This just appeared on the PBS Blog, apparently the mere presence of my interview was enough to push NOAA into responding. It seems they are in full damage control mode.
CLIMATE — September 18, 2012 at 6:08 PM EDT
Climate Change From Different Perspectives
By: Spencer Michels
Anything dealing with climate change is bound to provoke an argument. And our story on Berkeley physicist Richard Muller’s recent conversion to a believer in man-made global warming, which he made in an op-ed in the New York Times, certainly stirred the pot. In addition to preparing a video story on the PBS NewsHour, I had written a blog that included extended remarks from Anthony Watts, a well-known blogger and prominent voice in the skeptic community. Watts — a former California TV weatherman who runs a company that provides weather data to TV stations — says he doesn’t completely discount global warming, but he says that much of the data recording temperatures are flawed because the stations are in areas like urban settings which retain heat and therefore read too high.
The idea of the online post — in part — was to let the audience hear more about the views of a prominent voice from the community of skeptics. In the past, we have on occasion provided a more expansive view from the overwhelming majority of climate scientists who say climate change is real, an ever-growing problem and one that is getting significantly worse because of our own contribution to greenhouse gases. (In fact, my colleague Hari Sreenivasan posted links to some of that prior reporting earlier today.) We thought the online post with Watts would provide a chance for viewers to hear more about the skeptical perspective than we have done recently.
That said — and as many of you wrote us to complain — we should have not ONLY posted additional comments from Watts’ perspective. So we have more interviews and responses from the scientific community about climate change. Let’s start on the question of whether temperature data is flawed. That was raised by Watts, and his views on that are being heavily criticized on the web today.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration wrote a response to us and stands by its record on temperature data. Here is what NOAA sent:
The American public can be confident in NOAA’s long-standing surface temperature record, one of the world’s most comprehensive, accurate and trusted data sets. This record has been constructed through many innovative methods to test the robustness of the climate data record developed and made openly available for all to inspect by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center. Numerous peer-reviewed studies conclusively show that U.S. temperatures have risen and continue to rise with recent widespread record-setting temperatures in the USA. There is no doubt that NOAA’s temperature record is scientifically sound and reliable. To ensure accuracy of the record, scientists use peer-reviewed methods to account for all potential inaccuracies in the temperature readings such as changes in station location, instrumentation and replacement and urban heat effects.
Specifically, NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center published a scientific peer-reviewed paper (Menne, et al., 2010) that compared trends from stations that were considered well-sited and stations that received lower ratings on siting conditions, which found that the U.S. average temperature trend is not inflated by poor station siting. A subsequent research study led by university and private sector scientists reached the same conclusion (Fall et al. 2011). Additionally, the Department of Commerce Inspector General reviewed the US Historical Climatology Network dataset in July 2010 and concluded that “the respondents to our inquiries about the use of and adjustments to the USHCN data generally expressed confidence in the [USHCN] Version 2 dataset.”
Looking ahead to the next century, NOAA has implemented the U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN) – with 114 stations across the contiguous United States located in pristine, well-sited areas. Comparing several years of trends from the well-sited USCRN stations with USHCN shows that the temperature trends closely correspond – again validating the accuracy of the USHCN U.S. temperature record.
NOAA also provides this link for those who want more information. [Note from Anthony, see what we found using a new method (not employed by NOAA but endorsed by WMO) in Watts et al 2012, here. Strange that they don’t mention the General Accounting office report on USHCN (what the erroneously refer to as the inspector general’s report) was due to my inquiry, not theirs.]
There are plenty of other links where you can find data and information about this question of temperature measurements. One of note that we are including here is the website, skepticalscience.com, which examines and pushes back on the critique from the skeptics’ community.
One point that we tried to make in the broadcast piece was that Richard Muller, in fact, had his own doubts in the past on temperature readings with some issues that were similar to Watts’ criticisms. But he and his daughter, mathematician Elizabeth Muller, told us they looked closely at climate data and now clearly believe that human-induced climate change is happening. Here’s more of what they told us:
You can read the full story here.
I’m surprised that in the body the story, they’d link to SkepticalScience given what has transpired there recently with the conspiracy mongering, secret forums, hate speech and all that.
I’m still waiting for PBS to make the correction I asked for.