Some RC commenters are bemoaning the criticism that GISS is currently weathering. For example, Tamino:
Although the error originated NOT with GISS but before numbers even got through their door, I’ve heard no cries for heads to roll at NOAA or NWS — just vicious attacks on GISS.
As so often, Tamino simply makes stories up out of whole cloth. While I do not accept NASA’s blaming of their supplier as an excuse, I’ve clearly stated my hope that the present controversy will spark a long overdue assessment of the many problems at GHCN, some of which have been covered at Climate Audit from time to time. In my most recent post, I observed:
Perhaps this may give a long overdue impetus for a proper examination of GHCN’s failure to properly update readily available station data.
In my opinion, much of the criticism that GISS is presently receiving is because of Gavin Schmidt’s rancorous and ineffective public relations campaign at realclimate on behalf of Hansen, where he’s spent more time making baseless attacks of his own, than in simply chinning up, taking his medicine and properly acknowledging both Watts Up and Climate Audit. Pit bull tactics are seldom effective in circumstances like the present.
We’ve also been criticized for not being “constructive”. Well, eliminating errors is constructive in my opinion. I’d also like to report that over a year ago, I wrote to GHCN asking for a copy of their adjustment code:
I’m interested in experimenting with your Station History Adjustment algorithm and would like to ensure that I can replicate an actual case before thinking about the interesting statistical issues. Methodological descriptions in academic articles are usually very time-consuming to try to replicate, if indeed they can be replicated at all. Usually it’s a lot faster to look at source code in order to clarify the many little decisions that need to be made in this sort of enterprise. In econometrics, it’s standard practice to archive code at the time of publication of an article – a practice that I’ve (by and large unsuccessfully) tried to encourage in climate science, but which may interest you. Would it be possible to send me the code for the existing and the forthcoming Station History adjustments. I’m interested in both USHCN and GHCN if possible.
To which I received the following reply from a GHCN employee:
You make an interesting point about archiving code, and you might be encouraged to hear that Configuration Management is an increasingly high priority here. Regarding your request — I’m not in a position to distribute any of the code because I have not personally written any homogeneity adjustment software. I also don’t know if there are any “rules” about distributing code, simply because it’s never come up with me before.
I never did receive any code from them. However an examination of GHCN code is clearly warranted and, if NOAA’s resources are as constrained as GISS’ are said to be, one would think that they would unreservedly facilitate third party examination of their code.
Now there are many puzzles in GHCN adjustments, to say the least, and these adjustments are inhaled into GISS. Verhojansk is in the heart of the Siberian “hot spot”, presently a balmy minus 22 deg C. The graphics below compare GISS dset0 in the most recent scribal version to GISS dset 2 (showing identity other than small discrepancies at the start of the segment); the right compares GISS dset0 to the GHCN-Daily Average.
Over the past 20 years, the GISS version (presumably obtained from GHCN monthly) has risen 1.7 deg C (!) relative to the average taken from GHCN Daily results.
What causes this? I have no idea. It would be well worth finding out. The last GISS fiasco led to GISS code becoming available. Maybe the present fiasco will lead to GHCN code becoming available.