NIWA disowns Salinger thesis

An old book

Yes, the title is correct: I can now reveal that NIWA have actually disowned the famous Salinger thesis, which describes a method of adjusting a time series of temperature readings when they become no longer homogeneous. Despite their repeated citing of the 30-year-old student paper, they don’t actually regard it as important. This has become clear after several months of diligent research by members of the NZ Climate Science Coalition.

But first, we’ve discovered the true nature of the “public” access that NIWA claims for the thesis. And not is all as it seems.

Thesis available, but only in Wellington

ACT MP John Boscawen asked a question in the Parliament of the Minister of Research, Science and Technology, Dr Wayne Mapp:

Can the minister confirm that Dr Salinger’s PhD thesis is still “publicly available”? If so, where, and how may it be obtained?

A simple question, you might think, and so it is. Listen to the answer from Dr Mapp.

I am advised that Dr Salinger’s PhD thesis is publicly available through the Victoria University Library. This thesis is in the Closed Reserve Collection at VUW Library. It can be accessed by the public.

(Note that VUW means Victoria University of Wellington.) Though I don’t like the sound of the “Closed Reserve Collection”, it’s good news that he says the thesis is available to the general public. But listen to the conditions:

To view the thesis, members of the public can visit the Closed Reserve Desk between 8am and 5pm Monday to Friday. On production of an ID, they can be issued a temporary visitors card and can check out the thesis for up to six hours. The thesis must be kept within the library.

So you have to go to Wellington, you have to read and absorb hundreds of technical pages in only six hours and you can only copy a little bit of it. Presumably you get another six hours each day you stay in Wellington. It could cost a lot of money unless you have relatives in Wellington.

We advise you to put plenty of time aside: a couple of Coalition scientists have been studying the thesis for weeks and they are still uncertain what it means.

Trying for the truffle “farmer”

Still, Mapp’s answer confirms what NIWA said in February, in answer to a Coalition request under the Official Information Act for records relating to the Schedule of Adjustments. They referred us to several “public” documents, including Salinger’s thesis.

It was rather trying for Gareth Renowden, truffle “farmer” and part-time warmist at Hot Topic, to listen to our requests for confirmation of NIWA’s national temperature series. Back in February he became offended and quite agitated. NIWA’s word was enough for him so on their behalf he waded loyally into the Coalition and me for having the temerity to doubt the upstanding NIWA, saying:

This is what happens in real science: knowledge exists in the literature.

Well, yes, Gareth, but this crucial climate knowledge, sadly, does not exist on the bookshelves of the country’s premier climate organisation. Why ever not?

Renowden overlooked the obvious: the OIA request was intended to gain copies of documents in NIWA’s possession. They gave us nothing, which proves they have no copy of the adjustments, either the details or in total, or the reasons for those adjustments, or any consultation, negotiation or decision internally or externally regarding those adjustments. For giving us nothing could mean nothing else.

Why do they have no record of the scientific justification for the most important set of national climate figures they advertise, nor any decision concerning them? It is strange. But Renowden pressed on confidently, saying where we could find them:

In fact, a lot of it is in Jim Salinger’s PhD thesis, a copy of which has been in the VUW library since 1981. Appendix C covers the details, I’m told. I could order it through my local library, if I really wanted to check the details.

Renowden’s trusting innocence brings a tear to my eye. How could the Coalition and I be so callous, so coldly logical, asking the harsh questions we did, expecting NIWA to justify itself? How will he cope when he discovers how deeply NIWA has betrayed him? If Gareth makes good on his ignorant boast and tries actually to get the Salinger thesis at his local library, as NIWA assures him he can, he will discover what we knew already: wrong, he is.

Sucked in, he was.

NIWA lies again – no adjustments made for altitude changes

I must be blunt: when you examine Salinger’s thesis, all the adjustments made to the temperature readings in the seven-station series were made on the basis of comparison with neighbouring stations. Salinger’s thesis does not contain any adjustments for altitude changes.

This is astonishing. The country’s leading climate scientists lied openly about the adjustments contained in the thesis. I haven’t counted the number of times they said it in press releases, on their web site or on the radio, but they said on numerous occasions, and their supporters echoed, that adjustments on the basis of altitude were to be found in Salinger’s thesis.

But they are not there.

NIWA also asserted repeatedly, strongly, that the “adjustments” were in the “literature”? Why, then, didn’t NIWA copy them from the “literature”? They told us to do that (echoed faithfully by Gareth), so why did they themselves create new calculations? They didn’t take their own advice.

Because here is what Renowden said we could do, if only we listened to NIWA:

But even without that information, the CSC/CCG could take the raw data and the station histories and, using statistical techniques readily available in the literature construct their own long-term temperature series. That would be an independent replication of the method used by Jim Salinger and NIWA over the years.

The method may have been used by Salinger, but it was certainly not used by NIWA, for they have no documents containing the “methodologies” or anything about them, or they would have given us the documents, wouldn’t they? If they had used the method, some trace would be left in their records, don’t you think? In any case, if NIWA had used the method “over the years”, why could they not just replicate it in February instead of reconstructing the seven-station series? Why construct a whole new lot, using a different method to boot?

Salinger’s “method” was never published

These questions must be answered by NIWA, and there is also the awkward matter that our scientists found no way to replicate the “method” devised by Salinger. It is simply too subjective. You don’t use a calculator, you use professional judgement. But have you ever tried to guess what someone decided over 30 years ago? In any field, it’s impossible. Nobody can replicate Salinger’s adjustments, not even NIWA.

Here are more bombshells: not a single country has adopted Salinger’s methods of adjusting temperature records. Nor has Salinger ever published his methods in a recognised scientific journal, never mind having them peer reviewed. If his method had merit, he would have published straight away. If anyone else was interested in them, they would have insisted on it. Why didn’t he?

When Renowden says pompously: “This is what happens in real science: knowledge exists in the literature,” he is right, and he must acknowledge that, by the same token, what is not in the literature is not science. Salinger’s method is not in the literature. Why does Renowden claim it as science?

Of course, he doesn’t really matter; more importantly, why does NIWA claim Salinger’s methodology as science? They have no record of it, they don’t use it, their reconstruction disagrees with it, it has never been published and no other country uses it. Anyone can see why NIWA have disowned it. So why do they cite it?

The whole affair stinks.

There’s a stink of a cover-up, of lying and deception. Someone has a hidden agenda. It’s a disgrace. What the hell’s going on?

The government cannot seriously shoehorn the ETS onto the country on the basis of this shoddy bloody graph from these shoddy bloody scientists.

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3 Thoughts on “NIWA disowns Salinger thesis

  1. Australis on 06/04/2010 at 12:56 am said:

    But …. if the record is not, after all, based on the altitude thing that Dr Wratt was spelling out in such detail….. then what is it based on? It has to be the thesis. There isn’t anything else.

    Didn’t I see a report that NIWA had received $34 million in Government grants to study global warming? It couldn’t cost that much to photocopy a student thesis, so they must have spent it on something else. Maybe their studies gave rise to the data for the temperature record? Where do they actually say they got it from?

    • No, it’s not based on the altitude thing. They only say it’s based on the thesis. I’m writing a separate article about this now.

      They don’t actually say where they got it from, that’s the deceptive part. Their lawyer said to us: “The methodology is documented in the following publicly available sources.” You will note he does not say they “got it” from the sources. Then he cites

      · Salinger, M.J., 1981. New Zealand Climate: The instrumental record. Thesis
      submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the Victoria University of
      Wellington, January 1981;
      · Salinger, M.J., 1977. Dunedin temperatures since 1853. Proceedings of 9th New
      Zealand Geographical Society Conference, pp.106-109; and
      · Salinger, M.J., 1979. New Zealand temperatures since instrumental records began.
      Proceedings of 10th New Zealand Geographical Society Conference and 49th
      ANZAAS Conference, Auckland, pp.13-17.

      Then he said: “You asked about adjustments made to the seven station data series. Information regarding those adjustments is available from the following publicly available sources.” You will note he does not say “the adjustments are contained within” the sources. Then he cites

      · Salinger, M.J., 1981. New Zealand Climate: The instrumental record. Thesis
      submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the Victoria University of
      Wellington, January 1981;
      · Rhoades, D.A., and Salinger, M.J., 1993: Adjustment of temperature and rainfall
      measurements for site changes. International Journal of Climatology, 13, 899 –

      The thesis is mentioned twice. The thesis does not contain the adjustments. I don’t like to call our leading climate scientists “shoddy” but it made me quite upset to discover those leading scientists lied to the public.

      Other people would use far stronger language. I’m trying to remain fairly polite, because I foresee a time when the public of New Zealand have a warm and productive relationship with our leading climate scientists.

      I would like to help bring that about, hence I have a desire to avoid anything that might be likened to burning bridges.

      But they are trying our patience, right enough.

  2. Pingback: Climate Conversation Group » Impressively complex. Of course, we ignore it — NIWA

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