Can We Trust the Temperature Record?

by William Yeatman on September 24, 2009

in Blog

Patrick Michaels today has a thought-provoking piece on NRO about the reliability of the temperature record. According to Michaels,

In the early 1980s, with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, scientists at the United Kingdom’s University of East Anglia established the Climate Research Unit (CRU) to produce the world’s first comprehensive history of surface temperature. It’s known in the trade as the “Jones and Wigley” record for its authors, Phil Jones and Tom Wigley, and it served as the primary reference standard for the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) until 2007. It was this record that prompted the IPCC to claim a “discernible human influence on global climate…

…Jones and Wigley, however, weren’t specific about what was done to which station in order to produce their record, which, according to the IPCC, showed a warming of 0.6° +/- 0.2°C in the 20th century.

Now begins the fun. Warwick Hughes, an Australian scientist, wondered where that “+/-” came from, so he politely wrote Phil Jones in early 2005, asking for the original data. Jones’s response to a fellow scientist attempting to replicate his work was, “We have 25 years or so invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?

It doesn’t take a scientist to recognize that this last statement makes a mockery of the scientific method. After all, the entire point of peer review is to find something wrong with a scientist’s research, so as not to propagate inaccurate conclusions in academic journals. All of which begs the question: What is there to hide?  Stay tuned. Steve McIntyre, who exposed the fraudulent “hockey stick” temperature history, is working on the CRU issue.

On a related note, my colleague Marlo Lewis blogged on the inadequacy of the U.S. surface temperature record in this excellent post.

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