NIWA’s obfuscation unequivocal — it’s worse than we thought

NIWA have published misleading material on their web site and seem to have advised the Minister for Climate Change Issues to give evasive answers to questions in the Parliament.

For those unfamiliar with the story: NIWA keeps raw data for the national NZ temperature record and makes it available on their web site. The Climate Conversation Group and the NZ Climate Science Coalition conducted a joint study of the temperature record, researched by a science team and published on 25 November under the title Are we feeling warmer yet?.

But we’re only asking about the weather

That study demonstrated that the official graph does not represent the raw temperature data. NIWA told us that adjustments have been applied so we’ve asked for the details. So far they obfuscate. We don’t know why they refuse to disclose what the weather has been.

We conclude that NIWA’s response to our enquiries has been defensive, obstructive and oddly disparaging.

The Hon Rodney Hide became concerned about deteriorating standards in public science and asked in the Parliament whether the Hon Dr Nick Smith would require NIWA to release the full data for the official NZ temperature record. On the last possible day for answering, Nick finally replied: “You must ask Wayne Mapp; he’s the responsible minister (for Research, Science and Technology, the portfolio that covers NIWA).” We won’t get any Parliamentary questions answered now until well into the New Year, so Nick Smith has caused a considerable delay in getting this information to the public.

Gratuitously, he added: “I would note however that the NZCSC have had this information since 2003.” He hoped that little factoid would hurt the Coalition’s reputation, but it won’t, although it might hurt his own — because the Coalition didn’t exist until 2006.

See the email, they said, but they deceive us

NIWA say that the Coalition have had all the information needed to reproduce the official graph since 19 July, 2006, when, they say, “NIWA advised NZ Climate Science Coalition member Dr Vincent Gray” of the need for adjustments and gave him a couple of examples. Dr Gray has located an email of that date and we can now reveal that it was from Dr Jim Salinger, not NIWA, it was not addressed to the Coalition and did not mention the Coalition.

It was sent just a few weeks after the Coalition was created, before they ever discussed the national temperature record. Dr Gray tells us that and other emails before and since were not official communications on either side — they were letters between two scientists who had known each other for years.

But most significantly the email does not give details of the adjustments made to the temperatures, nor does it give the information required to derive the adjustments. Dr Salinger just discusses the changes in a general way and gives a few examples and that’s all. NIWA’s assertion that that email contains the requested information is not supported by reading the email. Continue Reading →