Guest essay by Eric Worrall
h/t Dr. Willie Soon – NASA GISS head Gavin Schmidt has voiced his support for EPA director Scott Pruitt’s call for more climate research transparency, though Schmidt is concerned that providing enough data and method to ensure reproducibility will distract scientists from research.
Climate scientists call for more transparency in their field
Scott Waldman, E&E News reporter
Published: Thursday, May 10, 2018
Making data available is part of publishing in the modern era, and there needs to be better methods for verifying the results of a study are statistically valid, said Rich Loft, director of the technology development division at the National Center for Atmospheric Research.
“In the age of big data, journal publications which would have been suitable a hundred years ago [are] not suitable anymore because it’s not actually enough information to reproduce the thing, so somehow we have to extend our definition of peer-reviewed into these analyses,” he said.
One of the challenges faced by researchers trying to make their work more transparent is the complexity of dealing with a vast amount of data, said Gavin Schmidt, director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies at NASA. In addition to storing the data, researchers must make the coding used to synthesize it available, he said. In the science community, reproducibility often consumes a lot of time that doesn’t always have a clear benefit to the individual researcher, other than altruism, he said.
“Reproducibility is not free, it has a cost to the community because if you’re always spending time reproducing scenarios, experiments that other people have suggested are interesting, then you’re not exporting something that you thought was interesting,” he said. “So there is a cost to the community, but the benefit is of course understanding how robust particular results are.”
Some critics have pointed out that Gavin Schmidt’s friend and colleague Michael Mann never disclosed full details of how he produced his iconic climate hockey stick.
The ridiculous defence of data obscurity we’ve seen since EPA director Scott Pruitt announced his open science initiative was never going to last, but its good to see how rapidly some members of the climate community are coming to accept that they have to start providing full method and data to back their research results.
The following is a video of EPA Director Scott Pruitt announcing the end of “secret science”.