As readers know, the recent paper Karl et al. 2015, written by the head of the National Climatic Data Center now NCEI, went to great lengths to try to erase “the pause” from the surface temperature record using a series of adjustments. Those adjustments are deemed unacceptable and criticized by some climate scientists, such as Dr. Richard Lindzen, Dr. Chip Knappenberger, and Dr. Pat Michaels, who recently wrote:
In addition, the authors’ treatment of buoy sea-surface temperature (SST) data was guaranteed to create a warming trend. The data were adjusted upward by 0.12°C to make them “homogeneous” with the longer-running temperature records taken from engine intake channels in marine vessels.
As has been acknowledged by numerous scientists, the engine intake data are clearly contaminated by heat conduction from the structure, and as such, never intended for scientific use. On the other hand, environmental monitoring is the specific purpose of the buoys. Adjusting good data upward to match bad data seems questionable, and the fact that the buoy network becomes increasingly dense in the last two decades means that this adjustment must put a warming trend in the data.
Dr. Judith Curry added:
My bottom line assessment is this. I think that uncertainties in global surface temperature anomalies is substantially understated. The surface temperature data sets that I have confidence in are the UK group and also Berkeley Earth. This short paper in Science is not adequate to explain and explore the very large changes that have been made to the NOAA data set. The global surface temperature datasets are clearly a moving target. So while I’m sure this latest analysis from NOAA will be regarded as politically useful for the Obama administration, I don’t regard it as a particularly useful contribution to our scientific understanding of what is going on.
Large adjustments accounted for the change, but one really should go back to the definition of “adjustments” to understand the true meaning and effect:
But, what if there were a dataset of temperature that was so well done, so scientifically accurate, and so completely free of bias that by its design, there would never be any need nor justification for any adjustments to the data?
Such a temperature record exists, it is called the U.S. Climate Reference Network, (USCRN) and it is also operated by NOAA/NCDC’s (NCEI) head administrator,Tom Karl:
These stations were designed with climate science in mind. Three independent measurements of temperature and precipitation are made at each station, insuring continuity of record and maintenance of well-calibrated and highly accurate observations. The stations are placed in pristine environments expected to be free of development for many decades. Stations are monitored and maintained to high standards and are calibrated on an annual basis. In addition to temperature and precipitation, these stations also measure solar radiation, surface skin temperature, and surface winds. They also include triplicate measurements of soil moisture and soil temperature at five depths, as well as atmospheric relative humidity for most of the 114 contiguous U.S. stations. Stations in Alaska and Hawaii provide network experience and observations in polar and tropical regions. Deployment of a complete 29-station USCRN network in Alaska began in 2009. This project is managed by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center and operated in partnership with NOAA’s Atmospheric Turbulence and Diffusion Division.
Yes the USCRN is state of the art, and signed off on by Tom Karl here:
So, since this state of the art network requires no adjustment, we can most surely trust the data presented by it. Right?
While we seldom if ever see the USCRN mentioned in NOAA’s monthly and annual “State of the Climate” reports to the U.S. public, buried in the depths of the NCDC website, one can get access to the data and have it plotted. We now have 10 years, a decade, of good data from this network and we are able to plot it. I’ve done so, here, using a tool provided for that very purpose by NOAA/NCDC/NCEI:
Note the NOAA watermark in the plot above.
Plotting that USCRN data, provides a duplicate of the above plot from NOAA/NCDC/NCEI, but also allows for plotting the trend. I’ve done so using the actual data from NOAA/NCDC/NCEI they provided at the source link above, using the DPlot program:
Clearly, a “pause” or “hiatus” exists in this most pristine climate data. In fact, a very slight cooling trend appears. But don’t take my word for it, you can replicate the plot above yourself using the links, free trial program, and USCRN data I provided from NOAA/NCDC/NCEI.
Let’s hope that Mr. Karl doesn’t see the need to write a future paper “adjusting” this data to make the last decade of no temperature trend in the contiguous USA disappear. That would be a travesty.