Impressively complex. Of course, we ignore it — NIWA

A Stevenson screen in the snow

NIWA keep talking about various reasons to adjust the official New Zealand temperature readings. They say one must account for changes in location, exposure, urbanisation and instrumentation. For some reason they continually harp on about the altitude difference between Thorndon and Kelburn (Wellington).

But it is empty talk, because they have never made changes for those reasons. Are you listening? People of New Zealand: scientists from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), your country’s publicly-funded, premier environmental research organisation, have lied to you and continue to lie to you.

Their minister, the Minister of Research, Science and Technology, the Hon Dr Wayne Mapp, has admitted in the Parliament that no changes for altitude adjustments have been made to any weather station in the seven-station series. On 26 February, 2010, he said:

Station adjustments are not made on the basis of elevation differences, either for Wellington or for any of the other six locations.

However, just nine days earlier, Dr Mapp had said:

The reason [adjustments are] necessary is that in some cases the location of the stations has changed. For instance, the Wellington site has been moved from Thorndon to Kelburn, a difference in height of 125 metres. That requires an adjustment. All of the information to explain the methodology used to adjust the data is on the institute’s website. The original methodology to do so was developed in Dr Salinger’s PhD thesis, which is also publicly available.

That statement does not tell us that adjustments were never made on the basis of a height change, or that Salinger’s thesis does not describe how to make height-related adjustments and that it does not actually make such adjustments.

The statement intentionally misleads us.

By the way, they’ve since admitted the thesis is not “publicly available” at all, except in Wellington.

Master class in dissimulation

This confession from NIWA, that they made no changes for altitude, came at the end of February, but, oddly, they still say that such changes ought to be made. Do they imagine we’ve forgotten what they said? As recently as two weeks ago, on March 29, Dr Mapp said this:

This [the difference in altitude between Thorndon and Kelburn] provides an important reason for why it is necessary to adjust the Thorndon temperatures before joining them to the Kelburn time series.

That statement is, however, beset with caveats and complicated explanations of rubbish. Is NIWA beginning to realise that well-informed people are listening to their answers? Here are some of the qualifications Mapp surrounds his answer with to give the impression of science (remember that his last answer told us that adjustments are made because of altitude changes):

Yes I do consider the answers are consistent. I did mention changes in altitude as an illustration of the kinds of factors that need to be taken into account when creating a continuous temperature record from a site where the location has changed.

So his previous explanation has become merely an “illustration”. Then:

NIWA advise me that temperature decreases with altitude in the atmosphere (the “lapse rate effect”). For two sites very close horizontally but more than 120m altitude different in height, the higher site (Kelburn) would be expected to be colder than the lower one (Thorndon) … However, the lapse rate effect does not provide the exact magnitude of the adjustment needed.

He never says this or that adjustment was, actually, in the end, after all was said and done, in the real world, made. He uses weasel words that can be taken two ways. It’s all ambiguous. It’s a master class in dissimulation, for which I lay blame squarely at NIWA’s feet, not the minister’s.

It’s only the weather! Tell the truth!

There’s more obscuring detail in the statement, but let’s move on.

Coalition scientists have made an extensive study of Salinger’s thesis and Dr Brett Mullan’s recent paper dealing with the Hokitika temperature records.

The changes that Dr Salinger and Dr Mullan made were all on the basis of comparisons with neighbouring stations. No changes were made because of station changes. If vegetation grew up to shade or shelter the station, or roads and buildings developed, or the weather station itself was moved elsewhere (up or down, it doesn’t matter), no change was made for any of those events.

Yet NIWA continues to give the impression that altitude adjustments, for example, are done on the basis of accepted methodologies and somehow calculated because of the change in altitude. But this is demonstrably untrue. Instead, all the changes were made by a strange hocus-pocus that nobody describes clearly and none of the Coalition scientists can understand.

When they compare a station requiring adjustment with its neighbours, we note that any station in New Zealand is considered a neighbour. For example, they might compare Auckland with Hokitika. Some neighbours!

Why do they continue to mislead us? Why do they continue to mislead the Parliament and the public? What is their purpose?

It’s only the weather, for God’s sake! Why not tell the truth about the weather?

4 Thoughts on “Impressively complex. Of course, we ignore it — NIWA

  1. CEKAY on April 18, 2010 at 5:47 pm said:

    I’ve just discovered that all these Q&A about NIWA’s adjustments are on Parliament’s website (Questions by John Boscawen MP for written answer by the Minister of Research, Science and Technology).

    “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive”

    It seems that NIWA have no written record of ever having received or approved these adjustments. The Official New Zealand Temperature Record seems to have been written up by just one employee – who was later fired for refusing to obey instructions.

    Now this Record is the basis for the Climate Change advice being given by NIWA to all levels of the Government. Why hasn’t the mainstream media alerted us to this rort?

  2. Yes, Parliament’s web site is a good resource, and yours is a good question about the MSM — where are they?.

    I wonder what ordinary Kiwis make of NIWA’s insistence that a station’s readings should be adjusted when it changes altitude, but NIWA have admitted not making any adjustments for that reason. All they do is compare a “heterogeneous” station with neighbouring stations, such as comparing Auckland with Hokitika.

    They tell us to adjust the readings for an altitude change, but don’t do it themselves.

    It beggars imagination and it’s a disgrace. But what do people think about that?

  3. PaulsNZ on April 18, 2010 at 8:57 pm said:

    NIWA + Salinger = liar’s

  4. Mike J on April 19, 2010 at 9:01 pm said:

    Here’s an idea: If a station is moved, change its name and create a whole new data series. No adjustment necessary. Retain the raw data, as-is. If someone later wants to ‘stitch together’ the old data series to the new one then they are welcome to do so, together with providing transparency about how and why they did so.

    This is the only way to protect the integrity of our empirical temperature measurements. Raw data must be sacrosanct! If adjustments are made, they must be made forever and that is plain crazy. (imho)

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