What is particularly telling is the silence of the compilers of surface temperature records in response to requests from critics for a proper explanation of how and why they had needed to make so many adjustments to the original data.
Mother Nature has certainly been showing her amusement at those excitable claims last month that 2014 was “the hottest year on record”. In the north-eastern US, the past month has been the coldest since records were kept, and four of the five Great Lakes are on the verge of freezing over completely for the first time in living memory. Snow has fallen in Greece and across the Middle East as far south as Saudi Arabia, where locals gleefully building snowmen were greeted by a fatwa sternly pointing out that to make images of animate creatures was an offence against Islamic law.
How did we know that 2014 was “the hottest year ever”? This was based entirely on surface temperature data originally compiled by the US Global Historical Climate Network (GHCN), but then translated into their own versions by the compilers of three of the five official temperature records. But as I explained in two previous articles, a growing number of experts across the world have been discovering that something very odd has been going on with these records. Again and again they found that, checking them against the raw data originally recorded by weather stations, this had then been comprehensively “adjusted”, almost invariably in the same direction.
Earlier data had been “adjusted” downwards, more recent data upwards, to show much more of a warming trend than the actual recorded temperatures justified. Often, as Paul Homewood demonstrated on his Notalotofpeopleknowthat blog – after checking many weather stations in South America and across the Arctic – a cooling trend over the past century had been transformed into a warming trend.
It was this that helped to explain why it was only the adjusted surface records which showed 2014 to have been “the hottest year on record”. The other two official records, based on satellite measurements, which only go back to 1979, show nothing of the kind.
The international fallout from my two articles has been huge. The second, headed “The fiddling of temperature data has been the biggest science scandal ever”, scored a record 30,000 comments on The Telegraph website. But what is particularly telling has been the silence of GHCN and the compilers of the other surface records in response to requests from Homewood and others for a proper explanation of how and why they had needed to make so many adjustments to the original data.
What is now needed is a meticulous analysis of all the data, to establish just how far these adjustments have distorted the picture the world has been given. Although I cannot yet reveal any details, I gather that a responsible foundation is gathering an expert team to do just that. If the results confirm what has already been unearthed by Homewood and other analysts, from the US to New Zealand, this may indeed turn out to have been the greatest scandal in the history of science.