Yet another error in NSIDC graphs?

UPDATE: problem solved, see below.

I wonder if NSIDC actually looks at their own output from day to day? I know that sounds harsh, but the reality is that bloggers keep finding their errors and pointing them out to them, while at the same time the head of NSIDC Dr. Mark Serreze refuses to apologize for his comment “I have yet to lose any sleep over what is talked about in WattsUpWithThat or any other similar blog that insists on arguing from a viewpoint of breathtaking ignorance.

Last night I published NSIDC’s April Sea Ice Update along with an NWS report about record Bering Sea Ice. Simon F. was first to spot it within minutes.

Simon F. says:

May 3, 2012 at 9:19 pm

There appears to be another glaring error on the NSIDC page about arctic sea ice. Look at these two images: http://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/images/daily_images/N_stddev_timeseries.png & http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/files/2012/05/Figure2.png – How come one practically touches the mean and the other never gets close?

I figured I’d wait until morning to see if NSIDC fixed the issue themselves. Nope. Let’s look at those graphs.

http://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/images/daily_images/N_stddev_timeseries.png

OK, nothing wrong with this one. Note how the sea ice kisses the normal line. NSIDC alludes to this in their April Summary saying: Arctic sea ice reaches near-average extent in April

http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/files/2012/05/Figure2.png

Hmmm….the blue line no longer kisses the normal line.

Since these graphs have the same scale, doing an overlay is easy.

It seems the average line has shifted. WUWT?

Why do bloggers keep having to point out NSIDC’s errors in their public presentations to their scientists? This is the second time in a month such errors have been spotted by bloggers, prompting NSIDC to do a correction last month.

NSIDC fixes their Arctic Sea Ice graphing problem

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

And of course the first time we pointed out a glaring error, that the satellite sensor failed, I was told it wasn’t worth blogging about.

Errors in publicly presented data – Worth blogging about?

NSIDC pulls the plug on Arctic Sea Ice Graphs

No good deed goes unpunished I suppose.

UPDATE: 9:15AM PST

I’ve heard from Dr. Walt Meier at NSIDC, and they are working to fix the problem. He sends his thanks for spotting the problem. – Anthony

UPDATE2: 2:30PM PST.

This came in earlier today at 12:32, but I was busy with other issues. The problem has been solved. Walt Meir writes:

We’ve corrected the image.

Thank you again for bringing it to our attention. It’s always good to have multiple eyes on things like this since we’re not an operational center and don’t always catch things, especially when we’re busy with other responsibilities.

Here is the corrected Figure 2 image:

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ibbo

We had the changing of the measurement when the line was about to cross the average line, now the average line is shifted further away ?
‘Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me
i’d give them the benefit of the doubt but for the previous issues.

Günther

What is the relevance of this? Is this so important that it deserves its own blog post? I find mistakes all the time on websites of different scientific organisations. I tell them, they thank me, no problem.
REPLY: What is the relevance of you poo-pooing every thread we do on sea ice? Bug off. – Anthony

“Errors”? The incompetence argument is wearing a little thin. It is the breathtaking arrogance that really concerns me.

Chuck Nolan

“but the reality it that bloggers keep finding their errors”
—–
should be “reality is” not “it”

These are simple graphs. The values that determine the lines should always result in a “dot” occurring in the same place. Since the dots move, how do the values change?
The answer must be that they are not simple graphs but equations derived from graphs that have time-dependent corrections to the values being posted. Where any value shows up depends on how today feeds backwards. That’s weird. I suppose it is possible that they are Photoshop overlays done manually, but I can’t believe NSIDC is that crude.
But maybe I should lower my expectations.

drobin9999

Maybe they forgot to change the ‘climatology’ line on the 2nd graph from centered window to trailing average.

Kelvin Vaughan

“I have yet to lose any sleep over what is talked about in WattsUpWithThat or any other similar blog that insists on arguing from a viewpoint of breathtaking ignorance.“
You must realise he spent years learning all that he knows and if he finds out it was a complete waste of time he will be shattered. Especially if breathtaking ignorance proves to be correct.

paullm

May 4, 2012 by Anthony Watts :
“….head of NSIDC Dr. Mark Serreze refuses to apologize for his comment “I have yet to lose any sleep over what is talked about in WattsUpWithThat or any other similar blog that insists on arguing from a viewpoint of breathtaking ignorance.“”
Being ever optimistic I’d suggest Dr. Serreze take a serious cup of coffee in the morning prior to beginning his work, taking for granted he does wake up at all before stumbling into work.

drobin9999

Do we really have to have the WUWT snotty meter pegged at 10 on every post? Relax folks, this isn’t an evil plot to pull the wool over anybody’s eyes.
REPLY: Do you really have to make “snotty” comments that add nothing to the debate of the issue at hand? Nobody is forcing anyone to click on the meter. I can’t help it if readers like what I write about.
I can if you wish enable comment ratings, and then we can see how you comment fares. – Anthony

Mike

The fear of creeping humiliation in the presence of breathtaking ignorance or is it just banal stupidity ?

Peter Whale

Dr. Mark Serreze does not care whether his graphs are correct or not as long as they give the standard warmist message otherwise he would be grateful and acknowledge the corrections. Another bought and paid for “scientist”

Perhaps the NSIDC have been obliged to lay off the intern who knew how to operate ‘The Excel’ ?

Mike Bryant

It’s time for some big changes. I know it’s not fraud… But what is it then?
I’m a plumber and this sort of incompetence (or whatever it is, is) is followed by dismissals.
Like I said… It’s time for sweeping changes…

Phillip Bratby

It’s about time the average was taken over the years 1979 to 2011. But that would be cherry-picking! LoL

Brad

They shifted the average line a nine day average and kpet the “real” line at a 5 day average, effectively shifting the average line to four days out of sync with the real line. They clearly did this intentionally, I will not accuse them of breathtaking ignorance. Just maybe breathtaking stupidity and a want to prove their meme at all costs, even the cost of doing good science.
Has anyone commented on the changes in the temp record yet? These guys are not doing science any longer.

Joseph Bastardi

Anthony has always given people the benefit of the doubt and in fact in the last little blunder he did too. Serreze is the prophet of the death spiral, so I would not expect him to apologize for anything. When an error I made about their site was pointed out, I apologized over and over for it, as soon as I found out, but still got fried over the coals by the Romminstas and that bunch ( when they get bored, they simply pull out their favorite pinata, me and beat it..thought I would put a little cinco de Mayo flavor into this for you all)
In any case, at the very least, the folks at the top should get a hold of this situation. I watch the Norsex site anyway, I dont normally see things as strange there. It almost seems like things like this are meant to bait us into a fight, and at the very least make you wonder what is going on

This sea ice story brings up an issue worth discussing. In 2009 http://www.wattsupwiththat.com reported a glitch in NOAA’s carbon dioxide update. NOAA’s Dr. Pieter Tans quickly verified and corrected the problem and responded to Anthony with a polite e-mail to that effect. That’s the way these matters should always be handled. The arrogance displayed by Dr. Mark Serreze with regard to sea ice is as puzzling as it is unacceptable. The University of Hawaii Press has just published my book “Hawaii’s Mauna Loa Observatory: Fifty Years of Monitoring the Atmosphere.” This book was written on assignment from NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory, which did not tell me what to write and which gave me total access to everything I wanted to review or photograph. I interviewed more than 50 scientists connected with the Mauna Loa Observatory for this book (including Dr. Tans). While they certainly represented a very wide range of view points, they were all courteous in their demeanor. Perhaps Dr. Serreze should get to know some of the MLO veterans and staff so he can better appreciate the value of diplomacy when commenting about those with whom he disagrees, especially when they are right and he is wrong.

Latitude

drobin9999 says:
May 4, 2012 at 8:13 am
Do we really have to have the WUWT snotty meter pegged at 10 on every post? Relax folks, this isn’t an evil plot to pull the wool over anybody’s eyes.
=================================
I agree….it’s just gross incompetence

stan

Before the people of the world spend trillions on a “problem”, it should not be too much to ask the fearmongering scientists to learn how to take the temperature properly, use a computer, draw a graph, check their work, test others’ work, and answer simple questions without stumbling into illogical fallacies.
I know we are supposed to bow down to their authority, but they still haven’t shown that they can distinguish their asses from holes in the ground.

oMan

Humility and good humor are among our best weapons –both offensively (to persuade others when we are in fact right) and defensively (to retain credibility and respect when we’re in fact wrong). As others have noted, it is short-sighted for those running NSIDC to answer their questioners with anything except endless patience and, when NSIDC is found to be in error, infinite gratitude to those who point it out.
Short version: “A soft answer turneth away wrath.”

ConfusedPhoton

“I have yet to lose any sleep over what is talked about in WattsUpWithThat or any other similar blog that insists on arguing from a viewpoint of breathtaking ignorance.“ Breathtaking ignorance?
As opposed to Dr. Mark Serreze scientific contributions
“The Arctic is screaming,”
“The ice is in a “death spiral”
Yeah right – more like contributions to Sesame Street!

I’ll bet if Serreze’s bank changed the way they calculated his monthly average balance (in such a way as to disadvantage him) it would be worthy of discussion.

Bob Ramar

NSIDC appears to be heavily invested in the “human-caused global warming” mantra. They are, after all, an agency of the federal government. If a worker can ‘tweak’ the graphing paramaters to make the extent line not hit the mean line, great. The fact that there are others looking over their shoulders who have access to much of the same information is not really important to them. I doubt seriously that a congressman or congressional staff person has the interest to even look for sites like WUWT or has the ability to understand the data presented and be able to draw logical conclusions and inferences from it. These people only see the ‘official’ data, read the ‘official’ interpretation of it, and proceed from there.

Bruce Cobb

It is, of course, a total coincidence that these “mistakes” always favor the Warmist stance. Any cynicism about this is unwarranted, and saddens Walt, and we do not want that on our conscience. I am sure a completely logical excuseexplaination will be forthcoming.

Chuck L

Given Serreze’s history of proclaiming death spirals of the Arctic ice, I cannot help but to be cynical and suspicious of whether this is merely incompetence or is an intentional act designed to further the CAGW narrative.

Shevva

The only other place I’ve seen GOD complex’s like climate science is in my local hospital and they do actually save lives there.

Sean Peake

Has anyone bother to check the Antarctic ice extent to see if there have been any adjustments there, too?

JFD

I can’t tell for sure which way the average line moved. On the overlay chart, the top average line appears to be better centered within the gray area than the bottom averaged line. If this observation is correct then the earlier average line could be the culprit. Further, the lettering on the graphs is not the same size so resizing has been used on one of the graphs while doing the overlay. I suggest you redo the comparison, Anthony.
This does not in any way excuse the snottiness of Dr. Mark Serreze. He is sans le doute a panty waist.

Roger

This is not incompetence, its a continuous attempt to defraud and mislead the public. The ice graphs ALWAYS go down when an “adjustment” is made. All these guys will have to account for using public monies to mislead the public.

Matt G

The average line has shifted up for no reason I can think of other than it was getting too close to the normal line for comfort. Can’t be a more recent timeline average update or the average line would have gone down. Seems like a change done on purpose and if so shame on you NSIDC. Thanks for confirming for us that science is no longer important any more in your department.

Jack Langdon

Speaking of screwed up graphs; have you noticed cyrosphere today’s Arctic ice comparison chart dates are not working correctly. http://home.comcast.net/~ewerme/wuwt/cryo_compare.jpg

What is it about climate scientists? They keep getting CAUGHT messing with data to misrepresent what is happening in reality. It’s like the whole lot of them need to be fired. I”m not sure that I mean that metaphorically at this point.
There is simply no excuse for this type of “mistake”, assuming it’s a mistake at all. You see it begs the question if it’s really a mistake.
This is why science is suppose to be reproducible… so that others can verify the results to ensure they are done correctly or at least in a reasonably justifiable manner given the circumstances. When reproducibility is lost it’s no longer science.
I ask that NSIDC cough up the source code for their graphing system and the actual data feed (assuming they haven’t already) and let us review their code and plot our own graphs. They are publicly funded so they have no excuses to hid behind. In necessary a Freedom of Information Request for all versions of their source code, binaries, and data feeds plus any documentation to be provided on an ongoing basis. Whenever a change is made the new source code should be posted on their web site at the time the change is implemented.
Open Public Science needs to be the rule rather than the exception. If they want trust and respect then they as scientists need to provide the means to verify their work, their data, their graphs, their conclusions, their math, their assumptions, etc. If they fail to do so they are not following the scientific method nor are they honoring the people who pay their bills and wages.
Oh, Steven Goddard also has an article about this here (beating you to it Anthony [;)] ):
http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2012/05/04/nsidc-naughtiness-returns/

Q. Daniels

drobin999 wrote:
Do we really have to have the WUWT snotty meter pegged at 10 on every post? Relax folks, this isn’t an evil plot to pull the wool over anybody’s eyes.
REPLY: Do you really have to make “snotty” comments that add nothing to the debate of the issue at hand? Nobody is forcing anyone to click on the meter. I can’t help it if readers like what I write about.
I can if you wish enable comment ratings, and then we can see how you comment fares. – Anthony

drobin999’s style is all the rage in blogtrolls. Volokh.com has a particularly bad infestation. You won’t get anything substantive out of them because they don’t have anything. Just more ad hom.
Some of them are paid professionals. One particular group uses dial-up services in Virginia to cover their tracks.

Steve Oregon

2 points
Has it not become exceedingly obvious that “WUWT Review” has far surpassed “Peer Review” and will only grow to make nearly obsolete what has become pal review.
Who would argue that outdated “Peer Review” is more effective than the instant global review by the limitless skilled critiquing WUWT provides.
In our rapidly advancing tech world the image of a few chin rubbers pondering a paper in isolation is quickly becoming a picture of a horse and buggy era.
Second point- Has there been any “errors” which falsely displayed far too much sea ice?
Imagine if this latest error moved the normal line in the opposite direction and showed Arctic sea ice surpassing normal by a hefty amount.
Is it unreasonable to suspect that it’s probably happened many times but remarkably always gets caught before being released. “Oh that can’t be right. We better look at that some more”.

Tot up the time you have spent. Charge it at a realistic rate like $60/hour and send them the bill.
Then just publish the invoice here.
Too many people have been taken us sceptics for granted, and far from crediting our hard work, have either been part of the lynch mob to have us locked up as “deniers”, have egged on others, or perhaps worst and stood by knowing it was happening and said nothing.
As I said send them the bill, it is time they paid up!

Interstellar Bill

Adjustments of past temperatures weren’t enough, so now they adjust current sea ice. Memes rule over reality and science goes missing. If we do get a Grand Minimum it will be fun to see them try to adjust that out of existence.

Man Bearpigg

If there was a death spiral of Arctic sea ice would Serreze lose his job? There wouldn’t be much for him to do then would there?

pwl says:. “You see it begs the question if it’s really a mistake
There was a labour aparachik in the UK who on 911 said: “a good day to bury bad news”.
Is this a red rag to the sceptic bull? No?
So, why do I feel like some great oaf looking at a fluttering rag?

Sad that positions of power are held by untrustworthy individuals. . Only a fool continues to allow themselves to be lied to.
REPLY: I don’t know that they are “untrustworthy”, and I think generalizations like that should be reserved for people like Joe Romm, Mike Mann, Bill McKibben, and Dave Appell who have in fact proven themselves as such.
I think NSIDC simply has a case of bureaucracy blinders, as do many similar government organizations. – Anthony

I’m constantly amazed at how tone deaf guys like Serreze are in situations like this. The public’s belief in CAGW is way down and ever increasing numbers of people believe the alarmists are a bunch of idiots yet we still see mistakes like this still occur. And when they occur instead of being thankful for having the error pointed out we see instead an outburst of emotional bluster and venom.
Just how did this guy get to be head of the NSIDC anyway? Did he win a competition for the longest pony tail?

OssQss

Hummm, I wonder if the IRS would let me underestimate my taxes or if a publicly held company would be permitted to under/over estimate revenue on a regular basis without penalty ?
Ya think!
http://500motivators.com/plog-content/thumbs/motivate/me/large/402-facepalm-your-doing-it-wrong.jpg

Paul Matthews

There is absolutely no excuse for this.
NSIDC know perfectly well that lots of people watch their graphs on a (dare I say) almost obsessive day-by-day basis. And yet on their main page http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/
the two contradictory graphs are there on the same page, one at the top and one about half way down. It will be interesting to see what excuse they try to come up with.

scarletmacaw

JFD says:
May 4, 2012 at 8:55 am
I can’t tell for sure which way the average line moved. On the overlay chart, the top average line appears to be better centered within the gray area than the bottom averaged line. If this observation is correct then the earlier average line could be the culprit. Further, the lettering on the graphs is not the same size so resizing has been used on one of the graphs while doing the overlay. I suggest you redo the comparison, Anthony.
Look at where the average line intersects the y-axis. It has moved up about 0.2 million kilometers squared. So has the grey SD squared area. The 2012 line has not moved up, nor has the 2007 line (although that’s a bit harder to tell).

woodNfish

What is truly amazing is that the government has so many breathtakingly stupid people like Serreze in charge of these agencies. You would think that with their overblown salaries and pension plans that we could get some decent quality employees in there, but apparently it is mostly morons who work for our [SNIP: Let’s not go there. -REP] government.

DR

So if there were no bloggers could it be assumed NSIDC would find and correct their errors? Personally I see no reason to trust one thing these folks present to the public and by association, other scientists using their data.

Harriet Harridan

Well done for spotting their error, but I have to say I’m with the people saying turn down the shock-o-meter. Point it out, sure, but less of the adjectives.

David L. Hagen

If “climate” is supposed to be the long term 30 year average, why does NIDC only calculate the 20 year instead of 30 year average? i.e., from 1979-2000 rather than from 1979 to 2010?
To hide the increase?

DirkH

My theory is that they have two teams trying to adjust the data with different methods. The members of the teams are not allowed to see the output of their algorithms. Both teams get as input the same measurements (satellite photos).
As amusement for the public, the webserver chooses to display one of the results randomly.
The team that manages to compute the lower summer sea ice minimum gets a pay rise.

DR

I think NSIDC simply has a case of bureaucracy blinders, as do many similar government organizations. – Anthony

Then it should be just as easy to find errors not in favor of the AGW meme. What is the ratio? Really, can they be counted on one hand?