NIWA — show us the peer review!

What are you hiding?

a nice lake

NIWA’s temperatures unscientific, had to be ‘reconstructed’

The NZ Climate Science Coalition, with the assistance of the Climate Conversation Group (CCG), published the report Are we feeling warmer yet? in November, 2009.

It revealed that the official NZ temperature record compiled by the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research Ltd (NIWA) owes all of its warming trend to adjustments made to the actual thermometer readings. So, naturally, we asked NIWA what those adjustments were and why they were made.

We were surprised to encounter a ferocious denial of wrongdoing and a trenchant resistance to answering our questions. To be fair, we had insinuated that NIWA scientists might have manipulated the figures.

Warmists even mislead Parliament — does anyone care?

Anyway, NIWA persisted in ill-advised attempts to persuade the Coalition that our questions had already been answered in the scientific literature. But after considerable pressure in the media and after the ACT Party raised numerous questions in the Parliament, NIWA undertook early in 2010 to “reconstruct” the New Zealand temperature record.

That was a tacit agreement by NIWA that our reservations about the scientific validity of the official New Zealand temperature record were well founded. In other words, NIWA effectively admitted that they could not validate the record as it then stood. Because if they could have validated it, they would not have spent good (taxpayers’) money on reconstructing it.

This was a victory for an unwavering scientific scepticism in the face of determined bullying from members of a warmist establishment, prepared to resort even to misleading the Parliament.

NIWA’s review was eventually published on December 15, 2010, entitled “Report on the Review of NIWA’s “Seven-Station” Temperature Series, December 2010” (Review Report).

The Review Report had been peer-reviewed by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BoM). That peer review evidently caused NIWA to adjust, in undisclosed ways, the original Review Report.

Informal report

The NIWA review is not presented as a proper scientific report, it is quite informal: the pages are unnumbered, the author or authors are unnamed, the very date of the report is buried on a page near the end and the Table of Contents is rudimentary. The document ignores basic presentation standards expected of ordinary office reports.

That it was published by our premier environmental organisation after an international review process is embarrassing.

One of our harshest critics, one Ken Perrott, has hectored us about the authorship of our November, 2009, report, Are we feeling warmer yet?, collated by yours truly. So I guess he would have been upset to see that NIWA’s review is unsigned; as it’s now April, I expect he has already demanded of NIWA the names of the anonymous “scientists” who wrote it and insisted on knowing the reasons for their anonymity, because, he claimed, it is “contrary to normal scientific practice.” And naturally he will want to be even-handed in his treatment of both NIWA and the CCG. Won’t you, Ken?

Inconsistency in dates

If you can find the report’s publication date you’re doing well, although a general “December 2010” is mentioned on the cover. There are 169 pages in NIWA’s Review Report. At the bottom of page 164 (according to the Acrobat Reader, since pages are unnumbered) one finds:

Date: Document originally created 29 October 2010, and revised 13 December 2010 following review from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

This disclosure hints at a serious deficiency in both the report and the peer review, because the dates just don’t make sense. Let me explain.

It appears the BoM took about six weeks to perform their review, with their letter to NIWA dated 14 December. NIWA subsequently finished a revision of their report on 13 December. Note the report was revised “following review” by the BoM, so NIWA could not have finished their Review Report before the BoM reported back to them on 14 December.

Is this the real peer-review document?

The peer-review document appears to be the letter from the BoM dated 14 December. The report was revised “following review” by the BoM, yet NIWA finished their review on 13 December — how could they complete the revision the day before the letter was written? There’s no indication of how long NIWA took to do the revision — it may have been days, but was surely at least one day.

So the date on the BoM’s letter is wrong, because it’s incredible that it was sent on December 14 — that would mean that NIWA completed their ‘subsequent’ review the day before it was sent!

The truth is that the letter must have been sent by the BoM AT LEAST two days earlier — and probably even earlier than that, because, after reading it, NIWA must have needed at least a few days to adjust their report.

The review document cannot be the simple letter dated December 14, AFTER THE REVISION WAS COMPLETED. Or, WHY IS THE LETTER POST-DATED?

We must also ask what prompted NIWA’s revision, if it wasn’t this little one-page letter?

If, as seems likely, there is a completely separate review document from the BoM, WHY HAS IT NOT BEEN PUBLISHED?

Where is the review from the BoM?

Perhaps NIWA and/or the BoM has simply mistaken dates which any secretary could keep straight.

Or dates have been falsified. But why? And what other basic errors or deceptions might have occurred?

Certainly, we’re being kept in the dark. What do the original documents actually say?

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natwitWarwick HughesAustralisRichard TreadgoldHarry Dale Huffman Recent comment authors
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Alexander K
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Alexander K

Nice to see your keyboard again, Richard.
Why should NIWA be any different from its sister organisations elsewhere?
Northern Hemisphere sceptical blogs such as Bishop Hill, WUWT, Climate Audit, etc, are busy disseminating information about the conflicts of interest, cupidity, mendacity and general bentness of some of the members of the recent parodies that passed as enquiries into Climategate and the ongoing refusal of the UEA and its CRU to cough up tree-ring data in response to formal FOI requests from Steve M.
Stories about the cosy funding arrangements major Green ‘environmental. groups have with various governments and the BBC are also emerging as a major part of the overall picture on the same blogs and even tiny parts of the usually toe-curlingly sycophantic MSM.
Intersting stuff going down!

Harry Dale Huffman
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At the root of the monstrous problem of a fraudulent climate hysteria is incompetence, among all physical scientists who have looked into the supposed climate consensus, and simply accepted its theories and methods. A whole generation of physicists has been miseducated on the greenhouse effect, or that false consensus would never have been allowed to be proclaimed by incompetents like James Hansen, who (as I have shown on my blog) should have realized almost 20 years ago, based on detailed atmospheric data taken from Venus that long ago, that there is no greenhouse effect whatsoever, much less a runaway one). But the incompetent scientists are protected by the favored status of their “consensus” among the governments of the world, as well as the media. All of our scientific institutions — all the supposed “authorities” — have been suborned to that incompetence. So the people of every country first need to revolt against the “climate policy” plans of their respective governments, and remove their protection of the incompetent scientists, before we can get to the real task of throwing out the incompetent fraudsters, and re-educating the entire scientific community, and all of those who… Read more »

Richard Treadgold
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Nice to see your keyboard again, Richard.

Thanks, Alexander. For those who don’t keep up with those leading blogs as often as they want to (me included), you give a good summary.

Australis
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Australis

The document signed by BoM and dated 14 December 2010 is merely a “letter of support”, saying that at least one BoM scientist has read NIWA’s Review Report and found nothing wrong with it. This letter doesn’t pretend to be a “review” itself.

The review itself obviously took place during the six weeks between the date of the early draft and the date of the final version. It might have been an iterative process, whereby the BoM person suggested various changes and the NIWA author debated the points – until final compromises were reached. These reports and exchanges should be in the public domain.

We should be clear that BoM’s review was not an independent “peer review” in the sense that term is usually used by scientists. It wasn’t done at arms length. BoM’s role was that of a paid consultant.

Warwick Hughes
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Excellent point in your last para Australis – but do we know what NIWA paid the BoM ?

Richard Treadgold
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No. It’s one of the things I’m hoping to learn from our Official Information Request to NIWA for material relating to the BoM’s peer review. The Ombudsman’s office has just begun their inquiry into NIWA’s refusal to disclose that information to me. Watch this space, but please don’t hold your breath!

natwit
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natwit

Hiding something? NIWA should get friendly and share their information with anyone who requests it! Good luck Richard with the official info. request. I shall watch the space and, yeah, I won’t hold my breath.
29 July 2011 [natwit: Sorry for the delay, your comment got stuck in the queue. Thanks for your support, Yes, please keep breathing, there could be a substantial wait. – RT]

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