thoughts. If you want to post these, you’re welcome to.

Thank you to both of you for noticing the issue and bringing it to our attention. Let me clarify (in case it’s not already clear) and provide some context. We are well aware that the daily timeseries plot, as we call it, is closely watched, particularly during the summer melt season. We’ve received various critiques of the plot, which we have taken under consideration to change when we got resources to do it. One them was the “wiggle” in the last two days of the plot. The plot was initially, and by and large still is, meant to provide a simplified glimpse of sea ice extent. The focus was on creating a clean, clear, easy to read, easy to understand graphic. As seen in other plots, the extent is often fairly noisy from day to day. Some of that variation reflects real changes, but much of it is due to limitations in the accuracy of the data or short-term weather effects, such as storm front blowing the ice one direction or another for a short period of time.

Thus, to reduce the noise and better reflect the seasonal trends we decided to use a 5-day average (5 days is a reasonable, though arbitrary, time period to reduce synoptic effects). We chose a centered average because that seemed the most logical. This means the average value is always 2 days behind the latest extent value. However, people wanted to see “today’s” value. So, we decided to provide preliminary values for those last two days by using a simple linear extrapolation. When we got enough data for a full centered 5-day average, we replaced that with the final values. However, this means that the values for the last two days change and one can get a “wiggle” in the data, particularly where there is a day or two of steep change because that day or two gets extrapolated out to 5 days. This can be misleading because, at least for a day or two, the slope may look more extreme than it really is.

I think you’re both familiar with this because it’s been commented on in the past, but I provide the background again for the full context. We refrained from changing it because of three reasons. First, after initial confusion, people understood it, so changing it could cause more confusion. Second, changing the averaging method would slightly change things in comparison with our previous analyses, namely, the date when minimum and maximum extents occur (a shift of two days). This is a minor change, but could cause some confusion. And finally, third, we wanted to make a few other changes and needed to plan resources to do them, so we put this on the list of things to do.

Last week we started to work on some changes. This was simply planning – looking at our processing, assessing what needed to be change. In the process, it was noted that changing the 5-day average would be simpler than we expected and could be done quickly. So I gave the go ahead to do this and was informed a couple days later that it had been done. However, there was some miscommunication. I was expecting that we wouldn’t put it into production immediately, but our developers assumed that it was good to go, so it went into production. Though the change had been discussed amongst all of us, the decision to do it right away happened fairly quickly and I don’t think Julienne was aware that it was in the process of being done.

In any event, what we have now implemented is a 5-day trailing average – in other words, the value plotted for a day is the average of that day and the four previous days. What this means is that there should no longer be a little. The data that we plot on a day should not change and we won’t be doing extrapolation. We think this is a better way to display the data and I think most would agree.

Another issue that wasn’t immediately noticed was that the climatology shifted more than the daily. This is because the climatology used a 9-day average. I don’t remember exactly why this was chosen, but I believe it was to make it look just a bit cleaner, though since it is an average, it already is pretty smooth. And since we were using a centered average, 5-day vs. 9-day, makes little difference. For example, the 5-day average for April 17 is 14.797 million sq km and the 9-day average is 14.801, a difference of 0.004 (4,000 sq km). Effectively, there is no difference because we estimate the precision to be on the order of 0.05 (50,000 sq km). So as long as both the daily and the climatology used a centered average, there was a consistent comparison.

However, when the centered average is moved to a trailing average there is a relative change between the 5-day daily, which slides 2 days, and the 9-day climatology, which slides 4 days. Thanks to Steve for noticing this and pointing it out. We should have it changed to a 5-day by tomorrow so that the comparison plot will again be consistent.

As for the timing of this, as mentioned above, it was mostly simply due to opportunity – we had a chance to make the change, so we decided to do it. Also, knowing that we’re heading toward the summer melt season, it was advantageous to make the change sooner rather than later. As the extent line steepens going through spring and into summer, the “wiggle” is often more noticeable. So making the change now would remove the issue for this summer’s melt season.

The fact that we made this change as the daily extent was nearing the average was entirely coincidental. It never actually entered my mind because I didn’t think it would make any difference (and it shouldn’t once we implement a 5-day average for the climatology). In fact, the change should help because we won’t be using extrapolation that can misleadingly make lines on the plot look closer than what the data really indicate.

Even using a 5-day average, short-term changes in the extent should be taken with some caution. It would be interesting if we did match or exceed the climatology, simply because it’s been several years since it happened. However, the ice near the edge now is all seasonal ice and quite thin and will melt fairly quickly. Any anomaly now will have little to no effect on the summer extent or the amount and thickness of multiyear ice.

As a final, personal note let me make a more general comment. I am saddened that some people have become so cynical about climate scientists and climate data. I can appreciate that scientists have brought some this on themselves. And of course, a healthy dose of skepticism is essential to science. But it is disappointing to see people immediately jump to conclusions and assume the worst. I hope people will take from this explanation that NSIDC, and scientists in general, are working hard to the best we can, both in understanding the science and communicating it. We’re not perfect, we make mistakes. When we find them or hear of them, we try to fix them as quickly as we can and to explain what happened as best we can. I’m proud of our team for working very hard today to address the issues, fix them, and answer questions. I think they did a great job today. And in my experience with other climate scientist, I’ve seen nothing other than that same level of dedication.

Thank you,

Walt Meier

So in a nutshell, NSIDC made a goof in implementation, and in communications. I could find all sorts of criticism for that, but I think they are probably punishing themselves far more than anything critical I might say, so I’ll just let the incident speak for itself.

I will say this though, I can’t even begin to fault them for being upfront and quickly communicative. That is a rare trait in a government agency, so on that basis, they get high marks from me, as well as my thanks. I’m fully satisfied with the explanation.

On Thursday, we’ll likely see this problem rectified, and this time I’m pretty sure I’ll get an email in advance or at the time it happens. I look forward to seeing the changes. On the plus side Dr. Meier tells me that they plan to make the raw extent data available, and that will of course allow us to plot ourselves.

=======================================

UPDATE: 4/19 9AM PST NSIDC has the new corrected graph online – see this story


		
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155 thoughts on “NSIDC’s oops moment – uncoordinated changes make for an interesting 24 hours

  1. now that you have their attention, can you ask why they use a 21 year avg period (1979-2000) instead of a full 30 years?

  2. Marcos says:
    April 18, 2012 at 11:04 pm
    now that you have their attention, can you ask why they use a 21 year avg period (1979-2000) instead of a full 30 years?

    Simple. We didn’t have any unclassified satellite photos from the Arctic until 1979.

  3. With all regards, in these heightened days of climate awareness, the poor communication and implementation skills are very revealing. Science is supposed to be an area of exacting detail and what we continue to see is the complete opposite. Maybe Hansen could transfer in?

  4. A rare, possibly unprecedented, piece of honesty from government funded climate scientists.

    Memo to Mann et alia: Here is a good role model for you.

  5. At the same time, can you ask them why they have not moved the average period forward 10 years? Or even extended same average from 1979-2010 as noted by Marcos?

  6. First, let me congratulate both Dr Walt and Anthony on this interchange, kudos to you both. That’s how it should work.

    My only other comment to Dr. Walt, about his final comment:

    As a final, personal note let me make a more general comment. I am saddened that some people have become so cynical about climate scientists and climate data. I can appreciate that scientists have brought some this on themselves. And of course, a healthy dose of skepticism is essential to science. But it is disappointing to see people immediately jump to conclusions and assume the worst. I hope people will take from this explanation that NSIDC, and scientists in general, are working hard to the best we can, both in understanding the science and communicating it.

    Dr. Walt, people distrust climate scientists because, as climategate made perfectly clear, we were lied to and cheated by the leaders of the AGW movement, the key players in the game.

    And while I am very clear that you are a good guy and an ethical scientist, and while I know you were not one of those that lied and cheated, you were indeed one of the many who said nothing after the lies were exposed. You are one of those who continues to act towards the people who did lie to us as though they had never done anything wrong. Very few climate scientists have spoken out against the outrageous scientific malfeasance and even lawbreaking by the AGW glitterati. Even fewer climate scientists have tried to get those that lied and cheated to apologize, or to pay even the slightest price for their actions. Y’all still fete them and invite them to address the conferences as though nothing untoward every happened.

    So I’m sorry, Dr. Walt, but you are condemned by your silence and by your inaction to be subjected to the same opprobrium and the same mistrust as those who actually did lie, cheat, steal, subvert the IPCC, destroy evidence and encourage others to do so, pack the peer-revew boards, and try to get editors fired for publishing science that they disagreed with.

    Next, we are not “cynical” about climate scientists. We are realistic about climate scientists. We got screwed by your fearless leaders, and you and most of the rest said nothing, not one damn word of protest … now you seem surprised and say you are “saddened” that we don’t trust you. Mistrust is the realistic and expected response to being lied to, it is not cynicism in any form.

    One final point. For you to feel “saddened” is totally inappropriate, and it is part of the reason we still don’t trust you.

    I feel saddened, and I am entitled to, because I fought hard against the loss of trust. I have done everything I could to call the culprits to account, and I have been thwarted in part by the obstinate silence of the quietly complicit … so yes, I feel sad about that.

    You have no right feel saddened, you forfeited that by your silence. You should feel responsible, because you said and did nothing . The fact that you feel sad instead of feeling responsible is just one more reason why we don’t trust you.

    You guys seem to think that this mistrust will go away if you ignore it … sorry. It doesn’t go away, it just gets hangs out and even gets worse, as this latest episode amply illustrates. I don’t know what you might do about it at this late date, you’ve left it awfully long to take a principled stand, but if I were in your shoes, I’d be doing something other than saying you feel sad.

    w.

  7. Bill Tuttle says:
    April 18, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    Simple. We didn’t have any unclassified satellite photos from the Arctic until 1979.

    Bill, i was thinking more along the lines of 1979-2009

  8. They MUST prevent arctic sea ice extent from going above the means, lest CAGW related funding is jeopardized.

  9. Bill Tuttle says:
    April 18, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    Marcos says:
    April 18, 2012 at 11:04 pm

    now that you have their attention, can you ask why they use a 21 year avg period (1979-2000) instead of a full 30 years?

    Simple. We didn’t have any unclassified satellite photos from the Arctic until 1979.

    Since that’s more than thirty years, I’m not sure why that’s relevant. They could use the thirty year period 1979-2010 …

    w.

  10. “On the plus side Dr. Meier tells me that they plan to make the raw extent data available, and that will of course allow us to plot ourselves.”

    Very well done indeed. If only the temperature wallahs did the same we would live in a calmer world. (kama? :-) )

  11. Bill Tuttle says:
    April 18, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    Simple. We didn’t have any unclassified satellite photos from the Arctic until 1979.

    You do realize that you didn’t even come close to answering the question. Both UAH and RSS temperature series now use 20 30 year averages and they both start in 1979/80. What you failed to grasp is that there is now should be 30 years of available satellite data for them to use 1981-2010.

  12. boballab says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    April 18, 2012 at 11:36 pm

    Both UAH and RSS temperature series now use 20 year averages

    Gah this what I get for staying up late. The above should be Both UAH and RSS temperature series now use 30 year averages.

    [Fixed. -w.]

  13. I still dont understand. My problem with this issue was not the moving 5 day average, but the historical mean. Can someone explain why the historical mean shifted?

    :-/…

  14. Walt Meier is PRECISELY the kind of guy we need in generating these important data. I agree with him – it is sad to see scientists tarred and feathered because of the actions of several vociferous, nortorious few.

    It shows the importance of clean and transparent data. Hats off to him…

  15. Why use any gray zone at all? Plot the data, all of it. Not difficult. Or the actual data range. Again not difficult.

    The “2 standard deviations” is an artifact of some damn T-test. I hate that crap. Why not 2.1 “standard deviations? Or 1.9? The statistical theory behind it is not applicable in this case. What happened is what happened and I would rather see the actual data than some artificial 95% confidence limit on a known set. Map the data not some aberrant tweak of it, you know?

    BTW, the “average” is a mythical creature. Not real. Just a smoother. Never happened like that.

  16. Yay, thanks Anthony, that does explain the change in the Antarctic graph as well, even tho not mentioned. They do other adjustments that I’ve seen mentioned before, like for reflectivity of water-on-ice during the melt season, etc, and that would also cause offsetting conditions between Arctic and Antarctic, if treated (anti) symmetrically. However, note the 5-day average used. This wouldn’t be needed if each day’s measurement was robust. There is obviously a lot of noise compared with the signal. A few assumptions can help to minimize that noise, and somewhere in that code, I’ll bet, some are built in. Worth watching onwards. Trust, but verify.

  17. HLx: Very good point. What caused the line representing the period from 1979 through 2000 to change? There never was a problem with wiggles at its end point (it has no end point) and changing from a 5 day moving average to a 9 day moving average when plotting 2012 temperatures has little to do with data that’s already over 12 years old.

  18. If they showed the average trend 1979-2010 …I imagine everything would appear in the shaded area. Not so alarmist then.

  19. Some discussion about why they don’t post a 30 year average not the 1979-2000 average . My opinion is that they are deliberately wanting to compare “today” with what the average was between 1979-2000, so you can see the difference. That is, the graph is set up to compare any given year with how it “used to be”.

  20. Anthony:

    You wrote;

    “So in a nutshell, NSIDC made a goof in implementation, and in communications. I could find all sorts of criticism for that, but I think they are probably punishing themselves far more than anything critical I might say, so I’ll just let the incident speak for itself.

    I will say this though, I can’t even begin to fault them for being upfront and quickly communicative. That is a rare trait in a government agency, so on that basis, they get high marks from me, as well as my thanks. I’m fully satisfied with the explanation.”

    AMEN!
    We need to commend the good as well as exposing the bad. Sadly, there has been – and is – so much which is bad in climate science that it is easy tio overlook the good.

    Error correction is a part of sustaining standards and we need to congratulate people when they take prompt action to check, admit, explain and erradicate mistakes as NSIDC has done in this case.

    NSIDC, good job, well done!

    Richard

  21. Dr Walt, upon re-reading my post above I realize that you have been the unlucky recipient of my frustration with climate scientists not cleaning up their own back yard.

    I want to emphasize that I think you are an honest scientist. In addition, you have been one of the few mainstream climate scientists willing to expose your ideas to the harsh uncensored light of the web, whether here or elsewhere. You are not one of those whose climategate correspondence convicted them in their own words of lies and behind-the-scenes machinations, your name is nowhere mentioned. You have been clear and responsive about difficulties with the information you provide, including this latest case. My honest opinion is that you are a good man.

    Unfortunately, as they say, for corruption to triumph, it only requires that good men do nothing …

    w.

  22. Its only by people like watts up with that that climate advocates will be prevented from telling a whole pack of lies. Well done.

  23. “But it is disappointing to see people immediately jump to conclusions and assume the worst.”

    When I see the name “Walt Meier” I don’t assume the worst. He has earned respect.

    However the same cannot be said of others, nor of the government in general. Therefore anything which does not pass the smell-test draws immediate scrutiny. After all, there are ways to get around an honest man, and honest men can even be replaced.

    Speaking of drawing scrutiny, there is something funny going on at the NOAA “ENSO Cycle” site, at http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/lanina/enso_evolution-status-
    fcsts-web.pdf

    Pages 27 and 28 hold two models of what the ENSO is predicted to do, the old CFS model (which soon will be discontinued,) and the new CFSV2 model.

    On the left hand side of both pages are a series of maps which show how the sea temperatures are suppose to evolve. In the typical manner above normal is red, and below normal is blue. Near normal is white.

    What I find odd is that the old CFS model has a fair amount of white on its maps. The CFSV2 maps are very scarlet.

    In honor of Walt, I will try not to jump to any conclusions. However I will point the change out, so people more skilled at sifting data than I am can focus on why the maps so abruptly get so much redder. (The scale seems to be the same.)

  24. Willis, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.
    He quickly fessed up to his own mini snafu and dealt with it like a true scientist.
    Getting seriously involved in the whole climategate thing involves taking a lot of time out to study what the various protaganists actually said and ditto for checking their sources.
    Its easy to stand in the bleachers and shout with the crowd but a lot harder to deliver a serious performance on the field.
    That is, if you see the whole thing as a very black and white us and them scenario.
    If you see it as a whole spectrum of opinions and a hotchpotch of half baked grand theories and a tartan weave of interlacing ideas then it makes a lot less sense to be throwing your weight about.
    If Walt were my employee, I’d be expecting him to devote the bulk of his time to my business, concentrate on getting his science right and only speaking out where he saw things awry in his area of expertise.

  25. MattB:

    re your post at April 19, 2012 at 12:21 am, nobody knows “how it used to be”.

    The graph shows how ice cover has been varied in the recent few decades since satelite data has been obtained.

    We have historical data which indicates times of less ice than in those recent decades, but that data cannot be posted on the graph.

    So, your “opinion” is wrong.

    Richard

  26. Damn, Willis, don’t be so restrained! I concur, silence from an authority figure who knows/suspects the given line is false/compromising reinforces a falsehood and/or reduces other perspectives – guilty. However, perceived self-preservation and comfort will always affect a significant percentage of us. The process must remain a major rule. The rule of process, not the rule of self/consensus.must rein. Ha, the never ending challenge.

  27. Anthomy

    Glad to see that you are now running with this one, which I first saw on Steve Goddard’s site, but he does not have the following/volume you have. So very useful that it is on your site..

    Congratulations on how you have handled matters. Very good to see that you got involved and the exchanges are interesting.

  28. I love it how Arctic ice prior to 1979 is assumed somehow to be thicker and greater in extent. We have very little accurate evidence either way for that and the further we go back the less evidence we have. What I have observed is that the outer regions of Arctic ice fluctuate massively and much of that depends upon local weather events rather than global climate shifts and that the core Arctic ice can be likewise influenced. However, there does seem to have been some warming since the late seventies and a reduction in that core Arctic ice, but that may well be reaching a reversal point. It will be interesting to watch over the next few years, especially as any recovery would be a real death blow to AGW and boy do the main protagonists know it, hence the healthy skepticism concerning any changes to such data. After all you can fudge some of the data some of the time but you can’t fudge all of the data all of the time!

  29. It would appear that this is an innocent change – although the timing is highly questionable.

    The evidence is that it was implemented in a hurry without proper consultation just before the graph turned in the sceptic favour.

    Cherry picking …. picking valid data that just happens to support a point of view.

    Upjusting … the selection of data which in themselves are apparently innocent choices but which consistently create a bias in the data by cherry picking analytical tools that support a point of view.

  30. I would really like to see the average of this graph extended. I don’t like the 2000 cut off. Too many graphs are chopping out the cooling from ’98 onward. When is that going to change? We’re already into 2012. They can’t keep dragging it out. It’s going to look bloody stupid if we’re still looking at a graph cut off at 2000 when we’re at 2015 or 2020 or 2050. It looks bad enough now.

    And I still agree with Willis. He has the point exactly right. Climategate should have raised the hackles of every scientist. Silence is not the answer and never will be. If it weren’t for the few speaking out, we’d be knee-deep in socialism right now.

  31. Whatever way the data is presented, there is clearly something odd going on with Arctic ice. I find it strange that everyone seems much more interested in the NSIDC than the icecap itself. In a short space of time, the ice cover has gone from below the 2007 level to close to the 1979-2000 average. What seems to be happening is that the ice is melting much slower than in previous years.
    Does anyone have any comments on or possible explanations for this phenomenon ?

  32. Thanks Antony, perhaps there are a few scientists out there involved in climate research who still have a moral/ethical code and live up to it. Hat tip to them.

  33. I still don’t get why the average (black) line has been amended. Is that to do with the 5 vs 9 day too? Well done Walt and team for being so responsive, by the way.

  34. Excellent work, Anthony. Even such small chores as getting data transparency is a big deal. And finding scientists open and communicative is a win-win for everyone. Thanks.

  35. Last thought – is it just me or the period in the linked article that makes track lower on the upslope and higher on the down?

  36. Thanks for the explanation and the follow-up. . A plus point to Steven for the careful tracking!
    I can understand the feeling as expressed by Walt Meier, but trust it is important also for the keepers of the data to understand that they got the attention of the skeptic community and all the adjustments are closely watched.
    There are many reasons why skeptics track now very closely all these graphs as these have been often misused and adjusted to support somebodies view or theory:

    http://suyts.wordpress.com/2012/04/11/this-isnt-about-the-climate/

    Very difficult to understand at a later time what had happened at the time of adjustment if there is no clarity. For instance at the sea level tracking, there was a 7 mm adjusting up of the sea level in 2007. The adjusting was not added as difference between 2006-2007 but for the whole period 1993-2007.
    The adjustment are evident if one tracks back the previous year values. A german skeptic group used the way back archive for this:

    http://hockeyschtick.blogspot.com/2012/04/analysis-finds-satellite-data-has-been.html

    It is evident also in checking the UC data as communicated in each year which shows values at or under 1mm for the years since 2005, but the total graph shows 3mm+ for these years.

    http://suyts.wordpress.com/2012/04/10/sea-level-rises-to-new-lows/

  37. boballab says:
    April 18, 2012 at 11:36 pm
    You do realize that you didn’t even come close to answering the question. Both UAH and RSS temperature series now use 20 30 year averages and they both start in 1979/80.

    I answered the 1979 part correctly, so can I get a partial credit?

  38. You take an average, 5 day or 9 day or whatever, and then you have a problem: what date — that is, x axis value — do you assign to this time average. The honest date is one in the center. Assigning a date that corresponds to the most recent day in the average makes no sense unless you want to confuse the issue. Why not just live with a 2-day delay for the average value? People who want the very latest values can look at the raw, unaveraged data.

    Assigning a time value to a trailing average that corresponds to the time of the last value used in the trailing average is, by the way, done all the time in time-averaged stock market graphs. There the stock analysts want to compare the latest stock price to the time-average to see whether it has gone above or below that time averaged value that should properly be set back in the past (how far in the past depends, of course, on how much time has been averaged over). Hence they push the graph of the time average forward so it directly creates this comparison — and they do it by assigning a time to the time average that corresponds to the latest stock value put into the average. This is, of course, exactly what the ice-coverage people have done here. As a quick way of comparing stock prices this procedure may make some sense, but when talking about physical processes it does not. They should go back to the old way of plotting their time-average data and not try to extrapolate in order to guess what the last several data points will be. So what if the rest of us have to wait for those last few average values until they actually exist!

  39. I don’t wonder they decided to change the method if they were getting accused of manipulating the data (clearly mostly from ‘skeptic’ side) as the end of the graph wiggled with more data being added. This new way is rock solid, any added point will just stay in place and I think it’s no problem that what they reall did was that they just cut off the last two days of the old graph.
    And that they did not fit individual parts of the graph correctly on the first attempt – things like that happen, we’re only humans. It’s good to see they handled it in a professional way.

  40. Anthony,
    Is there anything that would make it unseemingly for you to provide a version of the Sea Ice graph that contained an estimate for the missing years’ data? Just doing so for a single month would give us some notion of how much (or how little) is being introduced in using the shortened series.

  41. Willis- that seems a little harsh to lump Walt into that catagory. I don’t ever remember him being arrested, or acting like a fool or not responding FULLY to even the slightest criticism. I’ll be the first to jump headlong into the fray, but I’ll give quarter to Dr. Meier.

  42. Why didn’t they just change to a two or three day trailing average for the end of the graph while leaving the rest of it at the centered 5 day average? Couldn’t be that much harder to implement in the plotting software. Add a conditional check to the averaging code for when it gets to the latest date in the data.

    With that, the graph wouldn’t have shifted and the “wiggle” at the end as the plot advanced would go away. The vast majority of people watching that would never have noticed any change.

  43. To Walt Meier, and I hope you are reading here: You answered swiftly. You gave a great deal of info, allowing people to work things out and see where you were going. You were polite.
    I’m sure there’s a lot more you did there (but my time is limited). So: We could use more people like you, and a great deal LESS people like mann, billy Connolley, et al.

  44. Is the arctic sea Ice above normal now or is it further away from being above normal because of this change?
    The praise that the NSIDC is receiving for their quick excuses for this uncorrected mistake is baffling,
    The arctic lost about one quarter of a million square kilometers of sea ice over night according to this graph, I’ve seen enough untimely adjustments to data in recent years, I don’t believe the official excuses of processing glitches, lack of communication with developers making the important decisions to go live without rigorous testing. But I guess it’s all my fault for having too much mistrust in climate science and those behind the scenes. It’s all just an honest mistake they said so in a nice e-mail so it must be true.

    Maybe Mann, Hanson, Al Gore and all the other CAGW proponents are actually correct but just misunderstood as well, if only they wrote a nice e-mail saying how sad they were that you didn’t trust them.

  45. Whatever average is used, the plot is showing a recovery of Arctic ice cover towards the ‘normal’ range 1979 – 2000.

    Can we call off the impending doom of the missing ice once the current year crosses back above the ‘normal’?

    No one has been able to explain to me why it should make any difference at all, even if the entire Arctic Ocean became ice free. We know the ice extent around 1000 AD was much smaller than today’s. Yet, somehow, all the animals in the region survived and there was no runaway global warming due to melting permafrost, halted ocean currents, fresh water floods into the oceans, etc.

    What exactly would happen if the ice cap should disappear in the near future and there was an ice free Arctic Ocean?

  46. I’ll have to go with Willis on this one. Because it’s plain to see that this is just one more example of every government agency “adjustment” going in the most alarming direction; which is, as always, in the direction of increased funding. What are the odds, eh?

    But at least Dr Meier isn’t hiding out, I’ll give him that.

  47. I’ve been following these ice changes for years, and as I have repeated on this site repeatedly, watch out for NH ice downwards adjustments when NH ice approximates or goes over their fabricated “mean”. Note lack of movement on NORSEX. As I said they CANNOT allow NH ice to go above normal it is a BASIC premise of the AGW. If this got out to MSM it would erode AGW to nothing. They cannot fiddle with SH ice because it is one single mass and presto it has been ABOVE anomaly for many many years now. Ironically CT has the NH ice close to normal and up to date. Maybe they are getting ready to face the music.

  48. Actually after reading Steve Goddards site on this subject, I think we need to be much much more direct with these people here. He and maybe Bastardi and Climate Depot seem to taking these people on directly with detailed assessment of the data and then catching them blatantly attempting fraud. What in H##’s would have happened in Goddard had NOT reported this?

  49. richardbriscoe says:
    April 19, 2012 at 1:14 am
    “Whatever way the data is presented, there is clearly something odd going on with Arctic ice. I find it strange that everyone seems much more interested in the NSIDC than the icecap itself. In a short space of time, the ice cover has gone from below the 2007 level to close to the 1979-2000 average. What seems to be happening is that the ice is melting much slower than in previous years.
    Does anyone have any comments on or possible explanations for this phenomenon ?”

    The sun is going into a Dalton type minimum. There wasn’t much real warming going on, it was more a matter of Hansen coloring the Arctis red where he has no thermometers, and the little warming there was is now gone, see UAH record, we’re back where we were in 1980 or so, all due to the double dip La Nina. My guess is that we will continue to see very short and weak El Nino’s and strong and long La Nina’s and we will go down the temperature scale stepwise.

    We will see a lot of adjustment activity in the climate research institutes as they try to save their warming, inventing ever more ludicrous reasons for adjustments. NSIDC is a small fish. Satellites will “fail”. ENVISAT already has.

  50. It’s more sensible that when you are in a hole “not to start digging”. So I can draw no conclusions.

  51. I think you have fallen for another trick this time. Its very obvious to me that they are under pressure to not allow the wiggle to go over the normal. Poor ol Walt and Co have been forced to change something, anything to not allow the wiggle to go over the line. Why? because it ALWAYS occurs when the wiggle gets to close to the normal. Just check ALL changes implemented to programs data etc over the past 15 years when ice was about to go over. Suggested research for Goddard…. I prefer Goddards approach take no prisoners

  52. >>Willis Eschenbach says:
    >> … as climategate made perfectly clear, we were lied to and cheated by the leaders of the AGW movement, the key players in the game …

    Well put Willis !

  53. “I can appreciate that scientists have brought some this on themselves.”

    While Dr. Walt is clearly an honourable guy, he’s attempting to split the difference here.. Climate scientists have brought ALL this on themselves; firstly, through direct malfeasance, secondly, through indirect near-universal silence regarding the malfeasance and subsequent white-washing of such.

    While unfortunate, it doesn’t sadden me that the villagers didn’t come to the aid of the boy who had fraudulently cried wolf (numerous times) when the wolf finally attacked him in reality. Did some of the responsibility for what ultimately happened to the boy lie with the villagers? Of course not. The boy had never been straight with anyone on the matter. When skeptics see something funky with data presentation, we automatically assume the possibility to which we have been conditioned — by climate scientists and politicians and “journalists”.

    This is not just past history — it continues to the present day. Just last week, the ‘blue marble’ blog on Mother Jones published a piece on ‘disappearing’ arctic ice, using a NASA video which included a version of the sea ice plot (here on the sea ice page) with the final downward plot from late 2011. The author, Julia Whitty, made no note of the most recent striking upward plot and record freeze-up duration. Nor did she when I pointed it out. No one did so among the haranguing commenters when I pointed it out, only a subdued silence when it dawned on them what had actually happened. Such an admission wouldn’t fit the ‘narrative’, would it? Just like all the myriad other truncating and adjusting of data to present a ‘cooked’ trend.

    So, until Dr. Walt and all the silent others come clean about their complicity in this whole dirty business, sadness is not the emotion that animates.Sorry.

  54. Jack Simmons says:
    April 19, 2012 at 2:23 am

    Whatever average is used, the plot is showing a recovery of Arctic ice cover towards the ‘normal’ range 1979 – 2000.
    _____________________________

    Not really, IMO. After 2007, the arctic appears to have entered a new annual cycle profile which is characterized by going way up during spring and way down during fall (relative to long-time average).

    I don’t see any real rising trends there yet.

  55. Wills is right. His first comment says it for me. His second comment ‘for corruption to triumph..’ puts me in mind of what happend in Europe during the second world war. Especially today. Lots of’ good men’ remained silent. Its not on the same scale as that but many people have suffered hunger and starvation even death because of what these activists have done.

  56. Willis, agreed. Think of a moral pendulum, which to the left of centre denotes bad, to the right of centre denotes good. Dr Meier sits in the centre, because while he has shown no bad (that we can be aware of) he also shows a lack of good in failing to have outed the ones on the bad left.
    In my field, if you went left you went to jail. If you stayed in the middle, you ended up out of the industry and driving a cab. If you were in the right right, well, that’s where your colleagues were. Your harshest and fastest critics were often your closest friends, because they knew best what you did and when you made errors.
    As to smoothing, please delete it from the book of methods as much as is possible. A measurement made at a certain time is a measurement made at a certain time, period. Please resist fiddling with it.

  57. This cannot be the whole story, it does NOT explain the changes to the average line. KEEP PUSHING!

  58. Marcos says:
    April 18, 2012 at 11:04 pm
    now that you have their attention, can you ask why they use a 21 year avg period (1979-2000) instead of a full 30 years?
    ——————————————————-
    There is a hidden sub-text that the period 1979-2000 represents a stable time for Arctic ice and we have entered a non-stable time. To compare one year to such a short time period is meaningless. This will be clear when the ice extent starts increasing again and climate scientists move to a new “lower” average to predict the next ice age.

  59. ” the climatology used a 9-day average. I don’t remember exactly why this was chosen, but I believe it was to make it look just a bit cleaner,”

    HOw about letting the natural variation that comes NATURALLY be in the graph. No one but those from AGW or ignorant of science would expect smooth curves.

    When all other parameters are being adjusted to favor a warming condition, it is no wonder that, when you do so at the same time, we conclude you have the same motivation and goals. It’s a no brainer. When a citizen runs out of a bank with a gun at the same time as the bank robbers, they surely look guilty—in this case one has to prove their innocence, in court.

  60. I think Willis was on point with the first comment. While we all obviously applaud Mr (Dr?) Meier for being so honest and open – it was him who first sought to counter-punch with the “Im saddend” paragraph. I think Willis called him out on it, and rightly so.
    Mr Meier, you obviously have integrity and dignity. If more like you could make your voices heard, science would be all the better for it.

  61. OK I can understand why the daily trace has changed but why have the 2007 and 1979-2000 traces also changed?

  62. I’m with Willis when he says “First, let me congratulate both Dr Walt and Anthony on this interchange, kudos to you both. That’s how it should work….”. I can’t think that open factually based science and the questioning of the facts and the analysis can cause the emotion of sadness. Scientific facts are cold simple things, as is their interpretation. They have no emotions and should not arouse emotions. Just being pedantic I think sadness is a good emotion that we let ourselves feel when something we wouldn’t wish on ourselves happens to someone and we sincerely wish it didn’t. In climate “science” facts have been ignored, manipulated, distorted, misinterpreted, withheld and enhanced which is a disrepectful and dishonest thing to do to the people who need the facts and their interpretation (i.e. the knowledge) and this deserves a strong reaction. Anyone who knows about this and remains silent won’t get any sympathy from me. The whole advanced world as we know it requires people to be honest. Ignoring corruption whether it be of scientific principles and procedures or of government or business processes deserves the strongest reactions – being saddened as a result of these reactions is being a little bit precious. Look at it another way – if it was all out in the open without anything being ignored, manipulated, distorted, misinterpreted, withheld and enhanced then I don’t think there would be any antagonism -it would be just exciting discovery – and people would have different ideas but no-one would have reason to be sad. Scientists are the ones who are claiming modelling is science – it isn’t. Acquiring data and testing the models is science because that is testing the hypothesis behind the model. If the ice don’t melt then any model that says it should is wrong. Nothing to get excited about but not to be ignored either. But a scientist who won’t revise his hypothesis and his model given contradictory data deserves criticism and scorn. Sadness has got nothing to do with it. Introducing “sadness” is a patronising ploy to avoid apologising.

  63. Smile, believe them, agree with them when they tell the truth (finally) but never forget to count your fingers after you shake there hand and I’m sorry to say if it sadden’s you that we have to count our fingers after shaking your hand blame the guy before who nicked my watch last time I shock hands, I will not name names but there was a bloke with a hockey stick and another that was head of ethics at some political group.

  64. I haven’t heard this ever said before so I will be the first to coin the phrase.

    “If the data doesn’t fit you must resubmit”

  65. It does seem a remarkable coincidence that this occurred precisely when it looked as if the lines were about to cross, but I’m inclined to give Dr. Meier the benefit of the doubt – probably….
    Having said that, I do wonder if he is under any pressure to stop the lines from crossing.
    Overall, he does appear to be an honorable man. What a contrast with some people we could name!
    .
    I agree with Willis 110%. Evil is often created by evil men, but it can be the silence of the good people that allows the evil to flourish. Of course, fear is a major factor. If Dr. Meier spoke out against the ongoing corruption of climate science, how would it affect his career?
    .
    The recent letter by NASA senior managers and astronauts was dramatic, but how many still work for NASA? My gues is that they’re all retired now, so they don’t have to worry about jobs or pensions. I seriously doubt that they all experienced a revelation about NASA’s climate dogma on the very day they retired. So why didn’t they speak out when they still worked for NASA? The answer is pretty obvious. And very sad.
    Chris

  66. Simple. We didn’t have any unclassified satellite photos from the Arctic until 1979.

    This is incorrect. There are various satellite images, including as far back as Nimbus I of 1964 and Tiros from 1962. I have worked with the NSIDC on these images and they are being incorporated into the knowledge base.

    You may see this in more peer reviewed work than on websites though.

  67. To quote the good Dr. Meier, “However, people wanted to see “today’s” value.”

    Why not just present the DATA! All the contortions, all the averaging, all the extrapolations, all the movement of data across so many papers, NGO’s, press releases, UHI’s, grid ‘wrestling,’ data projecting to places without real data… Contortion after contortion, adjustment after adjustment, after projection… GOD, CAN YOU PLEASE STOP!!! AAAAHHHHHHHHHH!

    Just present the totally uncensored data! We’ll save taxpayer money & we’ll get the truth!

  68. AND, to implement this final contortion, they have to go back & change all the historical data as well. If they explained this, I apologize, I’m out of patience.

  69. An averaging operator, zero phase, always outputs at its centre.

    Averaging for the previous X number of days always means your output is going to be half an operator length in error.

    It’s a ‘completely baked’ way to process data.

  70. The only way to “never do anything wrong” is to “never do anything”.

    Things happen. The keen skeptical eyesight is laudable. The lengthy explanation is appreciated. The final paragraph of the explanation represents a reasonable reaction of an honorable person to being “lumped in” with the rapscallions (innocent until proven guilty in USA).

  71. Willis,

    In addition, the Climategate emails show the mechanism used to rid “climate science” of anyone “not a team player”. The details of that mechanism are well known here. The bottom line is that anyone who has survived the purge of heretics is suspect.

    I am saddened that this has happened, but it is the direct result of the actions discussed in the Climategate emails. Those authors (of the emails) have gained our contempt the old fashioned way: they have earned it.

    Are they all poltroons? No, but since only a poltroon would be allowed by the CAGW establishment, they are all suspect.

    Dr. Meier seems like a decent fellow and a responsible scientist worthy of respect. I might suggest that he be cautious, though. Should the sea ice extent move above the average, his career could be in jeopardy. (Probably not now but it could have happened a year ago.)

    Regards,
    Steamboat Jack (Jon Jewett’s evil twin.)

  72. The ice extent is declining by about 35,000 sq. kms per day at this time of year, so any difference in the centre-point of the averaging or the number of days used in each or having one as a trailing average and the other as a centred moving average is going to mean …

    … the lines are not comparable.

    This is just a basic math issue that they should have been able to undertand was a problem before they implemented it (especially if they had been planning for this for several months).

    I have (a form) of the daily data and it doesn’t make much difference if you use a 5 day average or a 9 day average. There is still variability. Averaging all years with a 9 day average going all the way back to 1972 still does not give you a nice smooth declining line. It stil varies around the basic trend up and down by 10,000 sq kms per day or so. So, there is no basis to use a 9 day average versus a 5 day average. There is just variability and anyone who charts it will be able to figure that out. Just give us the data. If everyone has the data, there will be self-policing to make sure it is not misused.

    Finally, something very unusual is going on with the Arctic ice is the last few months. The extent has really gone against the typical trend for this time of year. That is the big story here.

  73. Smokey says:
    April 19, 2012 at 2:33 am
    I’ll have to go with Willis on this one. Because it’s plain to see that this is just one more example of every government agency “adjustment” going in the most alarming direction; which is, as always, in the direction of increased funding. What are the odds, eh?
    ===================
    changing the averaging to take out more noise…and show less ice….in the present
    while not changing the averaging to take out more noise…and show less ice in the past

    ….will do what ?

    It will show a decrease in ice on their charts and graphs

  74. When Jaxa started making the daily data available, all it did was improve everyone’s understanding and, let’s say, increase people’s attention on the Arctic ice extent. NSIDC should be able to see the benefit of that. Now that AMSR-E is no longer available, here we are again arguing about graphs.

  75. “I hope people will take from this explanation that NSIDC, and scientists in general, are working hard to the best we can, both in understanding the science and communicating it.”
    Methinks Walt doth protest too much. He needs to spare us the crocodile tears, and direct his passive-aggression into anger towards his fellows who have created this situation.

  76. There is a basic rule of organizationial structures-”Never embarass a bureaucrat”. My congratulations to Dr. Meier on being a scientist and dealing in the facts of the event.

    A bureaucrat would have announced that ” the staff responsibile for the previously erroneous graphing have left the agency to pursue other career paths”.

    Well done.

  77. Let me add to the sentiments here that I am also impressed and satisfied with the NSIDC response to this issue. Good job on all accounts.

    Chris Wright says:
    April 19, 2012 at 4:40 am

    It does seem a remarkable coincidence that this occurred precisely when it looked as if the lines were about to cross, but I’m inclined to give Dr. Meier the benefit of the doubt

    Have NO fear – the lines WILL cross! Bwahahahaaa! Then the sky will turn purple and a new ice age will arise… /sarc

  78. Mr. Eschenbach,

    You of all people should know, and appreciate, the value of redemption. Dr. Meier may indeed be guilty of silent compliance as you so forcefully point out. That does not mean he can’t redeem himself. In fact, your back-peddling second post indicates you recognize your over reach.

    This exchange between Mr. Watts and Dr. Meier’s surely reveals a scientist who is aware of the situation, sensitive to the implications of an unannounced change, and willing to roger up that his organization can do a better job in the future.

    That, my friend, is most assuredly redemptive behavior.

    Thank you Mr. Watt and Dr. Meier.

    Andy Wehrle

  79. blackswhitewash.com says:
    April 19, 2012 at 12:27 am

    So it was all just a coincidence. Nothing political or ideological happening at all.

    blackswhitewash,

    If I let myself be primarily cynical then I remain very skeptical of the coincidence between being very near the average and the occurrence of the error (explained by Meier) that takes the current value away downward from the average. But in this instance I will suppress my cynicism and I do sincerely thank Meier, Goddard and Watts for efforts to provide sharp focus and correction in the matter.

    ‘Eagle-Eye’ is my new nickname for Steve Goddard. : )

    John

  80. Frank K. It does seem a remarkable coincidence that this occurred precisely when it looked as if the lines were about to cross,

    It would seem most likely that all we were told is true: that they were considerating the change blah blah. Nothing wrong with that.

    But that someone seeing that the lines were about to cross, decided to bring forward the change, which seems to be supported by the surprise.

    From their perspective it probably looks entirely innocent. Someone had a bit of spare time and got on with the job early … it was going to happen any way so why are these sceptics getting so het up.

    From our perspective, it is something we see all the time. There are numerous examples of things which could be interpreted as innocent, but as a whole show at least a “groupthink” bias in one direction if not a co-ordinated campaign to distort the truth.

    As I say, time and time again, particularly when it comes to peer review. The whole system is slanted in one direction and it appears to be almost acceptable to “upjust” the data/analysis when and where they like.

    it’s all one vicious cycle. Those who go along with this “upjusting” get promotions, get grants, get publications. Those who resist, do not. Eventually everyone is “upjusted” to the new “consensus” that putting a little bit of bias is OK. This allows even more bias by the extremists … everyone is “upjusted” to the consensus that a lot of bias is perfectly acceptable in their profession and its quite OK to upjust data which doesn’t fit the consensus.

    The only way to stop it, is for people not only to be impartial, but to be ruthless and seen to be ruthless in enforcing impartiality.

    And what did we get, Climategate inquiries which far from pushing for impartiality were entirely one sided and dishonest.

  81. I am of the opinion that the change is a better one. And the fact that it didn’t go smoothly is unconcerning to me. I also agree that Walt needs to keep busy doing the best he can in his area of expertise and ignore the goings on of others who shall twist in the wind till what they cast upon the waters comes back to them.

    Meanwhile, go ice go! Eventually, this pint-sized armchair climate enthusiast will be proven right. This is all intrinsic natural variability. The Earth itself creates its own regional and global short, long, and ultra-long oscillations. Humans have nothing to do with this and cannot. That they CAN negatively impact their local conditions are very much possibilities, in the same way swarms of locusts and beetles do. Which by the way, said local impact is not unique to the modern world at all.

    However, for those who can’t sleep at night over catastrophic worries and machinations over CO2, please continue with scary knicker bunching, twisting, and wadding. The show is WAY better than what’s on TV.

  82. One more easy thing to do is to footnote the graph saying that the line is a 5-day trailing average. That notifies readers and serves as a reminder when you change the method.

  83. I have been watching this graph daily over the past two weeks, the day after the change, I was expecting the 2012 sea ice line to hit the average line, but to my surprise it seemed a lot further away, I really thought I had been seeing things, so I said I’ll check it again in a day or two.
    So glad I’m not going mad but I’m mad at what is going on.
    I can’t believe these ****ers, well actually I can beleive it, that they would adjust the data because institutions like NSIDC have been lying through there dirty mouths for years.

  84. A trailing average is never satisfying. It just looks like a mistake. Raw data is the best. If we get the raw data graphed we can smooth it in our minds. As an aid to that, you could average the data for the last five days and plot it in the center of those five days, ie, two days back. That way the smoothed data doesn’t lead or trail the real data, and the wiggle is in the last two days of real data, not some projection from it.

  85. I look at this image regularly. (Helps me plan my summer kayak trips). I like the 20-year baseline with the ten-year gap from the end of that up to now. This fairly well reflects a major “story” in AGW: many jumped on the bandwagon when Arctic sea ice began the decrease cycle. So, as it expresses cyclical behavior, it is a strong example that some isolated increase or decrease in nature does not adequately represent climate.

    More and more, everyday people are getting fatigued with the parade of imminent-disaster indicators, and the failure of these doomsday predictions prompts more and more every day people to seriously consider buying what Al Gore is selling. Well, selling politically – his investment firm, Generation Investment Management, is managing such a big portfolio that they are not taking in any more money).

    Like others, I notice when delays in weather/climate data updates happen, and it always does seem to happen when things are going in the direction opposite of AGW.

  86. As someone who is not at all involved in the field and is simply observing everything from the bleachers, I have to say that there is something that bothers me and this graph is a perfect example.

    It seems to me that the variations we are talking about, day to day, year to year and decade to decade are so small that they fall well within the margin of error of any statistical device.

    It’s like looking a poll that shows Obama up one point and the next day Romney up one point with a margin of error in the poll of two points. It is essentially useless.

    But, that’s just me I guess.

  87. I think Dr Meier provided a credible and complete explanation for the graphical differences. Good job to all three of you!

    However, if he really wants to improve climate science & scientists credibility, he needs to start a campaign to force Dr Hansen to stop manipulating historical temperature data and return to the pre-2000 data ( specifically the 1910-1990 data) on all of the GISS US & world temperature graphs. Failure to do so means he is complicit in the deception and is just as guilty as Hansen for tolerating these felonious activities. I’ll be waiting for his public condemnation of Hansen and GISS. I won’t hold my breath!

    Bill

  88. T test? A two-standard-deviation data display has nothing to do with a t test. Sure, it is arbitrary. But since, for better or worse, the ‘normal’ curve is symmetrical, you can visualize 1.9 std dev or 2.1 std dev if you like, and reference the corresponding frequency of occurrence.

  89. Dr. Meier has always been open and polite with the posters on this site. I suggest we reciprocate.

  90. I still do not understand why the historical average shifted to the right..

    Anyone got an explanation to this?

    HLx

  91. I agree that both Walt and Julienne have been very cooperative in sharing and discussing information.

    I have to say I have also been very impressed with Reto Ruedy at GISS for the same reasons. This however is in stark contrast to the guys at NCDC, who often don’t even bother replying to requests.

  92. I am reminded of the recent trend towards slight “errors” in pill counts for medications delivered by mail. Careful counting of pills received shows occasional “errors” where the numbers that arrive are not what the manifest shows. In my experience with 127 orders there were 14 that had fewer pills than ordered. There were NO orders that had more than the order. Of the 14 under counts 12 were on the much more expensive non-generic medications. I am sure this is merely coincidental. When queried the pharmacy said, “Errors happen, even in automatic pill counters.”

    These days I always count upon receipt and promptly notify of undercounts. Amazingly, there have been NO errors in recent months after they realized I was monitoring them and had contacted the state consumer affairs bureau. Again, purely coincidental I am sure.

    As a former soldier our motto was always , “Once is chance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action.”

    Take away. Count your pills. Watch the ice measuring and the temperature readings.

    John

  93. Paul Homewood says:
    April 19, 2012 at 6:55 am
    I agree that both Walt and Julienne have been very cooperative in sharing and discussing information.
    ====================================
    Julienne said: “As you know, we average in order to remove artificial ice from weather effects. Weather effects can result in noisy data that is not a real sea ice signal. The underlying data going into the averaging are unchanged.”
    ====================================

    You don’t have to change the underlying data to show less ice……..if you change the “averaging” to show less noise to remove even more artificial ice ……..to show less ice

  94. One final point. For you to feel “saddened” is totally inappropriate, and it is part of the reason we still don’t trust you.
    —————–
    Actually, expressing this feeling of being ‘saddened’ is just a ploy of manipulation. He’d like us to back off with the scrutiny they (now) find themselves in as if that isn’t part and parcel of Science.

    On a sad note: Sad as it is, it is sad to say that we’re saddened by the fact he is sadenned, and……that is saddening thought indeed. !!!

  95. Doesn’t quite explain why the 1979 – 2000 average is different to the original.
    Also, I cant understand why they use 2x Std Deviation on plots that are averages of the data. Unless the sd are from the data in which case I would expect them to be larger.

  96. “As a final, personal note let me make a more general comment. I am saddened that some people have become so cynical about climate scientists and climate data.”

    I am one of those people who don’t believe much of anything that a government paid climate “scientist” would put out there. I can not believe that this man does not understand why. Decades ago I was a big fan of climate scientists and then they sold out for money, position, power, and so on and began to fudge the numbers. That is the biggest cheat in science. My wife wants to know if the data can ever be fixed back to reality after all the tampering. I tell her I don’t think so.

  97. Willis’ postings last evening (11:30pm & 12:23am) shed some light on the adverse effects of polarization, whether in climate science or elsewhere.

    A wise mentor once said to me: “Avoid `we vs. they’ based attitudes and arguments”. Taken to its logical conclusion, a “we vs. they” attitude practiced by parties with differing viewpoints damages both “us and them” to some extent, and sometimes to great extent.

    Far better to reach out in a positive manner to the Dr. Meiers of the world, just as Dr. Meier chose to respond professionally and civilly to Anthony.

    It works … usually.

    Thanks Anthony, Dr. Meier, and Willis for your efforts … keeping it civil is in everybody’s best interest (in part because it drives nefarious people nuts :>) ).

  98. Dr Meier says

    ‘I can appreciate that scientists have brought some of this [distrust] on themselves’

    I’d be very interested for his opinion about which bits he thinks were brought by anybody else…and exactly what he and his fellow climatologists propose to do about it.

    It is not the sceptics who Climategate exposed as a bunch of untrustworthy incompetents.

    It is not the sceptics who rig the climate journals.

    It is not the sceptics who use dodgy hidden statistics and lawsuits rather than standard methods and openness

    It is the climatologists who must clean their house before any semblance of trust in them is restored. They are too deeply immersed in grime already.

  99. Couple of questions for Dr. Walt Meier…

    Why does the small change in the smoothing have such a big effect on the line of anual 1979 to 2000 mean, scewing the line down at the start and up at the end. What caused this significant change?

    When are you going to change the base average to the usual 30y period, used by most climate researchers as a base ‘normal’ period for checking anomolies?

    Until we get clear answers to the above, I’m still sceptical about the honesty and the transparency of NCDC.

  100. I totally concur with Willis and what Steven Goddard have written about the matter. For whatever reason the little script below keeps running through my head…

    NSIDC Exec #1 – “It appears that bastard Goddard discovered our data adjustment to cover up increasing ice levels. We can’t have that with AR5 coming out soon.”
    NSIDC Exec #2 – Well let’s trot out old Walt again and see if he can do some damage control with the deniers.”
    Exec #1 – “I don’t believe he was in the loop on this one, do you think he’ll play ball?”
    Exec #2 – “Walt doesn’t need the whole story, just tell him there was a miscommunication and I’m sure he’ll run with it. He’s a real team player.”

  101. >>Steamboat Jack says:
    April 19, 2012 at 5:45 am
    Willis,

    …the Climategate emails show the mechanism used to rid “climate science” of anyone “not a team player”. The details of that mechanism are well known here. The bottom line is that anyone who has survived the purge of heretics is suspect.<<

    No, not "suspect," but as Willis states, "quietly complicit." There's a huge difference, completely captured by the phrase "when good men do nothing…"

    But good men do nothing for a reason, usually out of fear, whether fear of loss of stature within their industry, or fear of loss of employment, or, in extreme cases, of unjust imprisonment or even death. In a scientist's case, it's quite likely fear of never again being published in relevant journals (as those journals become increasingly corrupted.) I believe in the climate realm the most obvious fear is loss of funding for one's life work, which is equivalent to loss of employment for all practical purposes.

    A good illustration as to the potential for abuse of the "good" was posted here recently by Dr. Craig Loehle, wherein he described the rampant abuse, bordering on libel he claimed, heaped upon his professional work by Dr. Mann simply because he published his findings on the science of tree rings per his research. Whether Dr. Loehle was, in the past, one of those "quietly complicit good men" is unknown to me, but clearly he is now under attack by the leadership of the AGW movement simply for publishing what they feel to be uncomfortable data. Whether that will affect his research funding in the future is also something I don't know, but it's quite likely that as little as two or three years ago, that would have been the case.

    Whether Dr. Meier takes Willis's critique to heart and someday calls out the leaders of the AGW movement for their mendacity is of less importance than that at least some "good men" do appear, for the weight of their opinions will be considerable now that the tide is turning. The NASA group, though mostly retired, was a start. By now, no doubt hundreds of current NASA employees are losing sleep over the matter, knowing that they number among the aptly described "quietly complicit good men." Ironically, had we not wasted billions on the AGW scare, we might not be defunding NASA presently. When bad science is exposed, good science, and good scientists, suffer also in the public eye.

  102. If this was a developers-gone-wild premature deployment as stated, it shows a terrible – and unprofessional – change control process. Any enterprise that would allow developers to ad hoc deploy code without going through the proper change control process would bring up the wrath of the process auditors in any decent business or organization. Amazing how such agencies can get away with such poor quality assurance and control. But that’s show business… uh, I mean climate science in the world of government functionality.

  103. “NSIDC will be making further improvements to the Sea Ice Index graphs and images in the coming months”

    Call me a cynic but I’m guessing that all of those adjustments will result in reporting less not more Arctic ice…

  104. The actual quote is

    “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.” — Thomas Jefferson

    which is a paraphrase of the ideas of Edmund Burke. I think it was very, very appropriate for Willis Eschenbach to cite Jefferson in this context.

    I am a longtime reader of this blog, but never posted previously.

    I appreciate the desire the engage on a civil level with Walt Meier and other legitimate climate scientists. To regain credibility, I think he, and other climate scientists, need to speak out against bad science and highly suspect claims about global warming when they occur. I’m thinking mainly of the work of Michael Mann, Phil Jones, Gavin Schmidt, James Hansen and their colleagues, the attempts to suppress opposing views via peer review, the false claims of scientific consensus and so on.

    As scientists, I think they have an ethical obligation to speak out on these issues — whatever their personal positions on global warming are.

    I think Judith Curry has been very courageous for stating her views on the state of the science underlying AGW theory, at some personal cost. I don’t think she goes far enough, but she seems to be the only one.

  105. Dr. Walt Meier can consider himself a victim of having been ‘Scienced in cold blood’ !!!!

  106. Meh, deliberate or not, conscious or not, the timing was not co-incidental. Walt’s whole organization, with every fibre of its being, wishes the ice would have been all gone by 2013. Listen to him maunder on about thin ice.

    An extraordinary popular delusion and madness of the crowd. I’m sad there’s so much michigas.
    ======================

  107. For those of you calling for NSIDC to use a 30-year average : I took the opportunity to raise this issue on Steve’s blog yesterday, and Julienne responded that they were planning to do just that later in the year.

    Let’s hope that implementation goes more smoothly than this one…….

  108. I’m a little sceptical regarding why 30 year old satellite pictures need to remain classified.

  109. Meirs’ long-winded attempt at plausible denial ignores two decades of experience that such mindless “adjustments” invariably reflect warmist bias inserted in subtly fraudulent ways. Quite possibly, NSIDC’s long-standing “climate of corruption” (sic) surfaced a true-believing hack who took it upon himself to rectify this affront to Holy Writ.

    We note that Miers does not address either the necessary mechanics nor motivation of this contretemps, most certainly not specifying any stringent quality-control measures to prevent recurrence. Too bad that he and all his ilk find their credibility progressively deteriorating… we await the next episode, when NSIDC attribute polar bear population decline to radically dimenished schools of flying fish, exhausted by their constant efforts to leap above their globally-warmed habitat.

    If not some such asininity, ’twill surely be another.

  110. This reminds me of the ongoing Charlie Brown and Lucy saga where Lucy keeps yanking the football…

    In spite of the open discussion about the graph,
    I’m left with a subtle impression of an “intentional spin”.
    “They” seem to keep yanking the football…

  111. While I applaud and encourage NSIDC’s recent openness, my suspicions about certain climate scientists’ “motives” will be assuaged only when I see the cumulative effects of their record of revisions and “mistakes” accrue in a direction other than consistently “colder in the past and warmer now”.

  112. Thanks Dr Meier for the explanation, however one is reminded of a cuckolded husband, who has not a clue, what his promiscuous wife is doing. The fact that this change was implemented just as levels were approaching normality, without notifying people internally or externally, cannot be merely dismissed as coincidence. Just as any man or woman who comes home to find their spouse in bed with someone else, is unlikely to believe they were in the same room (naked) by coincidence. We all trust our spouses… but get real. GK

  113. Scott says:
    April 19, 2012 at 3:51 am

    This cannot be the whole story, it does NOT explain the changes to the average line. KEEP PUSHING!
    ===================================
    Scott, Dr. Stroeve has acknowledged the problem…… http://www.real-science.com/nsidc-goes-full-meatloaf#comment-86509

    But, as Latitude points out, even it they do it properly,
    “changing the averaging to take out more noise…and show less ice….in the present
    while not changing the averaging to take out more noise…and show less ice in the past

    ….will do what ? It will show a decrease in ice on their charts and graphs”
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    I don’t really know what to make of all of this. One would have thought with the recent events in both climatology and in U.S. govt entities lapse’ in ethical judgment that one would go through great pains to avoid even the appearance of impropriety. Clearly, this wasn’t the case in at least one person in NSIDC. I’m not comforted by the fact that we’re paying an obliviot who thinks they can simply do what they will without an explanation. In today’s climate (no pun intended) this won’t do.

    I can only echo the statements in response to Dr. Meier’s comment regarding cynicism. It may be that he felt obliged to put some thing like that in his explanation, but, that in itself seems a bit hollow. Dr. Meier should be fully aware of how, why and to what extent our cynicism arises. He has been one of the few who have engaged with skeptics on more than a few occasions, as has Dr. Stroeve. This is to both of their credit. I’m very sympathetic to their plight, but also, unapologetic.

  114. I think its a big step for Dr Meier to admit/hint that some of his fellows have caused our cynical views by the way they acted. A few people have made similar comments…Judith Curry for example, though again she can’t quite bring herself to say it….name names guys!

    But,,until mainstream ‘Climate Science’ has the b*lls to stand up and say “Yes, Michael Manns work, upon which so much store was set, is unscientific rubbish and we distance ourselves from it” then I’m afraid you are all going to be tarred with the same brush.

    So I’m with Willis on this.
    On the other hand, Dr Meier is prob in a very uncomfortable place, the pressure on him to conform (unless he is a manchurian candidate as some suggest) and not rock the boat must be huge.

    Our host, is, as ever, playing the diplomatic hand here, and has chosen to take Dr Meier at his word. I can summise that there may be many back channel communications between our host and various climate people that we do not hear enough about, and off record, perhaps Dr Meier has a more, ahem, basic view of the actions of some of his colleagues. So I will take what I think is Anthony Watts word that Dr Meier is an ok guy in an awkward position.

    But kudos to Steve Goddard on this for bringing it up (I was really worried about those polare bears for a couple of days…heh!).

    Climate Scientists……we ARE watching you, the stuff you got away with in the past will no longer get past the scutiny of the blogosphere. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice….?
    You need to get your house in order. If that means standing up to the alarmists within your ranks so be it. Are you all really that scared of calling out Michael Mann for example? Is he really that powerful within your community?

  115. Pete says: April 19, 2012 at 7:20 am

    Far better to reach out in a positive manner to the Dr. Meiers of the world, just as Dr. Meier chose to respond professionally and civilly to Anthony.

    Pete, that may sound good, but in my experience it takes time and effort and money and connections and laboratories and a lot more besides to “reach out in a positive manner”.

    If someone is prepared to give me a job as a sceptic, then I would have the resources to spend the time and effort being nice to people who have wholly distorted the science and brought discredit on all scientists.

    Instead, the very people you are asking me to be nice to have preventing sceptics from getting funding, prevented them from getting their work published, libelled them as “deniers”, suggested we all be put in concentration camps for wanting real science and not voodoo non-science.

    As I said, it takes time and money to make a coherent point politely. That is why in politics we don’t just have the government, we also pay people to be the “opposition”.

    You have to pay to have a civil debate … in the end it improves teh debate.

    instead, in climate “science” there has been an active campaign to get rid of opposition – worse there has been an active campaign to suggest that we impoverished sceptics who can hardly pull the money together to hire a hall for a meeting (I’m exaggerating a bit) are in the pay of big oil, When the likes of Hansen are making huge amounts of money on the side in government paid jobs.

    As I say it takes time and resources to be polite. All I can say is that

    … they are all a lot of f[snip]… dipshits.

  116. Dr. Walt Meier says:

    “As a final, personal note let me make a more general comment. I am saddened that some people have become so cynical about climate scientists and climate data. I can appreciate that scientists have brought some this on themselves. And of course, a healthy dose of skepticism is essential to science. But it is disappointing to see people immediately jump to conclusions and assume the worst. I hope people will take from this explanation that NSIDC, and scientists in general, are working hard to the best we can, both in understanding the science and communicating it.”

    Dr. Walt: as I’m sure you’re painfully aware, your very own NSIDC director Dr. “Death Spiral” Mark Serreze has been one of the major players contributing to the cynicism. I for one am glad to see Northern Hemisphere sea ice increasing, if only to shut him up. And many of us echo Willis Eschenbach’s comments (April 18, 2012 at 11:30 pm).

    On the other hand, thank you for your straightforward honest answers. It almost mitigates some of you boss’ buffonery. When Dr. “Death Spiral” finally gets the boot, I hope you get the job.

  117. There is an old adage “The proof of the pudding, is in the eating”. I think Willis has been very kind in his criticsm of Walt Meier. In the days when Mark Serreze was the head of NSIDC, the reports were usually biased pro-CAGW; you NEVER saw an anti-CAGW comment. It is the same with Judith Curry’s Climate Etc. Judith has moved a long way from her very pro-CAGW stance, but you never see her ever making an anti-CAGW comment.

    We have the April 2012 Arcitic sea ice data coming in. By the end of April, when another NSIDC report is due, some 20% of the melt season will have occurred. We can speculate that by this time there could be some very definite information, showing that the April data is above the average at the end of the month. This could be interpreted as indicating that by the time we get to September, there will be signs that the recent steady decrease is sea ice extent in the Arctic has been reversed, and the amount of sea ice in the Arctic could be increasing. This would be, of course, an indication that the predictions of the pro-CAGW camp are just plain wrong; that the Arctic is very unlikely to be free of sea ice in the summer at any time into the indefinite future.

    Could we hope that, IF THE DATA WARRANTS IT, that the April 2012 report from NSIDC will, for the first time, have a distinctly anit-CAGW bias. If so, then we will know that Dr. Meier has understood what Willis is saying.

  118. Dear Dr Meier,

    While these new “adjustments may, or may not, be justified…by not advertising these ‘adjustments” before implementation – you leave a bitter taste. By leaving these “adjustments” to be shown the light of day by climate researchers, outside of NSIDC, you caused suspicion.

    IMO:you can not, with a straight face, claim to be saddened at / by others, who question these unannounced / unadvertised “adjustments”.
    Surely, these “adjustments” were planned? From your reply, it seems to have been a planned action for quite some time.
    Why did NSIDC chose to not advertise these “adjustments” before hand?

    While, I can appreciate your timely reply – I can easily question the shroud you provided by not advertising these “adjustments”.

    Maybe, you think that you don’t owe anyone, other than government employees, “notification” …But Sir, I don’t see government employees as the actual payers of your salary, seeing how their salaries depend on the same taxpayer base that yours does.

  119. thelastdemocrat says:Sure, it is arbitrary. But since, for better or worse, the ‘normal’ curve is symmetrical, you can visualize 1.9 std dev or 2.1 std dev if you like, and reference the corresponding frequency of occurrence.

    Dude, don’t ask me to “visualize” what isn’t there and is totally crap anyway!

    SHOW ME THE DATA!!!!!

    I don’t need no stinking smoothers, with their not-so-hidden popomo subtexual spin. Okay? Why spin this way and that way? Huh, huh? What’s the subliminal message in that? Big bad gummit scientists need to arbitrarily massage the data for us poor dumb bunny civilians? How stupid do you think I am? Do you really want a 40-page explanation of why the pseudo-statistical massage method is politically biased pseudo-science? Nothing in nature is “normal” Dude. How stupid are you?

    SHOW ME THE DATA!!@!@! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Dear Anthony, if you get the actual data set for all observations since 1979, please post it online. I will massage it in my own fashion, because I don’t need gummit “scientist” gatekeepers fooling with it first. Thank you.

  120. Willis may feel better for having expressed his grievance, but how does he know that Walt Meier did not condemn the climategate perpetrators? Meier’s comments seem to me to be what one would get from someone who has worked inside the system to promote ethical science. If so, he has good reason to be saddened by the predictable loss of trust.

  121. Darkinbad the Brightdayler says:
    April 19, 2012 at 12:42 am

    Willis, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

    Sure I can, that happens all the time. I have my cake, and then I eat it too. What’s hard is for me to do what the saying actually says, I can’t eat my cake and then have it too …

    He quickly fessed up to his own mini snafu and dealt with it like a true scientist.

    And I acknowledged him for that.

    Getting seriously involved in the whole climategate thing involves taking a lot of time out to study what the various protaganists actually said and ditto for checking their sources.

    No, it doesn’t. It requires reading some of the climategate documents and noticing what is revealed there in the miscreants’ own words. It’s not rocket science. And if following tales of corruption, scientific malfeasance, and even law-breaking in your own field of work is too hard for you, find another field of work.

    Its easy to stand in the bleachers and shout with the crowd but a lot harder to deliver a serious performance on the field.

    So your conclusion is what. Dr. Walt should stand in the bleachers? Dr. Walt shouldn’t stand in the bleachers? I don’t understand this metaphor at all. I took a stand on this matter, as did a few mainstream AGW scientists, Judith Curry being a shining example. Dr. Walt said nothing.

    That is, if you see the whole thing as a very black and white us and them scenario.

    If you see it as a whole spectrum of opinions and a hotchpotch of half baked grand theories and a tartan weave of interlacing ideas then it makes a lot less sense to be throwing your weight about.

    What is this, the “it’s too hard, it’s too complex” defense? The question isn’t theories of how the climate works. The main lights of the AGW movement are self-confessed to be lying, cheating, and stealing, and your response is to tell us about a “tartan weave of interlacing ideas”? What planet are you from, where mumbling about a “tartan weave” is a suitable response to the revelation of widespread corruption in a field of science?

    If Walt were my employee, I’d be expecting him to devote the bulk of his time to my business, concentrate on getting his science right and only speaking out where he saw things awry in his area of expertise.

    The “business” as you call it of climate science is gone down the tubes, precisely because good men like Walt have done nothing. As a direct result of the inaction of Dr. Walt and the field in general, we have the situation Dr. Walt is “saddened” by, that people don’t trust climate scientists. As he said:

    I am saddened that some people have become so cynical about climate scientists and climate data.

    You seem to think that’s just fine, you say if Dr. Walt were your employee you’d expect him to keep his head down and his mouth shut like a good little boy … but that’s not a solution, that’s exactly why we’re in this mess now.

    w.

  122. Thanks Anthony,
    Yes, it was a mistake and it has been corrected. Thanks to alert skeptics.
    I jumped to the worst conclusion based on the general behavior of the “climate community”.
    Now that the wrong has been righted, I’m back to distrusting and verifying.

  123. Sera says:
    April 19, 2012 at 1:56 am

    Willis- that seems a little harsh to lump Walt into that catagory. I don’t ever remember him being arrested, or acting like a fool or not responding FULLY to even the slightest criticism. I’ll be the first to jump headlong into the fray, but I’ll give quarter to Dr. Meier.

    Sera, I fear you missed my point, although I doubt it was because I wasn’t emphatic enough. The issue is not what Dr. Walt did. As I said above, he’s a guy who does the right things.

    The issue is what he didn’t do, and most of the scientists in the field didn’t do. They didn’t speak out when the corruption was revealed. They didn’t take action against the perpetrators of the corruption. They didn’t clean up their own backyard, they didn’t do anything … and as a result, the whole field is tainted, and as Dr. Walt points out, people don’t trust him even though he wasn’t one of the perpetrators.

    He seems to think that’s unfair or reflects a cynical point of view. Me, I think it is an inevitable and predictable result of his failure to speak out—people reasonably think, why should we trust him when he said nothing?

    w.

  124. Andy Wehrle says:
    April 19, 2012 at 6:19 am

    Mr. Eschenbach,

    You of all people should know, and appreciate, the value of redemption. Dr. Meier may indeed be guilty of silent compliance as you so forcefully point out. That does not mean he can’t redeem himself.

    Andy, I know that, that’s why I’m trying to urge and encourage Dr. Walt to redeem himself in whatever way he can. That’s why I said,

    You guys seem to think that this mistrust will go away if you ignore it … sorry. It doesn’t go away, it just gets hangs out and even gets worse, as this latest episode amply illustrates. I don’t know what you might do about it at this late date, you’ve left it awfully long to take a principled stand, but if I were in your shoes, I’d be doing something other than saying you feel sad.

    w.

  125. bones says:
    April 19, 2012 at 10:03 am

    Willis may feel better for having expressed his grievance, but how does he know that Walt Meier did not condemn the climategate perpetrators? Meier’s comments seem to me to be what one would get from someone who has worked inside the system to promote ethical science. If so, he has good reason to be saddened by the predictable loss of trust.

    Thanks, bones. What are needed are public statements. In the days after climategate, I hoped that the ethical, honest scientists in the field would take a public stand on the matter … foolish me. I wasn’t foolish to believe there are ethical, honest climate scientists. There’s plenty of them, Dr. Walt is a good example.

    I was foolish to believe that they would stand up and publicly speak out for honest, transparent science. The problem is that in this case, working “inside the system” is not and cannot be the solution to the problem.

    The problem is the loss of public trust that Dr. Walt bemoans, and that public trust can only be restored by visible public actions.

    w.

  126. Like Steven says ”…we should expect to see NSIDC cross above the mean in two days.” Why? because it already has.

    I’m happy not everyone’s eyes are painted on!

  127. Keep in mind that what we are calling “raw data” has already been through an innumerable number of processing steps. The raw data is an image, with pixels and values (probably black & white, but I’m not sure). Each of those values represents a level of brightness, which is affected by the time of day, day of year, cloud cover, shadows, haze, humidity. Now from these values, which are probably 0 to 255, or 0 to 1023, each geographic location probably has a standard for what is considered ice and what is not, at X% coverage, such that each location (pixel) can be assigned an “ice or not” bit. Then these have to be adjusted for projection, and so on. This is AFTER correcting for things like the haze, time of day, etc, each of which has its own algorithm that varies through the year, as does the standard, I presume. It is a glorified (and probably more capable) vision system just as used in industry every day. And it might be a mosaic of hundreds of images made up of even finer detailed images (I hope it is).

    I don’t know the exact technical details, but the easy factors I mentioned come to mind. I agree with having another data set of just the non-averaged data posted every day, but if you think you are going to lock down the other 227 different knobs that can be adjusted at will, just by not averaging, think again. The only way ensure a consistent result is to make available each and every image over time, and see that the new algorithms come up with the same answer on historical images that the old algorithms did. This way you can detect how any algorithm changes affect the total ice area. That means we need every image, and every iteration of the code made available to detect how small changes in code affect the ice area. And a change log of what was changed in each processing step, and why. And a method of running the analysis ourselves. Anything short of that, and you don’t know what is real and what is an artifact, or a willful “adjustment”. This re-processing of old images with the new vision algorithms should be required and published as a means to prove a consistent result with no drift over time.

  128. “A man is known by the company he keeps.” Dr. Meier ought to keep better company. Oh ya fleas and dogs comes to mind also.

  129. Bill Illis says:
    April 19, 2012 at 5:46 am
    “Finally, something very unusual is going on with the Arctic ice is the last few months. The extent has really gone against the typical trend for this time of year. That is the big story here.”
    Could it be that after all the strong winds compressing the ice during the winter now that the winds have lessened the ice is spreading out again.

  130. Seriously, why the silence all this time? Are they warmist through and through and are just waiting for us to get fed up and leave, for the tide to change? Is it the academic form of Omerta? They see themselves as part of the progressive phalanx, and as such can’t break ranks?

    Dr. Walt brought up the “sadden” business, saying climate scientists are reponsible for only “some of it”. I guess he’s just saying ‘how unfortunate’ all this contention and lack of trust is — while at the same time continuing to not break the silence. So the stalemate continues as per usual, while the progs in power continue to ram the warmist regs though non-legislatively. I feel so much better. Thanks, Dr.

  131. Dear Dr. Meier,

    I hope you are reading this thread carefully.

    I’m sure you feel under attack – and you are, by what I call “Willis’s wolf-pack”. But the points made against you are very important, and require answers. I hope that Anthony will allow you the chance to respond on WUWT to your critics, soon.

    Willis’s wolf-pack is, primarily, a scientific one; chasing down any deviations from the scientific method. But, when roused, we also become a moral wolf-pack, chasing down any deviations from the honesty and openness which must go with science.

    You are the second individual to be subjected to this treatment. Judith Curry was the first, on 25 February 2010 (look back in the WUWT archives). And, because of how she handled that situation, I now have huge respect for her, even though I don’t know her personally, and despite a few wobbles. What I say of her now is, “The lady is a scientist; and the scientist is a lady.”

    And what I would like to be able to say of you, soon, is: “Dr Walt is a scientist, and the scientist is a doctor, healing the corruption in his field.”

    Cheers,
    Neil

  132. Mike Dubrasich sez:
    “Why use any gray zone at all? Plot the data, all of it. Not difficult. Or the actual data range. Again not difficult.

    The “2 standard deviations” is an artifact of some damn T-test. I hate that crap. Why not 2.1 “standard deviations? Or 1.9? The statistical theory behind it is not applicable in this case. What happened is what happened and I would rather see the actual data than some artificial 95% confidence limit on a known set. Map the data not some aberrant tweak of it, you know?

    BTW, the “average” is a mythical creature. Not real. Just a smoother. Never happened like that.”

    Then, I sez:
    T test? A two-standard-deviation data display has nothing to do with a t test. Sure, it is arbitrary. But since, for better or worse, the ‘normal’ curve is symmetrical, you can visualize 1.9 std dev or 2.1 std dev if you like, and reference the corresponding frequency of occurrence.

    Then Mike Dubrasich sez:
    “Nothing in nature is “normal” Dude. How stupid are you?”

    After declaring that the use of standard deviations to describe dispersion of values is an artifact of the t test, you, Mike, are calling me stupid?

    Historically, the normal distribution and std dev idea came long before the t test.

  133. If an erroneus graph is alone in the woods and nobody is around to notice, would it still be wrong?

  134. A former employer once complimented me for quickly admitting to an error and apologising for it.
    He then cautioned me not to make a habit of apologising too often.
    The memory of that still stings me.

  135. Michael D Smith says:
    April 19, 2012 at 11:17 am

    Mike, it appears you don’t understand what the data source is for these images. These are passive-microwave derived sea ice extents. They are based on the large difference in microwave emission between open water and ice. These are not based on visible or thermal imagery, which would require atmospheric corrections for cloud cover, haze, water vapor, etc.

    All the ‘raw’ data are freely available, so folks such as yourself could download the data and do your own data processing. NSIDC makes available summaries of ice extent and corresponding images for those users of the data that are not capable of working with raw binary data, but that doesn’t mean the data are not available. If you don’t trust our processing of the data I encourage you to do your own analysis.

  136. It seems to me absurd to make an average based partially on extrapolated data. I’m glad they got rid of that.

Comments are closed.