NIWA versus NOAA


and the winner is… well, never mind: the loser is science

(Nobody’s won yet.) Now here’s more of the saga…

The ‘Seven-station Series’ (7SS) constructed by NIWA scientists claims a 20th-century warming trend for New Zealand of 0.9°C. The warming arises entirely from their in-house adjustments to the raw thermometer readings and they’re now very keen to find some corroboration for that warming.

Why are they so anxious to vindicate the 7SS? Because they’re finding it almost impossible to achieve. This conclusion of warming is an orphan — it contradicts all other official temperature records, going back decades. This post a month ago by Barry Brill sets out some of those records.

On NIWA’s website (and in its statement of defence in Court proceedings where the NZ Climate Science Coalition challenges the 7SS) NIWA relies upon two items of corroboration:

  1. The ‘Eleven-station Series’ (11SS), using unadjusted weather stations.
  2. The ‘Marine Measurements’, which is a 1995 Salinger paper on sea-surface temperatures and night-time marine air temperatures over the oceans around New Zealand, reported by passing ships.

We have previously exposed the conspicuous absence of the 11SS from NIWA’s recently published Review Report.

Equally conspicuous by its absence from the Review Report is the Marine Measurements. In all of the 169 pages, there’s not a word of it.

But don’t get the idea that NIWA has lost interest in corroboration. Hungry as NIWA is for justification, even they won’t persist too long with faulty evidence. On the contrary, their desperation has increased to the point that they devote two pages of the ‘Overview’ chapter trying to explain why Auckland warming trends are higher than Dunedin’s.

Now here is Figure 5 from page 10 of the Review Report, under the heading “Spatial patterns”, which shows NOAA temperature data for 1982-2009 (virtually 30 years) for the south-west region of the Pacific Ocean:


According to this graph, the ocean adjacent to Auckland, Lincoln and Dunedin (pale blue) showed no warming at all, while Hokitika, Nelson and Wellington (yellow) warmed by 0.2°C/decade.

What does that number mean? How can we put it into perspective?

Well, 0.2°C/decade would be 2.0°C/century, but that’s more than DOUBLE the warming Hokitika, Nelson and Wellington weather stations saw during THE WHOLE CENTURY!

On top of that, quite unbelievably, NIWA says that most of the warming over that 100 years occurred back in 1940-60, so the three decades covered by this graph were supposed to be a quiet period, with hardly any warming!

But wait, there’s more!

The king hit is Masterton. The graph says the ocean near the Wairarapa coast warmed at an average rate of 4.0°C/century over 30 years. That’s 4.5 times the warming seen at the Masterton weather station (see page 5 of the Review Report)!

The Salinger paper on Marine Measurements says temperature trends on land are always higher than those of the nearby sea surface — and this fits our intuition. But NOAA claims the sea surface was warmer by far than the land during this period.

So, instead of vindicating the same conclusion of warming as NIWA’s 7SS, these NOAA figures plunge it into the toilet. NIWA and NOAA, through their scientific endeavours, have intimate ties with the ocean on many levels. This dispute of their datasets confirms the 7SS in a very special relationship with the sea — at the very bottom. Sunk.

We begin to get the picture that the whole system of “homogenising” historical temperature records has gone haywire.

The two series rebut one another, meaning the credibility of both of them is undermined.

Undermined? Cripes, mate, it’s shot to hell! Name me a scientist who can pretend with a straight face that this is proper science.

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11 Thoughts on “NIWA versus NOAA

  1. Clarence on 11/04/2011 at 10:49 pm said:

    So, why did NIWA include this particular graph in their published report? I thought the whole purpose of their review was to shore up their battered credibility. You don’t do that by proudly producing evidence that your own argument is nonsense!

    I looked at the report to see what point NIWA were trying to make. They say (page 9) that there is a marked difference in their (adjusted) warming trends at Auckland and at Dunedin – “even allowing for some reduction in the Auckland trend due to urban heating or sheltering”.

    But they DIDN’T allow for some reduction in the Auckland curve. They left it at a ridiculously high figure which is not only more than twice the Dunedin trend, but is almost twice the average of ALL the other stations. Auckland stands out like a sore thumb! It cries out for explanation.

    So this graph is supposed to prove that the sea surface temperatures (SSTs) near Auckland heated up at a much faster rate than the SSTs near Dunedin. Does it do that?

    Well, no. Sure there’s an area of ocean out by the Chathams that has been cooling over the last 30 years. But that didn’t stop the Port Nicholson area from heating up at the rate of 2.0°/century. Are we supposed to believe that the dark blue patch threw some coldness over the top of the pale blue coastal area and hit the Musselburgh weather station?

  2. Australis on 11/04/2011 at 11:11 pm said:

    Clarence – I think it’s even more damaging to NIWA’s case than your point about what Figure 5 doesn’t prove. How about what it does prove?

    Because the sea is far more influential than the atmosphere in determining the trend of temperatures, the NOAA graphic can tell us what the relative warming trends must have been at various New Zealand coastal cities and towns.

    Of the seven stations in the 7SS, we can see that they rank in the following order: Masterton (highest trend), Wellington, Nelson, Hokitika, Lincoln, Dunedin, Auckland.

    But if we look at the trends favoured by NIWA (page 5) we find this ranking: Auckland (highest trend), Hokitika, Masterton, Wellington, Lincoln, Nelson, Dunedin.

    Not one of them is in the right place!

    But NIWA is certainly to be commended for their openness and candour in bringing this NOAA graphic to public attention.

  3. Robin Pittwood on 12/04/2011 at 8:26 am said:

    ” they devote two pages of the ‘Overview’ chapter trying to explain why Auckland warming trends are higher than Dunedin’s”
    Couldn’t that be largely due to UHI effect. Auckland growing more than Dunedin.

    • Bob D on 12/04/2011 at 10:45 am said:

      Absolutely. Most of the Auckland record is from Albert Park (1909-1976), a site with well-known problems caused by trees growing up and causing sheltering (Hessell 1980). On top of that there is the UHI issue to deal with as well. NIWA have alluded to these problems in their Review, and then simply ignored them.

  4. Doug Proctor on 12/04/2011 at 12:09 pm said:

    The end result of the review was that the new trend for temperatures in New Zealand looks …. just like the old trend of temperatures in New Zealand.

    Isn’t this the case? There is no change?

    • Australis on 12/04/2011 at 1:21 pm said:

      That’s right – exactly the same, to a hundredth of a degree.

      The Peterson Review is quoted in the “Bible” thread – “positive and negative homogeneity adjustments in individual station’s maximum and minimum temperature time series largely balance out”.

      So, it’s very unusual for adjustments to accumulate and create a long-term trend when none existed before.

      But NIWA achieved this unusual feat with the 7SS. And then achieved it again with the NZT7, using a completely different set of adjustments.

    • Doug Proctor on 13/04/2011 at 4:46 am said:

      This repeat performance confuses me. Like others, I have looked at the raw data and not seen the trends shown by the adjusted. The warming of NZ is the highest in the world, right?

      This seems to have demolished the NZ Science Coalition claims of absurd climate work by Salinger, but Salinger appears to have been vindicated 100% – perhaps by other means, but in essence completely vindicated. And by extension, the BOM review of Australian temperature history will probably result in exactly the same as before. The BEST re-review in the US? Doesn’t take much imagination to see a result identical to the GISTemp-to-date.

      So on the skeptical account, we are not winning here, it seems. No one is saying the Australian BOM conducted a fraudulent whitewash.

      So, are “we” wrong? Was our interpretation of the NZ temperature history out to lunch?

      The semi-silence is strange.

    • Australis on 14/04/2011 at 5:41 pm said:

      The adjustments in the new series are ENTIRELY different from ‘Salinger’s absurd climate work’ – see 7SS – R.I.P.

      So the NZCSC scientists are fully vindicated in their stance that NIWA got the adustments all wrong in the 7SS.

      Now the NZT7, using different methods and getting different results for the adjustments, finishes up with the exact same trend for the last 100 years – 0.91°C.

      This must mean one of two things: either “all roads lead to Rome” and the 0.91°C/century trend is correct; or the NZT7 has been manipulated to agree with the old 7SS.

      Although the graphic above is a side-issue, it does suggest NIWA scientists are not above manipulating data to fit their objectives.

  5. Sorry to post off-topic, but I have just posted an open letter to Brian Rudman at the New Zealand Herald. I have already left a link on the Herald opinion pages, and have contacted the newspaper to inform them of the open letter, and invited a response.

    The essence of the open letter is that he apologise for the unpleasant language used in discussing the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition e.g. describing them as ‘flat earthers’.

    I have posted the link to the open letter here, in case anyone here would like to contact the Herald to request a reply from Brian Rudman.

    Again, apologies for being off topic.


    Thanks for the support, Mark. Your site looks great. Good luck with it. I hope you keep up the energy. – Richard.

  6. Quentin F on 13/04/2011 at 9:21 pm said:

    All that graph shows is the temps resulting from PDO and ENSO which are driven TOTALLY but solar activity. NEXT.

  7. Jim McKinlay on 14/04/2011 at 5:14 pm said:

    Do we know how the picture was manufactured? We have all seen the pictures of the southern oscilation and how that changes dramatically over time.

    The simplest way to make such a picture would have been to take the start point and the end point and divide by 2.7 decades. If that was how it was done then picking another two dates 2.7 decades apart would clearly give a different result and it is a nonsense. If it was done differently I would like to know how they have backed out the natural cycle variations.

    Jim Mck

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