Is NOAA adjusting data to make droughts look worse than they are?

Guest essay by Michael Hove [Please note, new update at the end]

In the Spring of 2016, I was updating a North Dakota water resource presentation, which contained a Palmer Hydrological Drought Index (PHDI) chart from April of 2013. I was replacing an older NOAA PHDI chart (May 2005 to October 2013) with an updated NOAA PHDI chart (May 2005 to March 2016). These charts are simple screen captures from the NOAA web site. Then, something caught my eye. I noticed that the summer of 2011 was wetter in the 2016 dataset than in the 2013 dataset, and the summer of 2013 was drier in the 2016 dataset than in the 2013 dataset. I scaled both charts on the Y-Axis to check my first visual impression. The results of this comparison are shown below in Figure 1. This comparison showed that there were several years where the newer 2016 dataset was different from the older 2013 dataset, both wetter and drier. Obviously, NOAA has modified the historic data.

 

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Figure #1

This prompted me to look more closely at some other Palmer Drought Index data I have collected over the years. In 2006 I wrote a report using the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) and had downloaded the PDSI data from the NOAA website for the time frame of January 1977 to September, 2006. This 2006 dataset was for all nine NOAA climate divisions in North Dakota. Figure 2 shows the North Dakota climate division, which follow county boundaries.

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Figure 2

Next, I downloaded (in May 2016) the PDSI dataset for the same time frame as my 2006 PDSI dataset (January 1977 to September, 2006), see Figure 3. I then plotted the two dataset downloads (2006 & 2016) as bar charts for each climate division and also plotted the differences between the two datasets for each climate division. These charts provide a nice visual comparison for how NOAA has modified the historical PDSI data.

 

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Figure 3

To provide for a better visual comparison of the differences for all nine climate divisions, I created scatter plots of the “gray differences bar chart” and calculated the regression line for each of the charts. I then scaled the charts so that all nine of the climate divisions fit on a single page. From the scatter plots and regression you can see that seven of the climate divisions have had their historical data adjusted to produce a “drier” trend line, while two have their historical data adjusted to produce a “wetter” trend line. Also included are histograms of the “differences” data for each climate division.

I welcome any thoughts regarding the trends shown between the “Old Historic” and New Historic” data.

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[UPDATE BY WILLIS]: Michael, thanks for your fascinating post pointing out the changes in the PDSI. Like you, I was unaware of them.  After reading this post, I wrote to NOAA to ask about the change. Within hours I had the following reply:

On Sep 29, 2016, at 8:27 AM, Derek Arndt – NOAA Federal wrote:

When we switched to nClimGrid/nClimDv as our base US dataset in 2014, we recalculated many of our derivative products including the drought indices.

The methodology is documented in this 2014 article:

http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/JAMC-D-13-0248.1

This pending change and some early comparisons were first shared with the community in 2011.

https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/monitoring-references/docs/GrDD-Transition.pdf

More info:

https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/monitoring-references/dyk/nclimdiv-tmax-tmin

https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/monitoring-references/maps/us-climate-divisions.php

Thanks,
Deke

I thanked him for his quick response, and I invite folks to read about the changes in the linked documents. Note that they first wrote about the change back in 2011, three years before making it.

Best to everyone,

w.

[UPDATE 2]: Further information from NOAA:

On Sep 29, 2016, at 9:44 AM, Richard Heim <XXXXX@noaa.gov> wrote:

Hello Willis,

Thank you for your email. In addition to Deke’s response, I wanted to elaborate on a few things.

There are two parts to the answer to your question, Have you recently changed your method of calculating the Palmer Drought Severity Index?

The first part has to do with how Wayne Palmer devised his index back in the 1960s. The Palmer drought index uses an accounting water budget method to compute variables describing precipitation supply, precipitation demand, and a soil moisture component over the entire period of record of data. Then the method goes back and computes “normals” or CAFEC values for these quantities, then goes back and uses the CAFEC quantities to compute standardized indices (what eventually become the PDSI, PHDI, and Palmer Z Index). It also has a “backstepping” process that uses a probability that a drought or wet spell has ended feature. (I discussed this in a 2002 paper which can be found here:
http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/1520-0477%282002%29083%3C1149%3AAROTDI%3E2.3.CO%3B2)

For the current month and last few previous months, this backstepping feature can (almost always does) result in index values for recent months changing when a new month of data is appended. If a different standardizing period is used for the CAFEC computations, then all of the Palmer index values throughout the period of record will change. NOAA NCEI uses the 1931-1990 standardizing period, so the standardizing period hasn’t changed since the 1990s. (One can see that, due to these characteristics of the Palmer model, a user should never compare current Palmer index values they download currently to historical Palmer index values they downloaded years ago.) A slight programming error was discovered in the Palmer program which was corrected in 2013:

http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/national/2013/03/supplemental/page-7/

This resulted in very minor changes to the Palmer index values.

The second part of the answer has to do with the data that go into the computation of the Palmer indices. Historical precipitation and temperature are fed into the program. If these historical values change, then the indices themselves will change. For many decades, NOAA has computed the Palmer index values for climate divisions because the climate division dataset was the only century-scale NOAA spatially and temporally complete dataset. The climate division precipitation and temperature values were computed for many years by averaging the station data in each climate division (for 1931-present) and used a statistical technique to estimate climate division values from statewide values (for 1895-1930 because divisional values didn’t exist for that period). This method of calculating divisional temperature and precipitation values resulted in historical changes (discontinuities) that were due to changes in availability of stations (stations opened and closed over the decades) and changes in methods (the 1930/31 discontinuity), and did not reflect true climate conditions. An improved way of calculating the climate division values was implemented in early 2014 to correct for these deficiencies and it is described here:
http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/monitoring-references/dyk/climate-division-database-transition
This change in the historical data base was vetted both publicly and in the scientific community and was highly publicized at the time. How this change in temperature and precipitation affected the historical Palmer indices was (and still is) shown here:
http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/temp-and-precip/divisional-comparison/

I hope this answers your question. If you wish further clarification, I can be reached at XXXXX@noaa.gov

Sincerely,
Richard

I trust this clears things up.

w.

 

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103 thoughts on “Is NOAA adjusting data to make droughts look worse than they are?

  1. First thought.

    He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.
    George Orwell, 1984

    Climate of Gavin @climateofgavin has some explaining to do , I hope people on Twitter ask him many Q’s about this essay by Michael Hove.

    Nine work Michael Hove.

    • BTW, Gavin has has had me blocked on Twitter for some time after I starting posting AMO data charts and GISS charts that showed the past GISS data was changed ad they forgot to change the AMO data.

      • I was blocked by Gavin 2 years ago for politely querying why he doesn’t accept the then 16-18 year temp “pause” indicated from his own MSU satellite. !

        Telling.

    • I was thinking of another 1984 idea.
      Welcome to the Ministry of Truth.
      And the truth is just what we want it to be not what you know it to be.

      James Bull

    • The Palmer Drought Index uses temperature records to adjust the “effect” of the actual precipitation. Due to this, we have an official drought in parts of California with above average precipitation this year. It also must be above average rainfall for some ill defined length of time to ‘recover’.

      So if the cooked temperatures report hotter, you can end up in a “drought” that can not be ended by normal rainfall, and takes years for above average to end it.

      The constant fiddling of the temperatures automatically increase “drought”. The result has been several “flooding drought” in places from California to Texas…

      https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2015/07/20/flooding-drought-comes-to-california/

      https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2016/03/14/the-california-flooding-drought-can-it-end-now/

      https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2015/05/05/another-flooding-drought-the-broken-palmer-index/

      • You hit the target, dead center, E. M.. NOAA’s second response to W.E. does not substantially clear up the underlying issue. NOAA gave a surface level, conclusory, answer. The key is what lies behind this statement:

        Historical precipitation and temperature are fed into the program. If these historical values change, then the indices themselves will change.

        Unanswered:

        1. The code/algorithm of “the program” details.
        2. “Historical {data} values” changes details.

        Essentially, the NOAA response was, “Blobbity, blah, blah, blah, program; blobbity, blah, historical values.”

        Thus, we still do not know the answer to the question asked in the title of the posted article.

  2. Federal Records Act violation?

    “The head of each Federal agency shall make and preserve records containing adequate and proper documentation of the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, and essential transactions of the agency and designed to furnish the information necessary to protect the legal and financial rights of the Government and of persons directly affected by the agency’s activities.”

    “The head of each Federal agency shall notify the Archivist of any actual, impending, or threatened unlawful removal, defacing, alteration, corruption, deletion, erasure, or other destruction of records in the custody of the agency,”

      • It’s published as their best estimate of drought severity. It’s their job to evaluate it as well as they can. That’s what people expect of them. And if they can improve their estimate, they should.

      • So presumably there is some metadata or accompanying published papers explaining exactly how they have changed their processing and why the new processing is deemed a better metric that the old version.

        … assuming of course that this speculated change of method is the reason.

      • @ Nick Stokes or to improve the correlation of co2 to the droughts they predicted. If it were one instance of ” improving” records in favor of AGW that might be excusable. So what’s the reason for changing the record for co2 and temperature anomolies from March 2015 till now. As far back as I went for 55 years co2 anomolies followed temperature as of March 2015, as in co2 production went up but the ppm increase followed temperature for the entire 55 year record. Which basically says temperature trend was overall warmer but co2 didn’t cause it. There is no reason for ppm be at close to 3 ppm one year and less than 1 the next, or a trend downward that the only factor was temperature. Not a ” oh, variation is to be expected” type of events. In that if they change it often enough over the next few years, there will be no pattern. There is nothing stopping them from doing that now, nor would there be anything stopping them in the future. I can give a very strong example of what the AGW community did, they adjusted the historical data, then threw the original data out, it’s in a landfill beyond reach. It’s not even a subject of conversation anymore. Are the current temperatures right ? Who knows? They are dealing in tenths of a degree.

      • Regarding this statement of Rishrac: “As far back as I went for 55 years co2 anomolies followed temperature as of March 2015, as in co2 production went up but the ppm increase followed temperature for the entire 55 year record. Which basically says temperature trend was overall warmer but co2 didn’t cause it. There is no reason for ppm be at close to 3 ppm one year and less than 1 the next, or a trend downward that the only factor was temperature.”:

        Year-by-year variations in CO2 increase are caused by year-by-year temperature changes, since the latter (or precipitation changes associated with weather events that also cause short term global temperature changes such as El Nino) causes short term disturbances of the rate at which nature removes human-added CO2 from the atmosphere. Over periods of a decade or more, atmospheric CO2 increased more steadily.

      • @ Donald… over 55 years? It is more than a hand waving at an inconvenience in data. Co2 follows temperature. You know what’s wrong with the graph from the IPCC that shows the relationship between co2 and temperature? Temperature is in an anomolies for the year, while the co2 is the sum total. Once you break out the co2 anomolies for the year compared to temperatures for the year, the picture becomes very clear, co2 follows temperature. Especially in light of the fact of every increasing production of co2.
        Want to know what they changed ? They changed almost all of it, but the last 5 years they changed it so that some temps went up while some co2 levels dropped. They are trying to disassociate the relationship by adjusting the numbers. That’s not in the March 2015. I didn’t change the record.
        One other thing, are they going to revise every paper published on CAGW to reflect the instrumention error on TSI ? They rounded up originally to get the numbers to come out right. Now that this has become an issue, they are stating that they used a lower value, by about half. No they didn’t. There would have been errors in the final global warming numbers, about a 30% difference. A little too big of a difference. We will take a little off here and add a little there seems to be what climate change consensus is all about.
        What the AGW community is doing isn’t right. Not one warmest has said, “yea, that is a little strange”. I’ve had the exact same conversation about variations due to anything but temperature. I even said so. This isn’t going to go away. Because this isn’t the only thing that is happening with co2. It is only going to get worse for the AGW theory.
        The temperature anomolies per year will go down all by itself and co2 ppm per year will follow.
        No one in particle physics has ever said, ” if we give you access to the data, you won’t understand it ” or chemistry or biology or any other field. If anything they trot it out, ” here, do you see anything wrong?” I don’t argue about the j particle because it looks right, I don’t argue about the spin or leptons or quarks, it looks right, they don’t hide the information. The climate change people are evasive and even in the face of contradictory evidence, deny it. I’m telling you the evidence for co2 following temperature is solid.

      • quite a while if the changed calcs re “emloyment/unemployment” are anything to go by
        ditto the GDP and a swag of other stuff
        we dont see a single person fired demoted or in trouble ever.

    • Check for variation in the temps in the affected areas. PHDI uses temperature as an input to the calculation.

      • @Stokes, In reality, here typically the source of the data, (as stated above: PDSI from NOAA, time frame 77-06) are given. Most articles or comments on data start with, including several explicit former comparative dates and sources, are the NORM, not the exception. We know you are an antagonist, but in this case i would wager WUWT articles and comments provided more links to data, more specified sources, than any other blog under almost any agreed upon metric. With perhaps only one exceptional blog site.

        One beef, is the willingness amongst climate scientist to publish behind paywalls making access to this information prohibitive, considering a large portion of the research is paid with public dollars.

        Second beef, is the fact that NOAA, BOM, BMI, etc… make it extremely difficult or impossible to determine the quantitative basis for their ‘product’. Even lawsuits can’t pull some of their secrets out. I get more info from change-logs at sourceforge pertaining to projects where perhaps 300 people are interested than I get from my tax paid for public institutions. These institution assumptions appear to be that we wouldn’t be interested or would be in capable of understanding. Neither of which are true. Hence, we can conclude they don’t want us to have access to the basis of their products for other reasons. Even when, (case in point: DMI) they explain their methods, the actual difference between the products gets buried in some paywalled paper(s).

        Lastly, the comment “they should look” appears to fail to acknowledge the Mr Hove is paying attention and has looked but seems to have missed the clearly labeled ‘scientific basis of the products’ description pages with their change log \end_snide, so has provided this info for us to chew on. You seem proud to insinuate that he hasn’t looked, proud to point out that the product isn’t data, when in fact our experience is that

        when we look it is paywalled,
        when we point out it isn’t data we are screamed at we are idiots that don’t understand the science.

        All that your drooling connotative disparging comments do is reinforce the rift between us.

        You could have, but choose not to, have commented in a professional manner. Many times you do.
        But using your words, ” ‘As typical’ we can count on you to provide comments laced more with attitude than with substance. “

    • Nick, do you know if NOAA explain why they make changes?

      I personally don’t have any problem with past estimates being changed, as long as the methodology is known. I won’t say past records, as you shouldn’t change a record and still call it a record. It is a little concerning, however, that in 2016 we are so hopeless at measuring and calculating data, that we need to keep on putting it through a new method to make it more accurate.

      • Agreed. I personally don’t care enough to look, but it maybe should be mentioned in the articles, since the article paints the picture of something untoward.

        Maybe the author can advise if NOAA offer or publish any explanations to changes? After all, if its published somewhere, perhaps it is something that makes total sense. Or, on the other hand, if it isn’t published and NOAA don’t want to explain the reasoning, I think it is fair game to be viewed as suspicious.

      • I think someone who wants to rationalize and promote the process should verify the rationale. Typically here, we have no links, no references to papers, nothing to work with.

      • Nick Stokes September 29, 2016 at 2:14 am How about you hold yourself to the same standard? You find out why NOAA did not explain why the changes were made! I recall in college being required, UP FRONT, to explain any and all variances in my work. Why should NOAA be held to a lower standard?

    • So how many “scientific” papers, masters and doctoral thesis based on these government databases are no longer valid since the underlying values or algorithms have been changed? Changing data may be valid but changing without explanation is incredibly wrong. There is NO excuse for this.

      • Alex, you can google “Indiana Pi bill” for an interesting story about legislating the value of Pi in 1897.

    • Nick Stokes September 29, 2016 at 12:58 am Edit

      “Obviously, NOAA has modified the historic data.”

      Data? It’s a calculated index. And presumably, they have changed their method of calculation.

      Thanks, Nick, I was thinking the same. However, I found no info on their website, so I emailed them to ask. We’ll see how it plays out. Here’s what I sent.

      TO: ncei.orders@noaa.gov, NCEI.REDR.Info@noaa.gov, ncei.monitoring.info@noaa.gov
      SUBJECT: Palmer Index

      Not sure who this question should go to, but have you recently changed your method of calculating the Palmer Drought Severity Index? I ask because of charges that you are manipulating the past, see here for details.

      Quick clarification would be good … your reputation is in play.

      w.

      Best regards to all, I’ll report back when (if ) they reply.

      w.

      • Dang, those boys are on the go, I have an authoritative answer to the question and it’s just 9 AM.

        On Sep 29, 2016, at 8:27 AM, Derek Arndt – NOAA Federal wrote:

        When we switched to nClimGrid/nClimDv as our base US dataset in 2014, we recalculated many of our derivative products including the drought indices.

        The methodology is documented in this 2014 article:
        http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/JAMC-D-13-0248.1

        This pending change and some early comparisons were first shared with the community in 2011.
        https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/monitoring-references/docs/GrDD-Transition.pdf

        More info:
        https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/monitoring-references/dyk/nclimdiv-tmax-tmin
        https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/monitoring-references/maps/us-climate-divisions.php

        Thanks,
        Deke

        Deke, thanks for your quick response. I’ll post it up on the website in question.

        Best regards,

        w.

        So … there’s the answer to the mystery. We are nothing if not a full-service website …

        w.

      • That seems a different one, Nick, as the reply Willis was given stated the change was made in 2014, where as the one mentioned previously was a month before he first downloaded the data.

        Still, mystery cleaned up, now it is for the author or someone else to go through it.

      • Further information from NOAA …

        On Sep 29, 2016, at 9:44 AM, Richard Heim wrote:

        Hello Willis,

        Thank you for your email. In addition to Deke’s response, I wanted to elaborate on a few things.

        There are two parts to the answer to your question, Have you recently changed your method of calculating the Palmer Drought Severity Index?

        The first part has to do with how Wayne Palmer devised his index back in the 1960s. The Palmer drought index uses an accounting water budget method to compute variables describing precipitation supply, precipitation demand, and a soil moisture component over the entire period of record of data. Then the method goes back and computes “normals” or CAFEC values for these quantities, then goes back and uses the CAFEC quantities to compute standardized indices (what eventually become the PDSI, PHDI, and Palmer Z Index). It also has a “backstepping” process that uses a probability that a drought or wet spell has ended feature. (I discussed this in a 2002 paper which can be found here:
        http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/1520-0477%282002%29083%3C1149%3AAROTDI%3E2.3.CO%3B2)

        For the current month and last few previous months, this backstepping feature can (almost always does) result in index values for recent months changing when a new month of data is appended. If a different standardizing period is used for the CAFEC computations, then all of the Palmer index values throughout the period of record will change. NOAA NCEI uses the 1931-1990 standardizing period, so the standardizing period hasn’t changed since the 1990s. (One can see that, due to these characteristics of the Palmer model, a user should never compare current Palmer index values they download currently to historical Palmer index values they downloaded years ago.) A slight programming error was discovered in the Palmer program which was corrected in 2013:

        http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/national/2013/03/supplemental/page-7/

        This resulted in very minor changes to the Palmer index values.

        The second part of the answer has to do with the data that go into the computation of the Palmer indices. Historical precipitation and temperature are fed into the program. If these historical values change, then the indices themselves will change. For many decades, NOAA has computed the Palmer index values for climate divisions because the climate division dataset was the only century-scale NOAA spatially and temporally complete dataset. The climate division precipitation and temperature values were computed for many years by averaging the station data in each climate division (for 1931-present) and used a statistical technique to estimate climate division values from statewide values (for 1895-1930 because divisional values didn’t exist for that period). This method of calculating divisional temperature and precipitation values resulted in historical changes (discontinuities) that were due to changes in availability of stations (stations opened and closed over the decades) and changes in methods (the 1930/31 discontinuity), and did not reflect true climate conditions. An improved way of calculating the climate division values was implemented in early 2014 to correct for these deficiencies and it is described here:
        http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/monitoring-references/dyk/climate-division-database-transition
        This change in the historical data base was vetted both publicly and in the scientific community and was highly publicized at the time. How this change in temperature and precipitation affected the historical Palmer indices was (and still is) shown here:
        http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/temp-and-precip/divisional-comparison/

        I hope this answers your question. If you wish further clarification, I can be reached at XXXXX@noaa.gov

        Sincerely,
        Richard

        I trust this clears things up.

        w.

    • Nick,
      Can you explain this obsession about drought among warmists, when warming means more evaporation and more precipitation and less global drought and even the mitigation of regional drought? If we are really measuring an increase in the severity of drought, cooling and not warming must be the cause. You do understand that the thickness per year in the ice cores is far greater during interglacial periods than during ice ages, or is this something that warmists feel they must deny because it doesn’t fit the narrative?

      Sure weather patterns migrate for many reasons, but this insane obsession with unsupportable catastrophes arising from CO2 emissions must stop. It’s a colossal waste of financial and intellectual capital that could be applied to tangible problems and the ultimate outcome of this foolishness will be to destroy the reputation of science as the arbiter of scientific truth. It’s bad enough we have politicians of every stripe lying to us about subjective issues, to have scientists lying to us about objective issues is intolerable.

    • Well if the science isn’t settled on how to evaluate drought what faith can be placed in a global temperature anomaly based on UHI affected thermometers (which were only initially intended to measure the actual local temperature and not as part of a global system) and buckets thrown over the side of ships at sea on the trade routes of the time. Good on them for updating their ‘method of calculation’ but I don’t know where that leaves us. Drought deniers perhaps? Having experienced the vile ‘denier’ smear of CAGW skeptics, you can’t blame people for being skeptical when ‘climate scientists’ start updating’ their ‘method of calculation’.

  3. I suspect, like GISS temperature, that these indices are simply the product of model reanalyses
    to which the raw data is simply an input.

  4. @BruceC
    How long would an accountant or Govt. Treasurer last if they changed their method of calculation?

    Actually, governments regularly change their methods of producing basic economic data – often for political reasons. Some are rather famous for it – particularly the shenanigans which accompanied the accession of various southern and eastern countries to the EU…

    • There may be changes to some calculations; there is not any changes to the basic data and fundamental results.
      There us a line for ‘adjustments’; e.g. late charges, corrections (double entries), even corrected reports.
      But each entry into the adjustments line is recorded and documented.

      • I don’t have a problem with data. It’s algorithms, that I question. Also, at what point in the data serieries does the algorithm change? Science? not likely. Politics? highly likely.

    • Actually, it was governmental recalculation of fiscal data for political reasons that contributed greatly to the crash in 2008.

  5. What’s really wrong with this is its unsurprising and par for the course , almost it’s what I expect from NOAA , BOM etc etc .

  6. It is good to keep and eye on this sort of thing and always backup older copies of datasets rather than just overwrite them with the updated versions.

    However, the first two things I want to see here is a link to the dataset concerned and a link to metadata / documentation explaining the processing and any possible changes made. Nether of those things are provided before questioning the behaviour of NOAA.

    The changes to SST ( using NMAT to “correct” daytime SST ) were blatant data rigging. If there is more of it going on here it needs exposing.

  7. In reply to Nick Stokes suggesting it is up to the author to ‘find out’ – I must respectfully disagree. One would expect a decent scientific institution and provider of data to advise (e.g. on the download data page) of any changes over the time course of the actual dataset. It would not be normal to have to check the validity of data or the methodology of its publication/presentation unless such declaration was made. On the presumption that this is considered ‘publicly’ owned data, it is clearly the responsibility of the provider to advise on any changes. The chap has noticed some changes, and I assume did not find any ready explanation – whether there is one remains to be seen – but the overall point is that any explanation should be made and publicised by the provider and not require ‘searching’ by the user.

    • Agreed, particularly where the raw data is publicly funded.
      Further when homogenisation or re analysis is undertaken the methods are also published and available on line.
      This would be a low standard, but one which has yet to be achieved.
      There is nothing more valuable for a nation than accurate records.
      In Australia that’s what the Chinese hacked when they went for the BOM.
      Potentially they can then build better models than us allowing them to pick agricultural markets here in Australia.
      The same applies in your country, the USA.
      Its not just a matter of transparency and the just use of funds and information for the nation.
      It is also a matter of economic survival, particularly if other nations steal a march on you with more reliable
      analysis .

    • “In reply to Nick Stokes suggesting it is up to the author to ‘find out’ – I must respectfully disagree.”

      Why respectfully? They’ve got their new kid on the block theory and the ear of the grant giving pollies, so it’s up to you to prove otherwise with all your Big Oil loot loser. Who needs data when the science is settled?

      When you want more grants naturally-
      http://www.msn.com/en-au/news/world/the-arctic-is-being-utterly-transformed-%E2%80%94-and-we%E2%80%99re-just-starting-to-learn-the-consequences/ar-BBwLdGs?li=AA5249&ocid=spartanntp

      “Basically, the whole Arctic is under-instrumented,” said Holdren. “The observation networks are too sparse in geographic extent, they’re too discontinuous in time, they’re not measuring everywhere all the things they should be measuring. We can’t say, for example, how much CO2 and methane emissions from the Arctic are actually going up. We know they are going up but we don’t really have a good handle on how fast and from precisely where.”

      • As usual – very diplomatic Nick.
        You, of course, know the answer.
        It can be alluded to a dog and a whistle for the conspiracists to answer.

  8. I did some analysis using SST Nino 3.4 (DJF) using KNMI Climate explorer site (monthly climate indices). It is mentioned there “1856-1949: from http://ingrid.ldgo.columbia.edu/SOURCES/.Indices/.nino/.KAPLAN/>Kaplan reconstruction; 1950-now: from http://www.cpc.noaa.gov/data/indices/>CPC (Reynolds OI SST)”. I did the same analysis using data from that site during 2010 and again on 2015. I found the same data were changed (made warmer) for later decades, though it is same for earlier periods.
    .

  9. Tony Heller,,P Homerwood have been posting this info for years… no one listened. I think they are beginning to now.

  10. I used to say you could tell global warming was happening because the past keeps getting colder. Apparently it keeps getting wetter too. At this rate the 1930’s will be an ice age before too long.

      • Ms. (well, that’s where women are supposedly from, lol) Mayor. How nice of you to join us today. The weather on Venus is, no doubt, of great interest to you. We on earth, however, find it largely irrelevant. ;)

        (Note: 1. The 1930’s were, around the world, WARM. 2. The North American “Dust Bowl” was caused not by drought (cold and dry), but, mainly by poor land management/farming practices long since abandoned in the U.S. and Canada.)

  11. Rewriting historical climate data is a regular thing.

    Goddard Institute for Space Studies changes their data several times year. Out of 87 editions of their Global-mean monthly Land-Ocean Temperature Index, gleaned from the Internet Archives WayBAck Machine, they changed the entry for January 1880 27 times since 2005. It was -20 in the August 2005 edition and today it’s -30.

    GISS says to “Divide by 100 to get changes in degrees Celsius (deg-C).” So they’ve lowered January 1880 by a tenth of a degree over the last decade.

  12. So – what did NOAA say when you contacted them?
    You used the big orange ‘Report Data Issue’ on their climate data home page, surely??

    you didn’t go straight to insinuating fraud without checking?

    • Did you check to see if the word “fraud” had been used in this article or in comments? There is only one instance as of this posting – in the post I am replying to.

  13. We ALL know the game that NOAA have been playing. It’s the same as GISS and HadCrut and possibly now RSS, too, not to mention endless ‘scientific’ papers and studies that arrive at bogus conclusions. Tony Heller and Paul Homewood have been telling (and showing) us this for years.

    It’s time leading climate sceptics got their heads and blogs together to produce a definitive expose on this blatant cheating. Put your differences aside and concentrate on whacking the alarmist scam-mers right where it hurts.

  14. There must remain no climate-related data in NOAA’ charge, whatsoever, that NOAA has not modified and corrupted. In this venture they are ably assisted by Goddard Institute and many other Climate Alarmist Bodies receiving CAGW Funding. Fortunately, Tony Heller has been documenting this for a long while. These alterations contravene all the fundamental tenets of Science.

  15. I often find Nick Stokes’ apologetics for “Climate” orthodoxy annoying. His arguments often seem reasonable at first glance. However, his usual method is to subtly deride past science while explicitly bolstering the contemporary. Almost without exception he betrays a Chronological Snobbery* which is a form of Appeal to Novelty**, a logical fallacy:

    The implicit assumption he makes about climate “data” from the past (Including last week!) is that it is erroneous – or at the least – more erroneous than anything that can be produced, concocted or worked up by NOAA this week!

    *C.S. Lewis coined the term, saying it is:
    “the uncritical acceptance of the intellectual climate common to our own age and the assumption that whatever has gone out of date is on that account discredited. You must find why it went out of date. Was it ever refuted (and if so by whom, where, and how conclusively) or did it merely die away as fashions do? If the latter, this tells us nothing about its truth or falsehood. From seeing this, one passes to the realization that our own age is also “a period,” and certainly has, like all periods, its own characteristic illusions. They are likeliest to lurk in those widespread assumptions which are so ingrained in the age that no one dares to attack or feels it necessary to defend them.” – C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy

    **The fallacy may take two forms: overestimating the new and modern, prematurely and without investigation assuming it to be best-case, or underestimating status quo, prematurely and without investigation assuming it to be worst-case.

    • “From seeing this, one passes to the realization that our own age is also “a period,” and certainly has, like all periods, its own characteristic illusions. They are likeliest to lurk in those widespread assumptions which are so ingrained in the age that no one dares to attack or feels it necessary to defend them.” – C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy

      For those who watched Stargate Atlantis, A pilot asked the main scientist (Rodney) how he felt that everything he knew would later be proven to be wrong. Right after that the craft had a mechanical failure and crashed and sank into the ocean and the pilot sacrificed himself to save the scientist.

      • Thanks Janice,

        I read many of his works years ago but Surprised by Joy touched me particularly and memorably. I’m very fond of him as a deep and sensitive thinker. Though I’m not religious per-se, I felt a kinship with him as he described and gave a name to a profound experience I’d also had at a similar age, that he termed “Sehnsucht”.

        He gave examples of what sparked this in him particularly:

        That unnameable something, desire for which pierces us like a rapier at the smell of bonfire, the sound of wild ducks flying overhead, the title of The Well at the World’s End, the opening lines of “Kubla Khan”, the morning cobwebs in late summer, or the noise of falling waves.

        ;-)

      • To Scott:

        Yes, indeed, Scott. C. S. Lewis combined an exquisitely sharp logical mind with impeccable writing ability. He is my favorite author for style (often, for content, too).

        So. You didn’t reason your way to faith, as Lewis did, eh? (smile) Well, that’s an uncommon means. There is still hope though, for, I am going to pray for you — now, you will have the relentless (because He is pursuing one He loves deeply — well, you wouldn’t die for someone you didn’t love, would you??) “Hound of Heaven” on your tail.

        Speaking of tail, that reminded me of a video of a dog rescue (on youtube) from a deep, wide, big-city drainage channel, raging with floodwaters, by a man dangling from a helicopter. That poor, frightened, animal did not understand and savagely bit and bit his rescuer. The rescuer did not let go. The dog was saved. I don’t know if you are a “rager and snarler,” (I have a feeling that you are not) but, just in case (I have met a handful in my life), I write to say: that won’t matter one bit (not one bite or byte or ….. this joke is not good pun, I mean fun, anymore, huh? lololo). He will keep on pursuing you.

        (If you respond, I plan not to reply — this is off topic and on a very touchy subject to many at WUWT, to boot. Please don’t think I did not read what you might write to me. Besides, Lewis’ books can say anything I might say to you and MUCH better (and more entertainingly, too).

        Janice

    • “I often find Nick Stokes’ apologetics for “Climate” orthodoxy annoying. His arguments often seem reasonable at first glance. However, his usual method is to subtly deride past science while explicitly bolstering the contemporary. Almost without exception he betrays a Chronological Snobbery* which is a form of Appeal to Novelty**, a logical fallacy:”

      I find this comment bizarre.
      There may be some truth to it if science started at square one every time something is researched.
      But it isn’t, science is built on itself, what went before, and logically techniques and understanding advance.

      • “But it isn’t, science is built on itself, what went before, and logically techniques and understanding advance.”

        Science is certainly built upon what came before, even when what came before is full of errors and this is exactly what happened to climate science. Unfortunately, many of these errors have been canonized since AR1 which makes them difficult to correct since correcting any one of them undermines the narrative set forth in the first IPCC reports used to justify their existence.

        Some of these canonized errors are:
        – assuming CO2 is the primary driver of the climate
        – assuming a feedback model containing an implicit, infinite capacity internal source of power
        – assuming the relationship between temperature and forcing is linear
        – arbitrarily conflating EM energy transported by photons with non EM energy transported by matter
        – failing to accommodate COE and the SB LAW in all places where they are relevant
        – relying on subjective modelling, rather than on objective data analysis
        – assuming complexity that really isn’t there
        – assuming GHG’s warm the atmosphere which warms the surface, rather than the other way around
        – assuming 1 W/m^2 from the Sun is equivalent to 1 W/m^2 of incremental absorption by the atmosphere
        – assuming that 1 W/m^2 of forcing can increase surface emissions by 4.3 W/m^2 or more

      • But it isn’t, science is built on itself, what went before, and logically techniques and understanding advance.

        – Toneb

        Precisely! Thank you for making my point more exactly. You can’t build anything if you have no foundation. If you have no credible “data”, you are in a rapidly collapsing loop of incredible data, that you’re just not aware of… yet!

  16. maybe you find the explenation of the changes in this NOAA article of 2013

    the general country wide index didn’t chage a lot, but it can give larger state to state swings and give larger swings in divisional data sets when used in the PDSI.

    so the solving of the bug in the PMDI calculation made little change to the general land wide index but gave some pretty big regional swings in the PDSI index.

    so the reason for this adjustment is pretty well explained imho….

    • forgot to add in the table at the bottom of the article you find the table where the most extreme swings are given. there you find for the most extreme regional range of change in the PDSI -8.80 to 8.49

    • Your link returns a “401” type error.

      “NCEI is temporarily unavailable
      The National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) website is temporarily unavailable. We apologize for this inconvenience.”

    • Well, that sure did it.
      Someone published a link to the NCEI and drought web site.

      More than three people tried to visit and NOAA’s row of ducks trashed. The whole façade crashed.

    • We need Dr, Who to time travel in the Tardis to undo all the changes being made by the Master who is an evil Time Lord!

      It is most distressing this ‘fix the past to improve the present’ games which is straight out of 1984 and Big Brother.

  17. All of this is only relevant to right now….

    …and we will never know what right now is since they keep changing it in the future

    It was X wetter/dryer as compared to right now…..sometime in the future “right now” is going to change

  18. Michael Hove: Thank you for sharing all that work you did! A fine presentation of evidence, evidence which most definitely has shifted the burden of proof (and production, too) to –> NOAA.

    And, given that NOAA’s past “bad acts” had to do with deceit, their past data fraud can come in as evidence! Ha!

  19. It is a complicated enough procedure that the NOAA should provide a detailed description of the method, but I have not found it on their site. See, for example, an excerpt from

    http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/full/10.1175/1520-0442(2004)017%3C2335%3AASPDSI%3E2.0.CO%3B2

    that describes the Palmer method:

    “Each month of every year, four values related to the soil moisture are computed along with their complementary potential values. These eight values are evapotranspiration (ET), recharge (R), runoff (RO), loss (L), potential evapotranspiration (PE), potential recharge (PR), potential runoff (PRO), and potential loss (PL). The potential evapotranspiration is estimated using Thornthwaite’s method (Thornthwaite 1948). The calculation of these values depends heavily on the available water holding capacity (AWC) of the soil. The PDSI itself depends on a two-stage “bucket” model of the soil. The top layer of soil is assumed to hold one inch of moisture. The amount of moisture that can be held by the rest of the underlying soil is a location-dependent value, which must be provided as an input parameter to the program.”

    There seems to be a lot of room for ‘tweaks’ here (that is the charitable term).

  20. “Is NOAA adjusting data to make [fill in the problem du jour] look worse than they are?”

    Yes. Next question?

  21. What this really means is there is no actual data in use, except by chance. If science constantly changes methods and tries to adjust the daylights out of all the other data, then we are dealing with fictitious data. You can say we’re adjusting to match a new standard, but in reality, if you want real data, you don’t change methods and pretend you can alter past data to work with the change. There is no science in this—just data manipulation to try and correct for changes that never should have been made if you want a continuous record. Until we have 50 years of untouched, continous data from identical instruments, all we will have is a fantasy. (Yes, I know there will always be some adjustments, but they should be very minimal. It seems no one understands precision, calibration, continuity, etc. They just rearrange values and declare victory. I just don’t see any science in any of this. Imagine if nuclear science were this laissez-faire.)

  22. Some “just FYI” info.:

    Facts: The ‘record-setting droughts in the 2000’s were not really records at all. The only year of any substantial drought was 2012 and, according to the NCDC, it ranked only number 6 in the past century. The others were:

    Year % of US in drought

    1934 79.9%

    1939 62.1

    1954 60.4

    1956 57.6

    1931 54.9

    2012 54.6

    (NCDC)

    The droughts of the 1930’s and 1950’s were stronger than those of the 2000’s according to the Palmer Drought Severity Index.

    https://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/clip_image034.jpg

    (Source: https://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/05/13/checking-the-nca-report-against-real-data-reveals-major-discrepancies/ )

      • i got a good big computerscreen and they are labeled as followed: 1895 -> 2010. each step is a 5 year interval thus 1895, 1900, 1905,… till 2010 on the horizontal axis, on the vertical axis the PDSI is labeled from -7 to 0 at the bottom of the zero line and from 0 to +6.at the top of it

        hope that helps our readers with smaller screens a bit

  23. How insidious NOAA is, huh? Acknowledges a bug in a single line of code when pointed to by some authors. Fixes the bug. Prominently announces the fix long in advance of using the fix. When asked by a random member of the public, within hours responds with all that info.

    Yet WUWT publishes conspiratorial accusations without even a link to the NOAA site, not bothering to spend any time at all looking for an explanation, nor even asking NOAA via the obvious means of asking that is provided by NOAA.

    • Is NOAA Adjusting Data to Make Droughts Worse … ?

      That was a question, Mr. Dayton, not an accusation.

      … I welcome any thoughts regarding the trends shown between the “Old Historic” and New Historic” data.

      The final line of the article, and still, no “conspiratorial accusation” in sight.

      Given the context of NOAA’s past behavior

      (See, e.g., https://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/06/04/noaancdcs-new-pause-buster-paper-a-laughable-attempt-to-create-warming-by-adjusting-past-data/ ; and https://wattsupwiththat.com/2016/03/02/the-karlization-of-global-temperature-continues-this-time-rss-makes-a-massive-upwards-adjustment/ ), {in case you had not heard, the U.S. Congress is aggressively investigating and has found solid evidence of NOAA wrongdoing}

      to be skeptical about NOAA is

      the only rational response to what the observations and analysis of the above article revealed.

      Anything else is:

      1. a non-rational, i.e., emotional, response;
      OR
      2. a rational, dishonest, attempt to defend a known data fr@udster.

      So, which is it, Mr. Dayton? Are you just so blindly loyal to NOAA that you are not thinking straight, here? Or are you intentionally defending known fr@udster NOAA for your own purposes (perhaps, you are a wind power or solar industry “investor” and your money is at stake, thus, you are rational, but dishonest)?

      Oh, you went FAR beyond merely saying, “Let’s wait and see what NOAA has to say about this… .”**

      **What NOAA says has not, as of yet, been revealed, here. A “bug in a single line of code” would most definitely NOT be considered a “responsive” witness answer in a trial/deposition setting. Far more detail is necessary.

      Conclusion: We still do not know. More reading/reporting of what NOAA said in the articles/linked pages sent to Mr. Eschenbach must happen before any conclusions can be drawn about the appropriateness of NOAA’s drought Palmer-data adjustments.

  24. Janice Moore
    September 29, 2016 at 9:31 am

    “Facts: The ‘record-setting droughts in the 2000’s were not really records at all. …”

    I’m not the only one who has recognizes that we live in an age of amorality and a major outcome of this is that ends justify means, things can be whatever we want them to be, lying and obfuscation are legitimate tools to defend something that serves a group (or individual) purpose. These things are what give a stubborn longevity to notions that in an earlier age would have been considered too obviously purposely manufactured to give a thought about.

    I can still be surprised despite decades of awareness of this phenomenon. A case in point: the hacking of the DNC emails revealed the most egregious bias in the party against Bernie Sanders (whom, I’m personally glad was defeated – scary to think communism has come that close to becoming respectable in America). But what was all the news about? Instead of being shocked at the content of the emails, the establishment were in a smokescreen fury about Russia hacking into American political stuff. There was no evidence it was Russia at all, but linking to Donald Trump’s sarcastic remarks about hoping Russia would find Hillary’s deleted emails, it evolved into acceptance that it had been Russia, and now the establishment Pols are “sure” it was Russia. What was in the emails soon disappeared as a cause for outrage. Alinski’s Rules have been well studied by the elites running the show.

    http://www.bestofbeck.com/wp/activism/saul-alinskys-12-rules-for-radicals

    Read them, they will look very familiar to you in today’s world.

  25. “I trust this clears things up.”

    Not it doesn’t. it does not explain what has temperature to do with drought when it rains.

    • maybe that the fallen rain evaporates more quickly when it is 90°F then when it is 40°F once the rain stops?

  26. Why aren’t any of the establishment apologists addressing the point made by EM Smith that the highly opaque Palmer drought index is capable of classifying a location as experiencing simultaneously drought and flood:

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2016/09/29/is-noaa-adjusting-data-to-make-droughts-look-worse-than-they-are/#comment-2309444

    As always with the warmist activists who are custodians of climate data, the devil is in the detail. The Palmer index allows higher temperatures to change the precipitation level for drought. And the data manipulation in pushing up current temperatures has been so enthusiastically executed by the current generation of millenial climate taleban footsoldiers that the inflated temperatures put California into virtually permanent drought whatever the precipitation.

    The thing about lots of people lying about the same thing is that it becomes necessary to coordinate the lies so that they seem consistent. NASA climate data is well into Fawlty Towers territory in terms of management of a manipulated story.

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