GISS Swiss Cheese

By Steve Goddard

We are all familiar with the GISS graph below, showing how the world has warmed since 1880.

The GISS map below shows the geographic details of how they believe the planet has warmed. It uses 1200 km smoothing, a technique which allows them to generate data where they have none – based on the idea that temperatures don’t vary much over 1200 km. It seems “reasonable enough” to use the Monaco weather forecast to make picnic plans in Birmingham, England. Similarly we could assume that the weather and climate in Portland, Oregon can be inferred from that of Death Valley.

GISS 1200 km

The map below uses 250 km smoothing, which allows us to see a little better where they actually have trend data from 1880-2009.

GISS 250 km

I took the two maps above, projected them on to a sphere representing the earth, and made them blink back and forth between 250 km and 1200 km smoothing. The Arctic is particularly impressive. GISS has determined that the Arctic is warming rapidly across vast distances where they have no 250 km data (pink.)

A way to prove there’s no data in the region for yourself  is by using the GISTEMP Map locator at

If we choose 90N 0E (North Pole) as the center point for finding nearby stations:

We find that the closest station from the North Pole is Alert, NWT,  834 km (518 miles)  away. That’s about the distance from Montreal to Washington DC. Is the temperature data in Montreal valid for applying to Washington DC.?

Even worse, there’s no data in GISTEMP for Alert NWT since 1991. Funny though, you can get current data right now, today, from Weather Underground, right here. WUWT?

Here’s the METAR report for Alert, NWT from today

METAR CYLT 261900Z 31007KT 10SM OVC020 01/M00 A2967 RMK ST8 LAST OBS/NEXT 270600 UTC SLP051

The next closest GISTEMP station is Nord, ADS at 935 km (580 miles) away.

Most Arctic stations used in GISTEMP are 1000 km (621 miles) or more away from the North Pole. That is about the distance from Chicago to Atlanta. Again would you use climate records from Atlanta to gauge what is happening in Chicago?

Note the area between Svalbard and the North Pole in the globe below. There is no data in the 250 km 1880-2009 trend map indicating that region has warmed significantly, yet GISS 1200 km 1880-2009 has it warming 2-4° C. Same story for northern Greenland, the Beaufort Sea, etc. There’s a lot of holes in the polar data that has been interpolated.

The GISS Arctic (non) data has been widely misinterpreted. Below is a good example:

Apr 8, 2009

Monitoring Greenland’s melting

The ten warmest years since 1880 have all taken place within the 12-year period of 1997–2008, according to the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) surface temperature analysis. The Arctic has been subject to exceptionally warm conditions and is showing an extraordinary response to increasing temperatures. The changes in polar ice have the potential to profoundly affect Earth’s climate; in 2007, sea-ice extent reached a historical minimum, as a consequence of warm and clear sky conditions.

If we look at the only two long-term stations which GISS does have in Greenland, it becomes clear that there has been nothing extraordinary or record breaking about the last 12 years (other than one probably errant data point.) The 1930s were warmer in Greenland.

Similarly, GISS has essentially no 250 km 1880-2009 data in the interior of Africa, yet has managed to generate a detailed profile across the entire continent for that same time period. In the process of doing this, they “disappeared” a cold spot in what is now Zimbabwe.

Same story for Asia.

Same story for South America. Note how they moved a cold area from Argentina to Bolivia, and created an imaginary hot spot in Brazil.

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.

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Unbelievable. But here it is. Will Hansen et al take notice? I doubt it.

David Jay

I understand the loss of the cool spot in Africa, averaging (smearing?) should move temperatures away from extremes. However, the hot spot in Brazil is a winner. I want to hear an explanation of that methodology!

Methow Ken

This doesn’t even qualify as ”torturing” data until it confesses what U want:
In this case GISS is effectively pulling whatever data they need to make their ”case” out of UNmonitored thin air.


From the Moon, the Earth does look pretty smooth. Even smoother from Mars. But it looks the smoothest when ones head is up ones rectum.
Smoothing – even in the mathematical/statistical sense – requires reasonable, logical, and defensible excuses. Analytical laziness, or lack of funding for decent data collection does not qualify.


Just wait til next year.

John Eggert

I’m wondering what the source of temperatures for the high arctic was prior to 1950 or so. Alert’s data only goes back to 1950. Certainly aren’t any trees up there.
Interestingly, Alert’s summer temperatures (mean monthly, based on arithmetic mean of hourly data) for May, June, July and August are nearly perfectly flat. The increase in mean annual temperature since 1977 has been most pronounced over the fall from September to November. July and August have negative trends. (Please note I have performed NO quality checks on my data and have limited skills with statistics, beyond a students T test)
All of this information was calculated using the freely available information from the Environment Canada website. Makes one wonder about the CRU claim that Canada was one of the countries with a confidentiality agreement, precluding FOI requests. (hope that link worked!)


If Giss’s credibility were a hot air balloon, how far up do you think it would go, shot so full of holes?

Steve Goddard: I hope you’re aware that the GISS trend maps do not present you with all of the stations used by GISS in their product with 250km radius smoothing.
There are fewer stations used in 1880 than what you’ve presented in the trend maps but the numbers increase with time.


For some time I have tried to follow some of these or similar climate statistical debates on Lucia’s Blackboard blog even though the statistics are way beyond this old farm boy’s understanding.
As an ordinary citizen, one of those who are required by the IPCC, CRU, GISS, Hansen and etc to “trust us as we know what is best for you,” what does strike me about the Blackboard’s debates about many of the statistical techniques for deriving global temperatures and climate analysis techniques are the similarities to the passionate religious debates of the medieval period about “how many Angels can dance on the head of a pin”.
And those claims and debates about climate statistical analysis techniques have about the same relationship to real life [ and real weather and the real climate ] as the “how many angels can dance on the head of a pin” did back in those times past and are about as accurate in their analysis of the real situation, be it religion or climate.

There is no other way to put it, fabrication of data – BY ANY means and any way you slice it – IS FRAUD. [snip, a bit OTT]
Who is involved at NASA in GISS?
What scientific basis do they allege allows them to fabricate data?
How can they be prosecuted?
REPLY: please tone it down a bit. – Anthony

Dave F

Haha, but Steve, they are realistic-looking meteorological patterns, they must be right!
“Qualitative support for the greater Arctic anomaly of the GISS analysis is provided by Arctic temperature anomaly patterns in the GISS analysis: regions warmer or cooler than average when the mean anomaly is adjusted to zero are realistic-looking meteorological patterns.”


This is one powerful illustration or four. But what’s that big red blob flashing on the bottom of the South America one, have you got a South Pole one for a complete set? What percentage of the land area has been homogenised (looks way more than half) and where have the SSTs come from? Beats me how you can possibly have an error margin less than the anomaly being measured on this basis? Sort of reminds me of an old Christmas tree decoration that’s started to peel and lost its lustre. It’s all coming apart Jim.


What strikes me, even more that the arctic, is North America.
In your last blink globle, NA is in the top left corner.
Look at the south east. The entire SE US jumps from white to yellow.
When you compare both 1200 km smoothing and 250 km smoothing, the reds
stay about the same. Everything else in the US gets adjusted up. The entire SE US goes from below normal to above normal

nandheeswarn jothi

they are not ignorant…. for them to take notice.
they are misrepresenting knowingly.

Geoff Smith

So this is out right lying but why?So many groups are doing this can it be out of self interest and funding.
Maybe there really is something to the Iron Mountain Report.


What? No station on Baffin Island, home of the Coming Ice Age (starring Leanord Nimoy) ?


So there is uncertainty and gaps in the data. Maybe that is why the first GISS graph has error bars on it. If you can demonstrate that their error bars are smaller than they should be you might have something worth talking about.


i can’t help but question…
for the stations that have not been moved, or had their surroundings changed, AND have been around since 1900…. what is the trend line? seems to me that those are the only stations that are acceptable for use.
those smoothed 1200km pictures look far too pretty to be acceptable to anyone who knows that the information comes from stations all over the world.

Roger Knights

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.

It’s the whizzer of Ooze.

Grant Hillemeyer

I tell people when this subject comes up that it’s laughable to compare modern global temperatures measured by satilites to late 19th and early 20th centuries. They don’t care about the reality of it, they just imagine weather stations all over the world with infallible, meticulous records since 1880 lining the bookshelves. When an authority like NASA/GISS says something people assume it’s true and don’t seem to care about the nuts and bolts of it. I usually go back to sea levels because there are meticulous tide gauge records back to 1880 and ask them, “if it has warmed so much, why hasn’t the rate of sea rise accelerated with it? I don’t hear much about that from agwers except that we haven’t reached the tipping point. Well, I live at 3000′ so maybe i’m safe.

Very good video from Lord Monckton- A left-wing environmentalist gives his views on CAGW:

Joe Lalonde

Do you know how the sun can change the the heat energy hitting this planet?
How the sun can be responsible to generate an Ice Age even though we are so close to it?
It is a mechanical process from rotation.

What Bob Tisdale said.
Steve Goddard, your primary discovery is that there isn’t much data in GHCN south of the equator in 1880. By forcing a trend to go back to 1880s, you are excluding all the stations whose data series begin in 1890 or 1900 or 1910 or 1920 or …
You can get a better feel for what areas are covered when here:

Yes, it’s true, and well known, that there were not a lot of met stations operating in interior of Africa, or the Amazon jungle, in 1880. And that there is not a long history of measurements on the sea ice of the Arctic Ocean.
So what was your point?

Leon Brozyna

I wonder what gaming system the GISS geeks use to create their artificial constructs.


Did anyone ever figure out how the trends in the interior of Greenland could exceed the trends actually observed at stations*? Since there are no stations in the interior, the trends there must be computed by interpolating from nearby (coastal) stations. But I would expect that any interpolation would be a linear combination of actual station data (with positive weights) and hence couldn’t have a larger trend than those stations do.
*As discussed in the “Greenland” section at
You can see something similar in the above maps in north central Africa. In the 1200-km-smoothed version, there’s a small region which is colored red (>2K), but in the 250-km-smoothed version which presumably shows the trends of the actual observation sites, there’s no red but only orange (1-2 K).

The GISS anomaly maps for June, 2010 show holes in the Arctic, Africa and South America – almost as large as those in the trend maps. The data is missing at both ends.


Caan someone look through this list and tell me if anything has changed??


“So there is uncertainty and gaps in the data. Maybe that is why the first GISS graph has error bars on it. If you can demonstrate that their error bars are smaller than they should be you might have something worth talking about.”
Uncertainty is the error in the measurnig devices. Did you read the article? This is talking about bad statistics which interpolate data over up to the distance from Atlanta to Chicago. This argument is old, and if you still believe in the righteousness of the models, nothing will convince you otherwise until you are hit in the backside with a glacier, in which case you will probably claim “the glaciers are just weather”.
If you want to talk science, do so, but claiming that the interpolation is OK because there are error bars is showing a very serious lack of statistical knowledge. Interpolation to describe it in a short format, if it is done poorly there can be no error bars simply because there is no way to calculate error when done poorly. The results can be best described as “anyone’s guess” or “Only God knows”, or “Only Hansen knows”. That all depends on which religion you follow, but shrug, we all have our beliefs now…


Regarding: “REPLY: please tone it down a bit. – Anthony”
Dear Anthony,
I noticed Mosher’s recent angry outcry against crying “fraud.” I did not understand it. We bloggers understand that we are able to “vent” here more comfortably than at CA, but even the Bishop allows my political questions. Please just keep up what you are doing. Thanks!

Stephen Pruett

There is a popular saying in my field of research: “fools pool”. This is worse than pooling data, it is creating data and then using it for global climate analysis. It is becoming increasingly clear that the standards in climate science are not as rigorous as they should be.

I wonder if they do TOBS adjustments on non-existent data points?


HaroldW says: July 26, 2010 at 8:11 pm
“Since there are no stations in the interior, the trends there must be computed by interpolating from nearby (coastal) stations. “
Why “must” they be computed?
If there is no data it should be treated as a Null Value. A Null value does not affect a calculation in any way; a Null is Not a zero. The average of 2 + 3 + Null + 4 + Null is 3.
They should base their trends on the data they have, if there is warming or cooling it would show up in the data they have.
What they are doing is not correct.
They should say:
“There is a warming/cooling trend in the currently monitored parts of the planet”
There is no reason whatsoever that they “Must” compute unknowns out of the data, the trends would be unaffected by Nulls.
They are just making stuff up.

Amino Acids in Meteorites

Be nice if GISS had a whistle blower.


For all of the money being thrown at this problem – these should be unstructured grids tied to topography and known ocean currents – with datapoints readily visible and documented.
What is SO well shown here – is that these ‘anomalies’ are manufactured out of whole cloth – and purely a function of the gridding algorithm.
And they know this.
Shameful. And these guys – attached to NASA. I guess quality doesn’t matter anymore ?

David Jay says:July 26, 2010 at 6:45 pm
However, the hot spot in Brazil is a winner. I want to hear an explanation of that methodology!

David, Mr Goddard did not make clear what is being plotted here. It isn’t simple interpolation. The colors represent trends over 130 years, and the gray areas in the 250km plot show where info was not available for the full period. But that does not mean that there was no information there.
When GISS plots the 1200km trend plot, for most years they use the local data, which don’t appear in the 250km plot. They only interpolate to fill in the missing years.


Andrew30 (July 26, 2010 at 8:33 pm) ,
I wouldn’t disagree with you, nor would CRU — their HadCRU temperature datasets do not presume to attribute a value far from any measurements.
But given that GISS *do* assign a value up to 1200 km from a measuring station, then the values assigned must come from some sort of smoothing/extrapolation algorithm. I understood that they used a weighted average of the the values (anomalies) at stations within a 1200 km radius. The weights presumably are greatest for nearby stations and diminish to 0 at a distance of 1200 km.
However, a weighted average — at least one in which the weights are positive and sum to 1 — can’t produce a value larger than the largest of the values which are being averaged. So, because (as in the Africa case cited above) there are extrapolations which exceed the nearby stations, my understanding of how the smoothing/extrapolation is performed must be incorrect. I was looking for some information about the actual approach.

Amino Acids in Meteorites

starzmom says:
July 26, 2010 at 6:24 pm
Unbelievable. But here it is. Will Hansen et al take notice? I doubt it.
Someone named Gavin posts comments here occasionally. If it is that Gavin then he will know about this post. Also, about other posts like it previously. I can only guess what the reaction at the office will be but maybe WattsUpWithThat are words that cannot be mentioned there. 😉
REPLY: He is NOT the RC Gavin, though he’d be welcome to post if it was RC Gavin – Anthony

No over the top intended Anthony. It is just infuriating that Nasa GISS climate scientists believe that they are doing hard science when they fabricate data with “statistical interpolation” for vast areas. I’m just calling it like I see it. I’ve dealt with fraudsters in business and you have to hit them hard when they are discovered otherwise they are more likely to get away with their fraudulent deeds and keep on repeating them.
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. If we can’t even get honest ordinary evidence out of Nasa GISS how can any of their data be trusted?
If those that continue to push fabricated data as if it’s real data are not held to account by social control mechanisms (legal sanctions) then they have won the day and very likely the war with their political agenda supported by fabricated data.
As someone interested in the integrity of science the techniques used by climate scientists that fabricate data are of the most serious concern as that fabricated data is used in conclusions presented as “the real world” to politicians and policy makers who then spend vast sums of public monies.
What happened to only using the data that is actually observed?
Hansen and Lebedeff published a paper in 1987 that lays out the “acceptable” use of fabrication of data where non exists. Amazing.

“The oddity about the picture is that we are given temperature data where none exists. We have very little temperature data for the Arctic Ocean, for example. Yet the GISS map shows radical heating in the Arctic Ocean. How do they do that?
The procedure is one that is laid out in a 1987 paper by Hansen and Lebedeff In that paper, they note that annual temperature changes are well correlated over a large distance, out to 1200 kilometres (~750 miles).” – GISScapades, WUWT

How can we have this 1987 paper, “Global Trends of Measured Surface Air Temperature”, by Hansen and Lebedeff falsified and rescinded?
One way is for a new paper to be published that falsifies it, correct?
What other papers are based upon this one? How can they then be falsified and rescinded or redone? How far do the dominoes fall? What is the process for tippnig them over?
What ways are there to hold Hansen et. al. legally responsible for misrepresenting fabricated data as if it’s real data? Public funds, massive amounts, have been and will be spend based upon the GISS representations. That’s just not right.


Instead of snarking about Atlanta vs. Chicago, why don’t you guys use some of this cognitive surplus to disprove the papers that support the 1200km correlation? I don’t think you’re up to it because it’s pretty obvious that anomalies do correlate over long distances. Maybe I’m wrong.
REPLY: You know Boris, providing people with distances they can relate to is not snark, it’s called communicating. It is germane since most people have no idea about distances and data sparseness in the Arctic. You are one to talk about “snark” since personal denigration and snark is all you do on blogs, and from the typical drive by coward standpoint. Frankly I don’t give hoot if you are offended because I read the nasty things you write about me and the people that frequent this blog elsewhere. If you weren’t so downright obnoxious, and with a long track record of it, I’d not have an issue discussing it with you. But experience has shown it to be a waste of everyone’s time when you are involved. This post is not about disproving 1200 km correlation, it is about demonstrating vast areas of missing data that is being infilled by extrapolation/gridding/homogenization. I’m fairly sure you will repost this on another forum, and watch happily while the typical insults fly, but let’s see if you have the integrity to resist your urges, just this once. – Anthony

You should read what Bob, Ron and Nick have to say.
I’ll go at the issue in a slightly different way.
Lets suppose that we have data for the latitude 60-70N. Lets suppose that data
shows a flat TREND from 1900 to 2009. Anomaly =0. to be sure within this band some places may be warmer, some cooler. But each location shows a zero trend.
Thats the thought experiment.
Question: I tell you to estimate the TREND from 70N to 90N. What’s your answer?
1. Assume a negative TREND.
2. Assume a positive TREND
3. Imput the same trend as you see from 60-70 degrees northward.
4. Say there is no way to estimate and shrug your shoulders.
is imputing a trend not seen (1,2) defensible?
is imputing the same trend defensible?
is refusing to make any estimate defensible?
If 60-70N saw a positive trend of 1C, would you expect 70-90N to see
a higher trend? lower trend? or the same trend.


Extrapolation and interpolation are two different things and using one over the other should be specified in these discussions. So when does GISS?


I guess that the 1,200 km smoothing is what justifies the “station drop offs” in the Canadian and Russian arctics.
It makes you wonder why NOAA and NASA have so many stations in the lower latitudes and in the USA. With 1,200 km smoothing a few dozen stations should be enough for the entire world.

How do such systemic problems with data manipulation/insertion persist across so many administrations? The heads of NOAA and NASA are political appointees, I would have expected one of them along the line would have demanded data integrity.
It’s incredible to me that the status quo has existed for so long, as if no-one really paid much attention or care to what these agencies were doing for so long, but now we rely so heavily on what they say, seemingly only because they’ve been saying it for so long.

Bryan A

According to this site
Alert is currently 1c
and Thule Air Base is 5c

Amino Acids in Meteorites

If GISTemp actual temperature was the same as other data sets that show lower temperature I wouldn’t have a problem with these methods. But GISTemp keeps showing hottest-ever-this-and-that. You don’t hear of anomalies in the news, like, “The NASA data set anomaly is the same as the other data sets anomaly. So there’s nothing to see here.” We just hear hottest (temperature) years all the time. This continual stressing in the blogosphere of paying attention to anomaly and not temperature has a bad smell to it. So I will pay attention to the actual temperature behind the anomaly curtain. And something is wrong with GISTemp.

Unbelievable. But here it is. Will Hansen et al take notice? I doubt it.
Unbelievable. But here it is. Will anyone outside our circle take notice? I doubt it.

Ian George

Just checked Gmo Im.E.K.F in N Russia (77.7N). Shows 1-2C warming in the GISS world map. But check the GISS graph at:-
Again, much more warming in the ’30s and ’40s. Do they take the 50s as their starting point?
How many more examples are there?

Nigel Harris

It seems “reasonable enough” to use the Monaco weather forecast to make picnic plans in Birmingham, England.

Deliberately misleading and snarky. We’re talking about trends in anomolies here, not absolute temperatures. And we’re talking about climate, not weather.
GISS is, at worst, assuming that the change in temperature over decades in Monaco might be a reasonable basis for estimating the change in temperature over the same timescale in Birmingham, England (but only if there is no data available for Birmingham.) If the temperature in Monaco now is, on average, unchanged from the 1880s, then let’s assume Birmingham is also unchanged from what it was in the 1880s (but still somewhat cooler than Monaco, of course). And if Monaco has got cooler, in a way that is consistent with other nearby stations where we have data, then let’s assume that Birmingham (where we don’t have data) has also cooled by the same amount. That’s all.
As it happens, Friday’s forecast for Birmingham, England is partly sunny, 26C and Friday’s forecast for Monaco is sunny, 24C.

James Sexton

Steven Mosher says:
July 26, 2010 at 9:18 pm
“… imputing the same trend defensible?
is refusing to make any estimate defensible?”
Of course, the problem isn’t guestimates, the problem is presenting the guestimates as factual. If one has never recorded the 70-90N temps nor tracked the trends, how on earth could you possibly relate them to the trends of 60-70N? Further, if this is going to be lent any validity, why bother with measuring the temps at 60-70N? Just put a couple on the equator and extrapolate up and down the grids. If one looks at the trend maps, one could state extrapolating in that manner doesn’t appear to reflect reality.
At any rate to answer a question posed to another person(sorry) it is indefensible to publish such an estimate in the manner in which they do. It is ok to postulate and hypothesize about various events and objects. It is not ok to mislead the public. Oddly enough, some people take this garbage as gospel.