The Pointlesseness of Climate Data

Brett Anderson of Accuweather links to a Nov 5, 2008 Earth Observatory article by Rebecca Lindsey, “Correcting Ocean Cooling“, examining how Josh Willis “determined that there were errors” in his “Recent Cooling of the Upper Ocean” work.

(both the 2007 correction and 2006 original are available at this link)

Brett explains that:

“After applying a correction, the historical record shows a relatively steady increase (ocean heat content) in line with what’s shown by climate models”

I am sorry but it does sound fishy that all the hard digging was done only because the data were too cool. One is left with the lingering feeling that no such an effort ever materializes for data that shows warming (talk about WARMING BIAS there…)

And in fact: taking the Earth Observatory article at face value, one can indeed figure out the real reason behind Willis’ revisiting of his original data. At the time of publication of the original article (2006):

Willis described the [original] results as a “speed bump” on the way to global warming

Apparently, he soon convinced himself his data was not right. In February 2007, Willis said to his wife:

“I think ocean cooling isn’t real”

Why? Because:

In fact, every body was telling me I was wrong

And what was Willis’ own “tipping point”?

It wasn’t until that next year of data came in that the cooling in the Atlantic became so large and so widespread that Willis accepted the cooling trend for what is was: an unambiguous sign that something in the observations was “clearly not right.”

In all likelihood, had the original data shown warming, and/or the “next year of data” shown widespread warming, few if anybody would have told Willing that he was “wrong“. Chances are he would not have re-analysed anything at all.

The real irony can be extracted from the end of the EO piece:

We need multiple, independent, overlapping sets of observations of climate processes from space and from the Earth’s surface so that we can create long-term climate records—and have confidence that they are accurate. We need theories about how the parts of the Earth system are related to each other so that we can make sense of observations. And we need models to help us see into the future.

But for years, Willis has been stressing that

Argo data show no warming in the upper ocean over the past four years, but this does not contradict the climate models

Now, obviously the corrected data do “not contradict the climate models” either.

And so it really does look like there is no need for “multiple, independent, overlapping sets of observations“. Any and every data is always unable to “contradict the climate models“.

Why do people still bother to measure anything related to climate when the end result is pre-ordained, one wonders.