Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics –Kiwi Style
By Andi Cockroft, reporting from New Zealand
Hosted by the local Motorcycle Club for the past 40 years or so, it is designed to attract the hard-core, die-hard, perhaps psychiatrically disturbed, kiwi riders from around New Zealand and some from overseas.
Not for the faint-hearted, the SUV Clubs used to organise a similar event, which I have to confess as a younger and much more foolish individual, I would participate in with great relish each year – why on earth I would subject myself to camping (in a tent), above the snow line in freezing conditions, to drive in near-impossible locations and still call it fun has to be the act of someone completely unhinged. Yet if it were to be run again I’m certain I would be pretty tempted.
But talking of unhinged, here in New Zealand (we actually refer to it as Godzone), a quiet revolution is taking place involving our National Institute of Weather and Atmosphere (NIWA) and a volunteer group of sceptics The New Zealand Climate Science Education Trust (NZCSET) via the Courts. NIWA are (you would think), tasked with maintaining amongst many things, a temperature record called the 7 station series or 7SS.
The start of these events was originally reported way back in 2010 in WUWT here. To save reiterating past WUWT threads, the statement of claim by NZCSET can be found here, and NIWA’s statement of defence here.
Concern has been growing in Godzone for some time, since it transpired that at least according to official temperature records, Godzone is warming twice as fast as the Global Average. Since these records feed into the Australasian records, then into the SH records and finally into the IPCC. Prime territory for cooking the books perchance?
Although what appears to be happening is that our history is being rewritten – our ancestors were mistakenly recording temperatures that were just too hot – some degree of cooling was required. Once “adjustments” are made we can clearly see the trend as required by dogma.
But people can make a difference too. I well remember about 20 years ago, residents of Wellington began petitioning the Met Office about its daily temperature reports. For those who may not know, there is some rivalry between the Capital Wellington, and our largest City Auckland.
In this instance, not only is Auckland naturally warmer (and wetter) than Wellington, but Wellington’s official temperature record was taken at the airport – on average some 2oC cooler than the CBD. Eventually the official record was moved in to town and so immediately adjustments are required.
However, what NZCSET argue, is that ignoring the “adjustments”, mean temperature over Godzone has been pretty constant at around 12.6 ± 0.5oC – This from “New Zealand – Unaffected by Global Warming” – discussed later.
Following initial filing of papers before the Court in August 2010, NIWA posted a Statement of Defence, in which para 7(a) states that “there is no ‘official’ or formal New Zealand temperature record”.
Most amazingly, para 8(b) states that the New Zealand Temperature Record (NZTR) boldly displayed on their website is not actually a “Public Record” for the purposes of the Public Records Act – using the exemption of “special collections” – para 4(b)) tells us they are non-public records used for “research purposes”.
Para 4, sees NIWA deny it has any obligation to use the best available data or best scientific techniques, although conceding that it has statutory duty – viz: “That a Crown Research Institute should pursue excellence in all its activities:”
Front and centre to all this controversy is one Jim Salinger, formerly a Government Scientist and who had been employed by NIWA since its inception in 1992. Unfortunately for Jim, his outspoken ways saw him summarily dismissed in early 2009, with the employment Courts later upholding the sacking.
Until Jim became involved, the “Official Records” for Godzone showed no significant trend since records began way back in 1852 – all that was to change however.
As part of a thesis for his 1982 doctorate, our Jim produced an annexe paper that showed significant warming. This paper was not central to his doctorate, was never reviewed or published, yet it has now become front and central to NIWA, Godzone Government, and as a Lead Author, Jim has made certain it made its way as a major component to the Australasian section of the IPCC AR3, and subsequently HadCRUT – hey every little bias serves to raise “Global” temperatures.
Summarised in 2011, the NZCSC published a paper “New Zealand – Unaffected by Global Warming”, in which the actions of Salinger were laid bare.
Quadrant Online came up with an excellent summary here, well worth the read.
In Godzone, the NZTR is primarily made up of data derived from 7 locations – the so-called seven-station series or 7SS. The final data was tortured beyond belief (red bars above), using adjustments that NIWA have conveniently “lost”, and so cannot replicate.
When challenged, Jim trotted out a new, improved version – the eleven-station series or 11SS – with new and improved torture.
By review in December 2010 (the Review), NIWA published a revised version of the NZTR, but this review offered nothing new and the official line still stood. That report can be downloaded here.
So where now – this is still heading to the Courts – in fact is due there any day now.
Bob Carter, respected Adjunct Research Professor at James Cook University, Queensland, has been wheeled in by the NZCSET and has produced an excellent Affidavit here – again a document well worth the read.
In his affidavit, Bob identifies significant flaws with the 7SS and the current NZTR, mainly
- Its statistical techniques do not conform to the nominated prior paper by Rhoades & Salinger (1993)
- It relies upon statistical comparisons between weather stations which are far apart and in different climate zones
- It does not correct for known or suspected data contamination caused by encroaching trees and/or urban heating
- It is materially different from the trend obtained when the precedent techniques of Rhoades & Salinger are strictly applied
- It contradicts the peer-reviewed findings in the literature
- It is inconsistent with other long-standing and well-respected temperature records
The 11SS is also seriously deficient
- It tracks data that were reliant on chance, and its findings therefore are meaningless
- Its missing data exceeds standard limits according to conventional statistical rules
- Its station selection and timing are unjustifiable and exhibit bias
Bob goes on to criticise the methodologies, and compares them to Jim’s annexe to his Doctoral Thesis. RS93 refers to the Rhoades & Salinger (1993) paper that the NZRT Review is supposedly based on, but in fact Bob’s critique finds otherwise – it is all remarkably similar to Jim’s thesis work.
Continuing his critique, Bob goes on to take apart NIWA’s case brick by brick, producing a nice pile of rubble. These are but the opening highlights – do read the affidavit yourself – it is inspirational.
Bob’s final Conclusions:-
- The manner in which the Review deals with statistical comparisons and UHI/shelter issues that are known defects of the original 7SS temperature series is highly unsatisfactory, and contrary to best-practice science
- The Review methodology is unprecedented, outdated and unpublished, and displays the several flaws that have been enumerated in the evidence above
- Adjustment calculations made in the Review are not based on methods substantiated in the scientific literature; moreover, the Review’s trend outcomes are not consistent with the published scientific literature, nor with unchallenged records of comparable data
- It is therefore my considered opinion that no reference can be placed on the results of the Review
Nice one Bob