The Selective Bias Of NOAA’s National Climate Data Center (NCDC) With Respect To The Analysis And Interpretation Of Multi-Decadal Land Surface Temperature Trends Under The Leadership Of Tom Karl and Tom Peterson

I have posted on the science of our paper

Fall, S., A. Watts, J. Nielsen-Gammon, E. Jones, D. Niyogi, J. Christy, and R.A. Pielke Sr., 2011: Analysis of the impacts of station exposure on the U.S. Historical Climatology Network temperatures and temperature trends. J. Geophys. Res., in press. Copyright (2011) American Geophysical Union

in the post

A Summary Of Our New Paper “Analysis Of The Impacts Of Station Exposure On The U.S. Historical Climatology Network Temperatures and Temperature Trends” By Fall Et Al 2011

John Neilsen Gammon and Anthony Watts have excellent posts on our paper also; see, for example,

Something for Everyone: Fall et al. 2011

Fall et al. 2011: The Statistics

Fall et al. 2011: What We Learned About the Climate

According to the best-sited stations, the diurnal temperature range in the lower 48 states has no century-scale trend.

Today, I want to summarize the clear bias of NOAA’s National Climate Data Center under the leadership of Tom Karl and Tom Peterson on the research we have completed on the remaining uncertainties and systematic biases in the multi-decadal surface temperature analyses that are used by the IPCC and others in the quantification of global warming. Tom Karl is Director of the NOAA’s National Climate Data Center [NCDC], and Tom Peterson works for Tom Karl and has a leadership role in the analysis and interpretation of long term surface temperature data trends and anomalies.

The origin of the Fall et al 2011 study has roots in the paper

Davey, C.A., and R.A. Pielke Sr., 2005: Microclimate exposures of surface-based weather stations – implications for the assessment of long-term temperature trends. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., Vol. 86, No. 4, 497–504.

This study was part of the reason Anthony Watts launched his world-class study of the siting quality of the US climate reference network (USHCN). His outstanding (unfunded!) leadership on this project cannot be overstated.

Our Fall et al 2011 paper is one more illustration of the failure of NCDC, under the leadership of Tom Karl and Tom Peterson, to consider perspectives on the collection, analysis, and interpretation of the multi-decadal surface temperature record that differ from their view. It remains a real puzzlement to me why colleagues, who are personable on an individual level and who have published important science papers, become arrogant (e.g. see) and biased when they assume a leadership position.

That they failed in this leadership is documented, in depth, in

Pielke Sr., Roger A., 2005: Public Comment on CCSP Report “Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere: Steps for Understanding and Reconciling Differences“. 88 pp including appendices.

E-mail Documentation Of The Successful Attempt By Thomas Karl Director Of the U.S. National Climate Data Center To Suppress Biases and Uncertainties In the Assessment Of Surface Temperature Trends

Since NCDC did not want to examine the robustness of their analyses with respect the issues that were raised when I was a member of the 2005 CCSP report, I invited a number of colleagues to participate in research papers to examine these issues. I have listed these papers below this paragraph. 

NCDC scientists, however, have failed to respond in the peer reviewed literature to the science issues that we raise in our papers with the limited exception of the Menne et al 2010 paper (see and see for how poorly NCDC handled this). Ignoring these science issues does not make them disappear!

Our papers [and I have listed associated papers and blog posts from my weblog where others have responded] on the multi-decadal surface temperature data issue include, for example,

1. General papers

Pielke Sr., R.A., T. Stohlgren, W. Parton, J. Moeny, N. Doesken, L. Schell, and K. Redmond, 2000: Spatial representativeness of temperature measurements from a single site. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 81, 826-830.

Pielke Sr., R.A. J. Nielsen-Gammon, C. Davey, J. Angel, O. Bliss, N. Doesken, M. Cai., S.  Fall, D. Niyogi, K. Gallo, R. Hale, K.G. Hubbard, X. Lin, H. Li, and S. Raman, 2007: Documentation of uncertainties and biases associated with surface temperature measurement sites for climate change assessment. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 88:6, 913-928.

Pielke Sr., R.A., T. Stohlgren, L. Schell, W. Parton, N. Doesken, K. Redmond, J. Moeny, T. McKee, and T.G.F. Kittel, 2002: Problems in evaluating regional and local trends in temperature: An example from eastern Colorado, USA. Int. J. Climatol., 22, 421-434.

 Pielke Sr., R.A., C. Davey, D. Niyogi, S. Fall, J. Steinweg-Woods, K. Hubbard, X. Lin, M. Cai, Y.-K. Lim, H. Li, J. Nielsen-Gammon, K. Gallo, R. Hale, R. Mahmood, S. Foster, R.T. McNider, and P. Blanken, 2007: Unresolved issues with the assessment of multi-decadal global land surface temperature trends. J. Geophys. Res., 112, D24S08, doi:10.1029/2006JD008229.

Parker, D. E., P. Jones, T. C. Peterson, and J. Kennedy, 2009: Comment on Unresolved issues with the assessment of multidecadal global land surface temperature trends. by Roger A. Pielke Sr. et al.,J. Geophys. Res., 114, D05104, doi:10.1029/2008JD010450.

Pielke Sr., R.A., C. Davey, D. Niyogi, S. Fall, J. Steinweg-Woods, K. Hubbard, X. Lin, M. Cai, Y.-K. Lim, H. Li, J. Nielsen-Gammon, K. Gallo, R. Hale, R. Mahmood, S. Foster, R.T. McNider, and P. Blanken, 2009: Reply to comment by David E. Parker, Phil Jones, Thomas C. Peterson, and John Kennedy on “Unresolved issues with the assessment of multi-decadal global land surface temperature trends. J. Geophys. Res., 114, D05105, doi:10.1029/2008JD010938

2. Dependence of temperature trends on wind speeds and height above the surface

Pielke Sr., R.A., and T. Matsui, 2005: Should light wind and windy nights have the same temperature trends at individual levels even if the boundary layer averaged heat content change is the same? Geophys. Res. Letts., 32, No. 21, L21813, 10.1029/2005GL024407.

Lin, X., R.A. Pielke Sr., K.G. Hubbard, K.C. Crawford, M. A. Shafer, and T. Matsui, 2007: An examination of 1997-2007 surface layer temperature trends at two heights in Oklahoma. Geophys. Res. Letts., 34, L24705, doi:10.1029/2007GL031652. (see Urs Neu correction based on error in the Lin et al paper and the consequences for our conclusions on this weblog post

Steeneveld, G.J., A.A.M. Holtslag, R.T. McNider, and R.A Pielke Sr, 2011: Screen level temperature increase due to higher atmospheric carbon dioxide in calm and windy nights revisited. J. Geophys. Res., 116, D02122, doi:10.1029/2010JD014612.

3. Spatial representativeness of the surface sites

Hanamean, J.R. Jr., R.A. Pielke Sr., C.L. Castro, D.S. Ojima, B.C. Reed, and Z. Gao, 2003: Vegetation impacts on maximum and minimum temperatures in northeast Colorado. Meteorological Applications, 10, 203-215.

 Montandon, L.M., S. Fall, R.A. Pielke Sr., and D. Niyogi, 2011: Distribution of landscape types in the Global Historical Climatology Network. Earth Interactions, 15:6, doi: 10.1175/2010EI371

4. Divergence in time of the surface and lower tropospheric temperature trends

Klotzbach, P.J., R.A. Pielke Sr., R.A. Pielke Jr., J.R. Christy, and R.T. McNider, 2009: An alternative explanation for differential temperature trends at the surface and in the lower troposphere. J. Geophys. Res., 114, D21102, doi:10.1029/2009JD011841.

Klotzbach, P.J., R.A. Pielke Sr., R.A. Pielke Jr., J.R. Christy, and R.T. McNider, 2010: Correction to: “An alternative explanation for differential temperature trends at the surface and in the lower troposphere. J. Geophys. Res., 114, D21102, doi:10.1029/2009JD011841″, J. Geophys. Res., 115, D1, doi:10.1029/2009JD013655.

5. Effect of concurrent trends of absolute humidty on dry bulb temperature trends

Pielke Sr., R.A., C. Davey, and J. Morgan, 2004: Assessing “global warming” with surface heat content. Eos, 85, No. 21, 210-211

Davey, C.A., R.A. Pielke Sr., and K.P. Gallo, 2006: Differences between near-surface equivalent temperature and temperature trends for the eastern United States – Equivalent temperature as an alternative measure of heat content. Global and Planetary Change, 54, 19–32.

Fall, S., N. Diffenbaugh, D. Niyogi, R.A. Pielke Sr., and G. Rochon, 2010: Temperature and equivalent temperature over the United States (1979 – 2005). Int. J. Climatol., DOI: 10.1002/joc.2094.

6.Role of mesoscale and larger land use/land cover change on the multi-decadal surface temperature trends; 

 Marshall, C.H. Jr., R.A. Pielke Sr., L.T. Steyaert, and D.A. Willard, 2004: The impact of anthropogenic land-cover change on the Florida peninsula sea breezes and warm season sensible weather. Mon. Wea. Rev., 132, 28-52.

Marshall, C.H. Jr., R.A. Pielke Sr., and L.T. Steyaert, 2003: Crop freezes and land-use change in Florida. Nature, 426, 29-30.

Marshall, C.H., R.A. Pielke Sr., and L.T. Steyaert, 2004: Has the conversion of natural wetlands to agricultural land increased the incidence and severity of damaging freezes in south Florida? Mon. Wea. Rev., 132, 2243-2258.

Fall, S., D. Niyogi, A. Gluhovsky, R. A. Pielke Sr., E. Kalnay, and G. Rochon, 2009: Impacts of land use land cover on temperature trends over the continental United States: Assessment using the North American Regional Reanalysis. Int. J. Climatol., DOI: 10.1002/joc.1996.

NCDC, under the leadership of Tom Karl and Tom Peterson, has ignored  studies such as these. More importantly, the significance of our findings with respect to the level of confidence we should have in the robustness of their analyses, and the accuracy of their reports on temperature anomalies and trends, are misleading the public, government and the rest of the climate science community. 

I invite them to start fresh, and work with us, on the issues we have raised on the analysis and interpretation of the USHCN data.

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