ClimateGate X: NOAA Says No to Anti-Science Committee’s War on Science

October 29, 2015

Watch closely. We’re all going to learn something.

Rep. Lamar Smith is Chairman of what has become the Anti-Science Committee in Congress. He’s unhappy that the most recent NOAA research has shown one of denier-dom’s most closely held fictions, the so-called “pause” in global surface temperature, is an illusion.  Rep. Smith has now accused the nation’s most respected and credible scientists of lying.

The standard congressional science denial pathway, laid down when “Smokey Joe” Barton first started an intimidation campaign on behalf of the tobacco industry, starts with “demand the data”.  Which is kind of lame, since, in this era of online science, Data, methods, and all relevant findings are available instantly online.


Ok, plan B is to issue a subpoena for “communications between or among employees” involved in the study.  Even the stupidest committee staffer knows there will be no “Yes comrades, we will now bring down the capitalist running dogs and their fossil fuels, and implement world government” quotes in the emails. What they are hoping for is to fish for quotes that can be lifted out of context, blown up in the right wing media, and create a new “Climategate” circus on the eve of the important climate negotiations that will begin in Paris in the coming month. Remember “Climategate”?   Almost nobody outside of the wonk community does – but it was a major media kerfuffle timed precisely to interfere with 2009’s climate negotiations in Copenhagen, which ultimately failed.

One powerful result of that fiasco was an awakened and galvanized science community has upped their communication game, started talking to media, and through media, and cultivating new channels for educating the public – so successfully, that subsequent attempts to whip up more email madness have landed with very dull thuds.

If you’ve been wondering what the ginned-up sideshow would be this time around, now we know.


The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has refused to comply with lawmakers’ attempts to subpoena internal communications relating to a recent climate-change study by its scientists.

The analysis, published in Science in June1, analyzed NOAA’s temperature records and found that global warming has continued apace in the early twenty-first century. The study contradicts previous findings — often cited by global-warming sceptics — suggesting that warming has slowed since the 1990s.

Representative Lamar Smith, the Texas Republican who leads the House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, asked NOAA in July for the data used in the study and for any internal communications related to it. NOAA has provided the committee with the publicly available data and has briefed committee staff on the research, but the agency has not turned over the communications.

Although NOAA’s latest response to the committee skirted the issue, the agency suggests in a 27 October statement to Nature that it has no intention of handing over documents that reveal its internal deliberations.

“Because the confidentiality of these communications among scientists is essential to frank discourse among scientists, those documents were not provided to the Committee,” the agency said. “It is a long-standing practice in the scientific community to protect the confidentiality of deliberative scientific discussions.”

In response to queries from Nature, Smith released a statement accusing NOAA of rigging its temperature records and stonewalling the House committee.

“NOAA needs to come clean about why they altered the data to get the results they needed to advance this administration’s extreme climate change agenda,” Smith said. “The Committee intends to use all tools at its disposal to undertake its Constitutionally-mandated oversight responsibilities.”


The study is the work of a team of scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) and LMI using the latest global surface temperature data.

“Adding in the last two years of global surface temperature data and other improvements in the quality of the observed record provide evidence that contradict the notion of a hiatus in recent global warming trends,” said Thomas R. Karl, LHD, Director, NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. “Our new analysis suggests that the apparent hiatus may have been largely the result of limitations in past datasets, and that the rate of warming over the first 15 years of this century has, in fact, been as fast or faster than that seen over the last half of the 20th century.”

The apparent observed slowing or decrease in the upward rate of global surface temperature warming has been nicknamed the “hiatus.” The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (link is external), released in stages between September 2013 and November 2014, concluded that the upward global surface temperature trend from 1998­­ to 2012 was markedly lower than the trend from 1951 to 2012.

Since the release of the IPCC report, NOAA scientists have made significant improvements in the calculation of trends and now use a global surface temperature record that includes the most recent two years of data, 2013 and 2014—the hottest year on record. The calculations also use improved versions of both sea surface temperature and land surface air temperature datasets. One of the most substantial improvements is a correction that accounts for the difference in data collected from buoys and ship-based data.

Prior to the mid-1970s, ships were the predominant way to measure sea surface temperatures, and since then buoys have been used in increasing numbers. Compared to ships, buoys provide measurements of significantly greater accuracy. “In regards to sea surface temperature, scientists have shown that across the board, data collected from buoys are cooler than ship-based data,” said Dr. Thomas C. Peterson, principal scientist at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information and one of the study’s authors. “In order to accurately compare ship measurements and buoy measurements over the long-term, they need to be compatible. Scientists have developed a method to correct the difference between ship and buoy measurements, and we are using this in our trend analysis.”

In addition, more detailed information has been obtained regarding each ship’s observation method. This information was also used to provide improved corrections for changes in the mix of observing methods.

New analyses with these data demonstrate that incomplete spatial coverage also led to underestimates of the true global temperature change previously reported in the 2013 IPCC report. The integration of dozens of datasets has improved spatial coverage over many areas, including the Arctic, where temperatures have been rapidly increasing in recent decades. For example, the release of the International Surface Temperature Initiative (link is external) databank, integrated with NOAA’s Global Historical Climatology Network–Daily dataset and 40 additional historical data sources, has more than doubled the number of weather stations available for analysis.

Lastly, the incorporation of additional years of data, 2013 and 2014, with 2014 being the warmest year on record, has had a notable impact on the temperature assessment. As stated by the IPCC, the “hiatus” period 1998–2012 is short and began with an unusually warm El Niño year. However, over the full period of record, from 1880 to present, the newly calculated warming trend is not substantially different than reported previously [0.68°C per century (new) versus 0.65°C per century (old]), reinforcing that the new corrections mainly have in impact in recent decades.

4 Responses to “ClimateGate X: NOAA Says No to Anti-Science Committee’s War on Science”

  1. earlosatrun Says:

    I’m sorry to contradict you, but I’m quite sure that there are a significant number of congressmen and their staffers, who would indeed believe that one, or more, of the scientists has said

    [“Yes comrades, we will now bring down the capitalist running dogs and their fossil fuels, and implement world government” ]

    They believe Fox is a real news service. Or at least, they want to be seen as believing them…

    You are quite right to point out that they are also looking for things to take out of context and use to slander and libel scientists and others.

  2. redskylite Says:

    Australia’s ex-PM Abbott was trying this boring idiotic ploy with the Australian Bureau of Meteorology before at long last he finally and deservedly got dumped and sent to the back benches.

    In the land of Bob Dylan politicians are still trying this boring, repetitive tactic, they are trying to bore us to death and lock the gullible into a wild delusion.

    Please kick them out and soon . . . .

    Lives depend on it . . . . . . . . .

  3. […] attempt to replicate the climategate model, with the US House Science Committee’s move to access personal email communications from government […]

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