Warmest October Claim Was Wrong, NASA Admits

Published January 1, 2009

NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies—known as GISS—was forced to admit it committed an egregious error when it publicly claimed October 2008 was the warmest October in history.

It turns out October 2008 was nowhere near a record. Global temperature measurements of the Earth’s lower atmosphere by NASA satellite instruments show it was fairly typical compared to temperatures over the past 30 years and significantly cooler than average temperatures over the past seven years.

The top figure on page 10, provided by meteorologist Anthony Watts, shows the correct temperature for October 2008.

GISS Under Fire

Many climate scientists have criticized GISS in recent years for routinely claiming significantly higher global temperatures than those reported by other scientists; for employing a staff that appears to see its role more as advocates than as scientists; for getting caught claiming recent years were warmer than the data indicated; and for failing to provide transparency in how they manipulate raw temperature data before presenting their adjusted “official” temperature reports.

After GISS generated substantial media attention with its claim October 2008 was the warmest October in history, a number of global warming “skeptics” smelled something fishy and examined the data themselves. They soon discovered NASA and its partners at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had copied the September 2008 temperature data from Russia into the October Russian temperature dataset.

Assuming the error was innocent, scientists wondered why GISS hadn’t double-checked its data when it published an October global temperature chart that appeared quite ordinary except for an astonishing warm-temperature anomaly over Russia.

Prominent skeptics, including statistician Steve McIntyre, report their previous requests to be allowed to examine GISS’s raw temperature data and temperature adjustment models were frequently answered by rude and uncooperative responses. It was these same skeptics, reproducing the data and temperature charts on their own, who discovered the error.

Alarmists Fight Transparency

GISS’s overstatement of October warmth was reminiscent of another GISS scandal.

In late 2007 McIntyre discovered GISS had been systematically reporting overly warm U.S. temperatures. McIntyre caused a sensation in late 2007 when he proved NASA had been unjustifiably adding a significant 0.l5º Celsius to its U.S. temperature reports since the year 2000.

As a result of McIntyre’s research, scientists discovered 2006 was not the warmest year in U.S. history, as GISS had very publicly claimed. In fact, 1934 was the warmest year, and 2006 fell to a distant fourth. Only four of the top 11 warmest years have occurred since 1954, according to the corrected data.

Since McIntyre discovered GISS’s error and similar statistical errors in prominent global warming alarmist Michael Mann’s famous 1998 “hockey stick” graph purporting to show more rapid global warming than has in fact occurred, GISS scientists and their allies who claim humans are causing a global warming crisis have been remarkably unwilling to share their data with McIntyre. GISS climate modeler Gavin Schmidt refuses even to acknowledge McIntyre by name.

More GISS Monkey Business

In addition to its current data problems, meteorologist Art Horn reports GISS has recently been retroactively adjusting temperature data gathered years and even decades ago, to give the impression current temperatures are rising faster than they are.

“Recently I was looking at some graphical temperature data from NASA,” Horn wrote on meteorologist Joseph D’Aleo’s ICECAP blog. “I was able to find a graph of United States temperature from 1880 up to 1999. I then went to the NASA GISS site and found the most recent plot of this data. I wanted to compare the two and see if there had been any changes in the trends. …

“Well, it was quite an eye opener!” Horn wrote. “Going back and forth between the images there is [in GISS’s new temperature reports, compared with prior GISS temperature reports] a clear cooling [in] the temperatures before 1970 and a clear warming of the temperatures after 1970. It is unmistakable and quite remarkable.

“We all know that [GISS Director] Dr. James Hansen is one of the world’s most visible global warming alarmists,” Horn added. “He is also caretaker of the NASA GISS data. It would appear that he is not happy with the trend of temperature in the United States. It would also appear that he is doing something about it. By adjusting temperatures in the past downward and adjusting more recent temperatures upward we get an amplification (or at least the appearance of one) of the rise in temperature between the late 1970s and the late 1990s.”

McIntyre reports that after GISS was forced to lower its October 2008 temperature data regarding Russia, it mysteriously and retroactively raised the temperatures that reportedly occurred in October 2008 in other parts of the world.

For example, while GISS’s initial global temperature chart shows the astonishing (and false) warming anomaly over Russia (seen in crimson in the middle graph) and not much warming over northern Canada, GISS’s subsequent chart with the corrected Russian data now shows a mysterious retroactive warming over northern Canada.

“All of a sudden, a ‘hot spot’ has developed over the Canadian Arctic Islands and the Arctic Ocean north of North America, that wasn’t there on Monday (it was gray on Monday),” McIntyre reported on November 12, just after GISS corrected its overly warm Russian data. “A smaller hot spot also developed over Australia.”

Hansen has publicly called for Nuremburg-style “high crimes against humanity” trials against people who dispute his alarmist global warming claims.

James M. Taylor ([email protected]) is a senior fellow of The Heartland Institute and managing editor of Environment & Climate News.

For more information …

Meteorologist Joseph D’Aleo’s ICECAP blog: http://www.icecap.us/index.php/go/joes-blog

Statistician Steve McIntyre’s Climate Audit blog: http://www.climateaudit.org/

Meteorologist Anthony Watts’ Watts Up With That? blog: http://wattsupwiththat.com/