Government report: Canadian climate data quality 'disturbing'

From the “we told you so time and again department”, Canadian weather data is a mess. It took an FOIA to get the “fess up” out in the open. Anybody got a copy of the EC report? So far all we have is press reports.

See our WUWT report below, it isn’t just Canada that is in the red with poor data. Though you can see a vast swath of red and lots of missing grey area in Canada.

GISS & METAR – dial “M” for missing minus signs: it’s worse than we thought

http://climateaudit.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/ghcn_giss_hr2sst_250km_anom03_2010_2010_1971_2000.gif?w=520&h=307&h=307

From the Financial Post

Sustained cuts to Environment Canada weather-service programs have compromised the government’s ability to assess climate change and left it with a “profoundly disturbing” quality of information in its data network, says a newly released internal government report.

“The common assumption among users is that the data has been observed accurately, checked for mistakes and stored properly,” said the report, printed in June 2008. “It is profoundly disturbing to discover the true state of our climate data network and the data we offer to ourselves and the real world.”

The stinging assessment, obtained through an access-to-information request, suggests that Canada’s climate network infrastructure is getting progressively worse and no longer meets international guidelines.

Key findings in the report:

• Automatic precipitation sensors are subject to significant and well-known errors, which have significantly compromised the integrity of Canada’s precipitation data;

• National coverage of certain climate elements, such as hours of bright sunshine, have been effectively terminated;

• Human quality control of climate data ceased as of April 1, 2008. Automated quality control is essentially non-existent. There is no program in place to prevent erroneous data from entering the national climate archive;

• Climate data, which could be gathered at minimal additional cost, is not being gathered due to lack of funds;

• Climate data, which could be gathered with minimal additional effort, is not being gathered due to lack of personnel;

• Some existing data, which needs to be interpreted and processed before being placed into the national archive, is being ignored due to lack of resources;

• A significant portion of the volunteer climate network will likely be lost due to a decision on the part of the Meteorological Service of Canada to discontinue processing paper forms and to emphasize electronic input;

• Clients of Environment Canada (both internal and external) cannot obtain the information they need. This has significant implications for programs carried out by all levels of government, the private sector and the international scientific community; and

• Lack of resources and delayed quality control of climate data have resulted in updates of Intensity/Duration/Frequency curves that proceed in fits and starts. Systematic and regular updates are desired by the engineering community in order to design public infrastructure (roads, buildings, sewers) that will be able to cope with severe storms and phenomena associated with changing climate.

• These issues are widely recognized by staff within the department, and are becoming increasingly obvious to outside partners and clients, damaging morale within and credibility outside the department.

Source: Degradation in Environment Canada’s Climate Network, Quality Control and Data Storage Practices: A Call to Repair the Damage. June 2008.

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miket

I’m dumbstruck. If a country of Canada’s standing is in this much mess, do we dare even lift the lid to look at the quality of some countries’ data?

jorgekafkazar

Since the temperatures have flat-lined since 1998, it’s expedient to let the measurements slide until they start up again.

PaulH

At first blush, this sounds like the usual complaint that the evil government cut some of our funding, so now we cannot possibly accomplish any of the work we really, really want to do, so give us more money and everything will be wonderful again.

DBD

As a Canadian I am excited – Environment Canada has been in bed with Gore, Ignatieff etc for too long. Perhaps the much needed improvements will be forthcoming now.

vboring

The worse the data, the faster the warming.
The US and Europe have the best data in the world and even before correcting for UHI have essentially no warming.
Africa and the poles have the worst data and – surprise surprise – the fastest warming.

Gary Hladik

OMG, it’s worse than we thought!
Oh wait, it isn’t.

Z

Perhaps this is the way forward, or rather the way out. Blame the data gatherers (volunteer and otherwise) and exit quietly through the side door of “insuffficient data” over the coming decade.
Of course gridding, anomolies, and teleconnection will save you – except you’ll be asked if that’s your IQ or your shoe size if you bring that sort of thing up once the exit has begun.

Athlete

Canada has the best quality climate data in the world. His name is Steve McIntyre.

Eureka!
Ecotretas

Rattus Norvegicus

Well, what else can you expect when budgets have been cut to the bone? Maybe this report will spur Parliament into providing a decent level of funding to Environment Canada.

Britannic no-see-um

I’m sure we have somewhere that can retrieve the situation with ‘value added’ quality. I’ll think of it in a minute.

I’d be happy with using this to force Hansen to pull Canada entirely out of his homogenization manipulations.

Enneagram

Who cares about REAL data anymore?, science as usual is better and btw one doesn’t get cold out there!. Lack of funding is right, productivity increases as they direct those funds to a few of cooperative researchers.

Enneagram

mikelorrey says:
August 23, 2010 at 2:26 pm
They are used to ask for homogenized massages.

ML

Rattus Norvegicus says:
August 23, 2010 at 2:17 pm
Well, what else can you expect when budgets have been cut to the bone? Maybe this report will spur Parliament into providing a decent level of funding to Environment Canada.
———————————————
Cut to the bone?.
Take a look here:
http://www.ec.gc.ca/gc-sc/Index.cfm?lang=en&state=reports

rbateman

So all that GISS and NOAA red in Canada is the result of a crumbling infrastructure?
How many other places have gone silent, but as of yet undiscovered?
The Southern Oceans turn up with major gaps, the Antarctic has poor coverage, and now Canada falls to pieces.
If major cooling is sneaking up on us, we’ll be the last to know. Sounds like a disaster is already in place, just add an event and stir.
Good Grief !!!

It might be time to privatize this department. We should stop providing this information for free. If people want to make money off of weather data (forcasting for the news, planning for future events etc.) they should nave to pay for it not the taxpayer.

Ed Caryl

Ecotretas,
No, Eureka has significant UHI.

MaxL

I was a forecast meteorologist with Environment Canada for many years and I still to contract forecasting. The issue of degradation of the weather observing network in Canada is definitely a large issue. All of the key findings in the report have been concerns of forecasters for many years. Funding cuts started to really take their toll in the mid-nineties. Many, if not most, reporting stations were converted to automatic with little or no human intervention. Meteorologists are not sure if there is any quality control of data now. We know of numerous systematic errors and do not know what happens with them. I will give you an example that we always find amusing. In one location where it is often very windy, the wind will activate the precipitation sensor. So when the wind starts to really blow the station will begin reporting rain. Generally the weather condition under such a scenario is sunny and dry. Does this bad precipitation data make it into the database,…we don’t know. Another funny example is when it gets real hot and the heat coming off an airport tarmac interferes with the visibility sensors, which start reporting drizzle. The radio broadcasters do not know any of these problems and you often hear them advertising the hot temperature along with drizzle in some areas.
I could go one at great length with many of the problems with the automatic stations. These concerns have been brought forth to government officials many times, but there is no will to improve. In fact, more cutbacks are usually done. There was a time when a forecaster could call the observing station and talk to a real live person if they suspected an error in the observation. Those days are mostly gone.
The interesting additional aspect to all the cutbacks is that many of the forecasts are now automated. So you have automated data (which may have errors) input for automated forecasts, which ingest this data and produce erroneous forecasts. Kind of like a closed loop with no human intervention.
The point about clients not being able to obtain the information they need is certainly valid. It is hard to even talk to a meteorologist any more, there is little public access. In a lot of cases the meteorologists are just not able to access data like they used to. We have an inside saying “Due to technological advancements we are no longer able to provide you with that information”.

vigilantfish

PaulH says:
August 23, 2010 at 1:57 pm
At first blush, this sounds like the usual complaint that the evil government cut some of our funding, so now we cannot possibly accomplish any of the work we really, really want to do, so give us more money and everything will be wonderful again.
———-
Agree entirely. Once the conservatives came into power, the science alarm-bells began ringing about an anti-science government that would fail to support science at the level which it deserves. The miracle is that this report did not emerge earlier! Who made the request for information?
This document leaves me wondering how far back the problems go? Do they predate the Conservative minority government, and if so, why is no indication given as to the approximate dates of the emergence of the different problems? How far back is data-quality compromised? More context is needed before this can be fitted into the climate ‘science’ and alarmism narrative.

justin ert

Sounds like an appeal for more funding. They clearly need more money for more [personnel] advocates to skew [interpret] data than is currently available.
Research suggests their current “lack of resources and delayed quality control of climate data” has obviously led to an unsustainable drought of media-worthy catastrophism. The resulting data-stress is having an impact on the employment diversity required to maintain the recycling of their departmental grants.

Leon Brozyna

Everyone should click on that link to the dial “M” piece. It’s long and well worth the read (or reread) as it shows how errors creep into the data. It’s one of the better pieces that’s been done on WUWT.

RockyRoad

“Don’t bother me with reality; what I’m looking for is a good fantasy!”–Environment Canada.

Sean Peake

Could this be a trial balloon to prevent any committment to an accord in Cancun?

Don Keiller

MaxL says: “Another funny example is when it gets real hot and the heat coming off an airport tarmac interferes with the visibility sensors, which start reporting drizzle. ”
Yes, but the unfunny thing is the temperature sensor reading high from “the heat coming off an airport tarmac “.
A pound to a penny that this is not corrected for.

Gordon Ford

When government programs are cut or not funded with ever increasing amounts of money it is the field work that suffers first. Data collection , QA/QC and storage is farmed out where possible. This could be a plus if the private data collection system was properly supported. In my experience it’s not and any available money is funneled into complex automated data collection and storeage systems that no one really understands. When someone in authority realizes that the data is compromised even more money is funneled into an even more elaborate and bug ridden system.

mitchel44

Agreed, they are not cut to the bone, but they do waste a large amount of money on grants, look here. http://www.ec.gc.ca/gc-sc/Index.cfm?lang=en&state=quarter&quarter=4&fiscal=2009%2F2010
That’s just the 4th qtr of last fiscal year, ducks(canards) unlimited is good for close to $2M, and the UNEP gets a nice chunk also.
Stop wasting money and they would have enough to actually gather some quality data.

Dave in Exile

MaxL’s comment goes a long way towards explaining the dismal record of Environment Canada in forecasting Edmonton weather. The week forecast is totally unreliable – almost invariably the last few days seem to be based on some long term median or average (with an unrealistic amount of sunshine) and it shifts constantly to the right as the days advance. The next day prediction usually bears some relationship to what actually occurs, but not enough to plan an outdoor event on. I used to wonder if they just didn’t have enough stations to keep accurate track of the movement of the air masses, but it sounds like what few stations they do have are unreliable too.

George E. Smith

It would seem that the less convincing the data is (observations that is), the more money and personnel they want to throw at it; presumably with the aim of making it somehow more convincing.
Most folks spending their own money, would put it where they have the most convincing data; not the least convincing data.
I would say; buy Peter Humbug a copy of Windows-7, or maybe the latest Playstation operating system upgrade; and be done with it. He so far hasn’t come up with anything which mimics reality; even the reality that already was; let alone the reality that is yet to be.
As for the dearth of Southern Ocean data which Curry and Liu decry.
Hey it already gets more attention than it deserves. New Zealanders enjoy idyllic weather; and the Emperor Penguins are too darn stupid to move to some place that is more hospitable.
So who’s to benefit from more money poured into the Southern Ocean; well besides Dr Curry’s grad students ?
Bank robbers rob banks, because that’s where all the money is. Climate scientists concentrate on the Northern Hemisphere, because that’s where most of the people live.

The weakness of the science,
The bleakness of the lies, since,
With uncertainties so massive,
And numbers pulled from arses,
Their confidence is laughable,
Their desperation’s palpable,
But none of them is culpable,
And we’re left with grand delusions,
Climate science lies in ruins,
Herding weather in a stone fence,
Buttressed poorly with weak nonsense,
As if floods and storms could prove it,
As if science could be purchased
From their wealth of carbon credits
Manufactured from consensus…
Now Canada confesses
Their data’s mostly guesses
Derived from Arctic misses
And lacking in the numbers
That they need to blame the Hummers
That thunder on the tundras
And the cities and the towns
Now need to try again
And find out who to tax and blame
‘Cause the weather shouldn’t change,
If it does, then hey, for shame!
You rich folk fixed the game!
Because weather’s gone astray,
Now those employed must start to pay
Every bill that’s carbon based,
Which, surprise, makes no darn sense,
But who cares? It’s just madness
To Deny us recompense,
Since you surely must have taken it
From those weaker than yourself!
____________________
©2010 Dave Stephens

latitude

vigilantfish says:
August 23, 2010 at 2:46 pm
This document leaves me wondering how far back the problems go? Do they predate the Conservative minority government, and if so, why is no indication given as to the approximate dates of the emergence of the different problems? How far back is data-quality compromised? More context is needed before this can be fitted into the climate ‘science’ and alarmism narrative.
==========================================================
I think this is it:
“said the report, printed in June 2008. ”
“The report said the cuts are part of a trend that began 10 to 15 years earlier when the former Liberal government was trying to eliminate the federal deficit, prompting a shift toward automated stations to replace people in the field. In one case, the report quoted an employee who had observed first hand, as an automated weather station was “fooled” into reporting drizzle on a hot sunny July day in Edmonton with temperatures approaching 30 C.”

Ed_B

What is the point of worrying.. satellites will do the job infinitely better. Just get rid of the useless ‘stations’.

latitude

MaxL says:
August 23, 2010 at 2:45 pm
Another funny example is when it gets real hot and the heat coming off an airport tarmac interferes with the visibility sensors, which start reporting drizzle. The radio broadcasters do not know any of these problems and you often hear them advertising the hot temperature along with drizzle in some areas.
===================================================
That is not funny Max!

Alan Simpson not from Friends of the Earth

Well, I for one await the apologists, whom doubtless will explain why this worthless data is highly significant. Doesn’t NASA GISS use one station in Canada calculate the whole Arctic? No wonder it is so hot up there.

Bruce of Newcastle

Ed_B @August 23, 2010 at 3:29 pm
“satellites will do the job infinitely better”
Unfortunately this seems not to be the case:
At Least Five Climate Measuring Satellites Compromised
REPLY: Sensor failures are a regular occurrence on all satellite systems. This is overhyped IMO. – Anthony

Wow…
What’s really disappointing is that presumably several/many government employees, that is civil servants, would have seen the report and not spoke up about it.
The ambivalence is not surprising and is always disappointing.

CRS, Dr.P.H.

Would someone please get this poor Canadian professor a pill or stiff drink?
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/23/opinion/23homer-dixon.html?_r=1&ref=opinion&pagewanted=all

WillR

By jove he’s got it! He’s really got it…
Dave Stephens says:
August 23, 2010 at 3:25 pm
The weakness of the science,
The bleakness of the lies, since,
With uncertainties so massive,
And numbers pulled from arses,
Their confidence is laughable,
Their desperation’s palpable,
But none of them is culpable,

Some Canadians have known this for a while as it has been used to justify Ontario Green Energy Policy and the Green Energy Act. However, upon examination many of the climate reports have contained outright falsehoods and errors.
You can see may reports at the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and make your own judgments.

rbateman

Alan Simpson not from Friends of the Earth says:
August 23, 2010 at 3:48 pm
It’s anomalously impossibly hot up there in Canada, and it’s GISS unbelievable.
Antarctica – scratch.
Canada – scratch.
Himalayas – scratch.
Africa – scratch.
Siberia – scratch.
China – scratch.
Arctic – scratch.
Southern Oceans – scratch.
Wanted – climate data, will take anything. Desperate.

DirkH

Could someone run a Bayesian model on the Canada data to determine whether it’s better than noise? If it’s not better, you can cull the weather stations altogether and go on running your weather service with a random generator.

jeef

The data’s worse than we thought!

No doubt EC has many problems as MaxL pointed out. I have a few problems with the Pembina Institute, the apparent story source. You will notice that they don’t even list this issue on their web site. My experience is, take what ever they say with a large grain of salt. Specifically if they are talking about climate change, coal, CO2 or Oilsands. We all know EC has suffered from budget cuts and I am sure the network is not as good as it should or could be. I am also sure some of what Pembina is saying is factual. Knowing these people however I am also quite sure some of it is skewed, left out, misinterpreted, etc. for political and ideological reasons. Where possible it is best to contrast what Pembina says against what the Fraser Institute says. The truth is usually someplace in the middle.

The pattern that is emerging, it’s far easier to hide the lie in a mess. It seems to be the pattern worldwide, doesn’t it. Might I say, data a mess, it’s the first sign of a scoundrel.

Robert of Ottawa

A little background to this “report”.
Canada has been ruled for 80% of its history by a “Liberal” establishment; mostly personified by the Liberal Party of Canada, a virtual familly business of Paul Desmarais in the past couple of decades. Being in government for so much of the time, all the establishment, including the “civil service” and judiciary, is stuffed with like-minded grovelling Liberals.
There has been several recent episodes of heads of sections of the Canadian government bureaucracy speaking out against the heathen non-Liberal gvoernment.
This report falls into this same story-line. Note that the source of this report is Environemnt Canada (EC). It does not criticize the competence of those at EC, rather it lays the blame at a non-existance reduction in financing of the EC projects.
These are bureaucrats who feel threatened by non-team members running the government and, shudder, should they get a majorioty, they may reduce government payroll.

David Ball

That map shows quite warm in Calgary. It has NOT been quite warm in Calgary AT ALL. My tax dollars funding obfuscation.

J. Knight

This is just another example of how corrupted the data is that’s used to claim global warming. My God, if Canada’s system isn’t working, how in the world can we have any confidence in places like the Sudan, Myamar, Burkina Faso or Bolivia? Or even in western nations, when Canada would have to be included as one of the most competant societies ever.
I’ve completely lost faith in the climate system, and that’s why I’m here at WUWT. Someone, somewhere, is going to have to untangle this mess, and Anthony is one of the few I trust to help do it. Lots of work to do, folks, and lots of damage to undo.

TomRude

Let’s be careful with this report and the FP article. Let’s NOT forget that EC and the meteorological society is a hot bed of global warming activists. It is the funding for militant climate change research that has funneled money away from meteorological work. The same people now are crying and appealing to Harper…
The budget cuts are also their way to promote funding for their pet projects about climate change and not what they should be doing that is offering quality previsions instead of telling you what weather it is when you can simply glance through your own window!
There was an excellent article by Tim Ball last January about the Canadian example:
“Gordon McBean was the person responsible for the singular and devastating direction the department took. He came with a PhD and quickly achieved high rank. He brought his political view of environmental issues and particularly global warming expressed in a speech to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1995. He spent his career promoting these views and virtually destroyed the Canadian weather service while wasting billions of dollars. The Auditor General put the cost at $6.8 billion from 1997 to 2005.”
Read the rest at http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/18468

rbateman said:
If major cooling is sneaking up on us, we’ll be the last to know. Sounds like a disaster is already in place, just add an event and stir.
Good Grief !!!
One gets the impression that it is a kind of mixed bag at Environment Canada. They know about the past cold but they seem to push global warming mostly despite the declining annual national temperature departures since 1998..
If one goes to the Environment Canada web page on Climate Change one gets the impression that they only see global warming ahead for the globe and Canada. The entire web page talks to” global warming” under the guise of “climate change” http://ec.gc.ca/default.asp?lang=En&n=7E1F9B7B-1
Rarely is any mention of the equal possibility of global cooling .For example they say,
Every region in Canada is feeling the effects of the changing climate. In the Arctic, snow cover and sea-ice has decreased. Glaciers and ice-caps are retreating. In the south, winter snow is melting earlier. Water levels in the Great Lakes are dropping. Sea levels are rising. Plants are developing earlier and growing seasons are longer because of warmer temperatures. Average temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere over the past half century are higher than at any time in the last thousand years.
The changing climate is also causing an increase in extreme weather events such as heat waves, droughts, floods, forest fires, storm surges and coastal erosion. These hazards can be costly and dangerous. http://www.ec.gc.ca/default.asp?lang=En&n=2967C31D-1
Yet if one were to read Environment Canada’s own web page called Canada’s Top Ten Weather Stories, a completely different picture emerges. http://www.ec.gc.ca/meteo-weather/default.asp?lang=En&n=3318B51C-1
. Below are some quotes from the above web page and some weather stories from 2008 and 2009. Similar winter climate and cooler annual climate in general may occur during the next several years with the coming La Nina and the negative PDO to be followed by a negative AMO some years later
YEAR 2008
A NEVER ENDING WINTER
Ontario and Quebec endured one of the longest and snowiest winters in years. At times, even snow enthusiasts had had enough and were desperate for spring. Every winter sees snow on the ground for weeks at a time, but not every winter has snow falling almost every day. Winter 2007-2008 was defined by the amount of snow and the record number of snow events. The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River Basin registered its third-wettest winter in 61 years, with most of the precipitation falling as the white stuff.
http://www.ec.gc.ca/meteo-weather/default.asp?lang=En&n=B2EA41B2-1
YEAR 2009
From December to August inclusive, the Prairies tied for the coldest nine months in 27 years. Every city in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and central and northern Alberta endured nine straight months with below normal temperatures. In Winnipeg, for example, there had never been ten consecutive months below normal in a century – possibly the longest stretch since the 1880s.
http://www.ec.gc.ca/meteo-weather/default.asp?lang=En&n=82C7E150-1

MattN

“Human quality control of climate data ceased as of April 1, 2008. ”
No wonder GISTEMP is off the farking chart….

MaxL

latitude says:
August 23, 2010 at 3:30 pm
MaxL says:
August 23, 2010 at 2:45 pm
Another funny example is when it gets real hot and the heat coming off an airport tarmac interferes with the visibility sensors, which start reporting drizzle. The radio broadcasters do not know any of these problems and you often hear them advertising the hot temperature along with drizzle in some areas.
===================================================
That is not funny Max!
You are darn right it is not funny! But when you have to deal with things like that on a regular basis, after a while you can only laugh.
Whenever one does their own analysis of climate data, you have to, as well, do your own quality control and not assume all is ok.