NASA: “Hide this after Jim checks it”

The word “hide” has obviously attracted a lot of attention lately – “hide the decline” even occasioning its own song.

Today I’d like to discuss the following remarkable instructions by a NASA employee in the recently disclosed NASA emails (available at Judicial Watch):

Robert, please move to the CU site and hide this after Jim checks it.
Darnell, please send it out to Jim’s email list. Jim said if I don’t want to, you should do…

What is that they are planning to “hide”? And why would they be “hiding” it in the first place? And why would Hansen think that one of his employees wouldn’t “want” to send something out to Jim’s email list?

In order to forestall claims that I’ve shown these words “out of context”, I’ve done a careful review of the events leading up to this email.

The context is the Hansen Y2K controversy in August 2007. On August 3 (10:46 am Eastern), I had published a post entitled Hansen’s Y2K Error in which I observed a previously unreported “Y2K error” in GISS USHCN conclusively disproved efforts by Eli Rabett (for example, here) and Tamino to discredit Anthony Watts’ surface stations project on the basis that NASA software could “fix” inhomogeneous station data. I observed in this post:

The input version [for the Detroit Lakes example shown] switches from the USHCN adjusted/TOBS version to the USHCN raw version (without time-of-observation adjustment). This imparts an upward discontinuity of 1 deg C in wintertime and 0.8 deg C annually. I checked the monthly data and determined that the discontinuity occurred on January 2000 – and, to that extent, appears to be a Y2K problem. I presume that this is a programming error.

This post was the result of a lengthy process of cross-comparing different versions of station data in order to try to figure out the precise provenance of GISS data – a procedure reasonably described as “reverse engineering”.

Within a few hours (13:21 Eastern), NASA blogger Gavin Schmidt, like the eye of Saruman ever alert to the smallest rustling in the blogosphere, noticed the CA post and immediately notified NASA employee Reto Ruety :

If you didn’t see it: There is something curious here, why does GISS raw go back to USHCN unadjusted in 2000? Shouldn’t it have stayed with USHCN + TOBS? Gavin. PS if this is all as it should be, we need to make clear the reasons very quickly. Otherwise the myth of the “Hansen Y2K error” will be all around the place and once it’s out, it won’t go away.

Ruedy quickly realized that there was indeed a problem and suggested to Gavin that they could adjust the USHCN data prior to 2000 to match the post-2000 GHCN version. Gavin wondered whether it might make sense to adjust the post-2000 GHCN data (a logical suggestion – one that I made independently – but one that wasn’t followed).

On August 4, I sent an email to Hansen notifying him of the problem.

In your calculation of the GISS “raw” version of USHCN series, it appears to me that, for series after January 2000, you use the USHCN raw version whereas in the immediately prior period you used USHCN time-of-observation or adjusted version. In some cases, this introduces a seemingly unjustified step in January 2000.

I am unaware of any mention of this change in procedure in any published methodological descriptions and am puzzled as to its rationale. Can you clarify this for me?

In addition, could you provide me with any documentation (additional to already published material) providing information on the calculation of GISS raw and adjusted series from USHCN versions, including relevant source code. Thank you for your attention, Stephen McIntyre

The emails now show a steady stream of discussions by and between NASA employees.

On Monday morning (Aug 6), Ruedy described me to Hansen as follows:

Steve is the person who appointed himself auditor of all web sites and organizations that have to do with global warming in order to debunk this “hoax”. He is maintaining a blog – a website called , a site containing among justified concerns (caveats that we stress in all our papers) obvious fabrications and vicious attacks … I expect only a minor effect since the offsets average out to ~0 over all USHCN stations”

On Monday evening August 6 (23:19 Eastern), I published my own first estimate of the impact of the error in the post Quantifying the Hansen Y2K Error. I showed a bimodal distribution of the step discontinuities and that the distribution was not symmetric. I estimated that there would be an upward step at January 2000 of about 0.18-0.19 deg C (not a bad estimate as things turn out),

The step in January 2000 is clearly visible and results in an erroneous upward step of about 0.18-0.19 deg C. in the average of all unlit stations. I presume that a corresponding error would be carried forward into the final GISS estimate of US lower 48 temperature and that this widely used estimate would be incorrect by a corresponding amount. The 2000s are warm in this record with or without this erroneous step, but this is a non-negligible error relative to (say) the amounts contested in the satellite record disputes.

The next morning (Aug 7), Ruedy sent Hansen and Gavin a draft reply to my email. He reported a US error of 0.15 deg C (a bit lower than my estimate the previous night.) The draft reply satirized the idea (then being promulgated by Rabett and Tamino) that GISS software could “fix” defects in surface data:

I had no idea what code you are referring to until I learned from your article “Hansen’s Y2K Error (which should really be Reto’s Y2K error) that GISS is in possession of some magical software that is able to “fix” the defects in surface data. No wonder you would like to get your hands on that – so would I. Unfortunately your source totally misled you in that respect. I’m a little amazed that you uncritically present it as a fact given that a large part of your web site is devoted to convincingly prove that such software cannot possibly exist.

Gavin suggested a pared down reply which Ruedy agreed to, replying:

Any attempts to teach or outsmart Steve are counterproductive and a total waste of time.

Let’s just say that I disagree that the “teaching” part would be “counterproductive and a total waste of time”. After a number of exchanges, Hansen weighed in, with Ruedy seizing on Hansen’s suggestions as a means to “ignore” Climate Audit even though we now know that the blog was the original source of their knowledge of the error:

Jim, thanks – with your suggested change, we totally ignore his blogs

The nuance here is that they would (for a very short time) acknowledge me personally without acknowledging the blog – even though it turns out that they learned of the problem from the blog. (A few weeks later, they deleted the acknowledgement.) Late in the afternoon, Ruedy replied to me by email (which I noted that evening in an update here.)

Through the two days, NASA employees were busy re-calculating the adjusted USHCN network, discussing this passim in August 7 emails. Instead of adjusting the post-2000 GHCN values, they adjusted the pre-2000 USHCN values. This led to changes in literally millions of individual values in their database.

Early in the morning of August 8, CA readers began to become aware of the wholesale changes – see comments in the Quantifying thread.

Reader Mikel was the first to observe changes in the US history. Jerry Brennan was the first to notice changes in individual station data, and shortly afterwards confirmed “completely new” pre-2000 numbers in a spot check of three stations:

I looked at three of the stations that I checked a few days ago, and all three have completely new pre 2000 numbers in the GISS “raw” files.

Following Jerry Brennan’s lead, I also checked some stations, also confirming massive changes to pre-2000 values:

#45. I checked Hopewell and I agree. Jeez, they’ve been crazy busy the last couple of days. I’m not sure what they’re doing but they’re really going at it fast. IF Hopewell VA is typical, they’ll have changed all the GISS raw and GISS adjusted versions in the U.S. before 2000.

I think that they are trying to do things too fast without thinking it through. If this is what they’ve done (and I’m not sure yet), the pre-2000 GISS raw (which was fairly stable) has been changed into pre-adjusted versions that now don’t track to original sources, whatever those sources were.

My, my…

If it were me in their shoes, I’d have kept the pre-2000 data intact and adjusting the post-2000 data. Far too many changes in what they’re doing. But it will take a couple of days to assess the situation.

A bit later, I observe:

Here’s something interesting. If you compare “old” Hopewell VA numbers (fortunately preserved due to my much criticized “scraping” of GISS data) to the “new” Hopewell VA numbers, the GISS “raw” data for say June 1934 or June 1935 has gone up by 0.7 deg C, while the GISS “adjusted” data has gone up by only 0.1 deg C. So in some cases, their “UHI” adjustment as applied offsets what was a programming error. Makes you wonder about the validity of the UHI adjustment. BTW as Jerry previewed, their US data set is now a total mess. Everything’s been written over prior to 2000.

In the early afternoon of August 8 (14:51 Eastern), I wrote a short post on changes in the “leaderboard”. This short and simple post attracted a lot of attention and infuriated Hansen:

There has been some turmoil yesterday on the leaderboard of the U.S. (Temperature) Open and there is a new leader.

A little unexpectedly, 1998 had a late bogey and 1934 had a late birdie. (I thought that they were both in the clubhouse since the turmoil seemed to be in the 2000s.) In any event, the new leader atop the U.S. Open is 1934.

2006 had a couple of late bogeys and fell to 4th place, behind even 1921. I think that there’s a little air in the 2006 numbers even within GISS procedures as the other post-2000 lost about 0.15 strokes through late bogeys, while it lost only 0.10 strokes. It is faltering and it might yet fall behind 1931 into 5th place.

Four of the top 10 are now from the 1930s: 1934, 1931, 1938 and 1939, while only 3 of the top 10 are from the last 10 years (1998, 2006, 1999). Several years (2000, 2002, 2003, 2004) fell well down the leaderboard, behind even 1900. (World rankings are calculated separately.) Note: For the new leaderboard see The old data has been erased; by sheer chance, I had the old data active in my R-session but I can’t give a link to it.)

As events proved out, Hansen didn’t need Saruman to bring the matter to his attention. It’s interesting in retrospect to review the ripples from the blog to NASA as a media exercise – as the story spread first through specialist blogs, then into the media, at which point Hansen paid attention.

The first blog coverage appears to be on August 8 by Anthony – then a fledgling blog, a long way from being #2 at Wikio.

The next day (Aug 9), it got mentioned at realclimate, where Gavin dismissed the point as insignificant and, despite Climate Audit’s obvious priority in identifying the spliced data sets, falsely credited GISS themselves with pinning down the precise error:

Once notified of the problem, GISS investigated immediately, found the error, and added an extra step to the analysis to remove any jump at the transition

At 10:30, Noel Sheppard at Newsbusters posted on the story, restricting the point (as I had done) to the US, rather than global, temperatures. An hour later, the story was reported at here, where it was also noted that the effect on global temperatures was minor, but the effect on the US was noticeable. Both stories commented adversely on NASA’s changing the data without an explicit change notice.

In the early afternoon (14:28), Andy Revkin asked Schmidt and/or Hansen about the story, again noting the restriction to the US:

“you probably noticed the mcintyre et al depiction of GISS annual temp estimates for US over time. Were the revisions published yet or are they updated in databases alone? Also are you doing same for global mean temp or is this specific issue related to US?”

An hour later, Gavin had drafted a reply, which he forwarded to Ruedy. Ruedy quickly responded that the issue was a “red herring” because the values in their 2001 (!) paper were unaffected, as the data used in the paper ended in 1999 before the splice:

“none of the figures in our latest (2001) paper were affected since it was written in 2000 and only data up to 1999 was used for the figures in that paper… a red herring”

Around 6 pm Aug 9, a citizen emailed Hansen directly asking for a comment. Hansen forwarded the email to Ruedy and Gavin. Around 7 pm, Ruedy suggested to Gavin that the inquiry either be “ignored” or that they “set matters straight” at RealClimate:

“Jim gets many of these kinds of responses – a change whose effect we described as well within the margin of error has become an “astonishing change”…. I guess the best thing is to ignore it and – if at all – set matters straight in a place like RealClimate.

At 19:12, Gavin replied tersely, agreeing that the matter should be dealt with at RealClimate (which he did in a post the next day):


Later in the evening, Hansen, apparently never bothering to read what I’d actually written on the topic, sent an email to Revkin calling the incident a “tempest inside somebody’s teapot dome” – a phrase that Hansen seemed to like as he re-used it , fuming:

This seems to be a tempest inside somebody’s teapot dome… It is unclear why anyone wuold try to make something out of this, perhaps a light not on upstairs? Or perhaps this is coming from one of the old contrarians? They can’t seem to get over the fact that the real world has proven them full of malarkey! You would think that they would be ready to crawl under a rock by now.

On August 10, the story gets covered in a few more places. The New York Times Opinionator reported on the dailytech column around 9 a.m. A reporter from the National Post in Canada inquires at to several NASA employees, referring to Anthony Watts’ post of two days earlier.

At 10:23 Hansen complained that he is being “besieged” by emails (either the FOI is incomplete or, in Hansen-world, a few inquiries constitute a siege) and decided to “do something”:

I am being besieged by emails and calls about this, so we need to do something promptly as there will be stories written today for publication tomorrow… By the way, Makiko, do you remember if we ever make any statement about how different years ranked for the U.S. temperatures? There are several demands that we issue a press release correcting our wrong results and declaring that 1934 is now the warmest year on record in the US and also that 4 of the 10 warmest years were in the 1930s and only 3 in the last 10 years.

In the late morning, Ruedy answered Leslie McCarthy (apparently the PR person) sycophantically describing Hansen’s tirade to Revkin as answering in the “clearest and most beautiful way”, before making various accusations against me:

Andy Revkin asked the same question and Jim’s answer below says it all in the clearest and most beautiful way… The blog you attached is a prime example of what gives bloggers a really bad name; somebody with no idea what he is talking about is spouting absolute nonsense, making no distinction between what is essential (the facts he conveniently omits) and what is pure noise (which he is concentrating on exclusively). ..

He finds it astounding that the years 1934 and 1998 reversed ranks, not remembering that the corrections only affected years 2000-2006, hence there is no possible connection there. By speaking of warmest year (rather than warmest year in the US time record), he successfully deceived people like Mark Taylor.”

Just before noon Aug 10, Hansen again complains about being “besieged”, but this time with a knot in his stomach as he’s just been told that the earlier results have been “thrown away”, making a before and after comparison impossible. Hansen pleads for his subordinates to retrace their steps or they will “never live this down” and sensibly recommends that they save their results at least once a year in the future:

I am being besieged by these… The appropriate response is to show the curves for U.S. and global temperatures before and after McIntyre’s correction. Makiko doubts that his is possible because the earlier result has been ‘thrown away’. We will never live this down if we give such a statement. It must be possible to reconstruct the “before” result. Unfortunately this needs to be done soon as there are various writers with deadlines this afternoon. .. By the way, I think that we should save the results of the analyses at least once a year, so we will have a record of how they change.

An hour later, Ruedy told Hansen, much to his relief, that the data had not been thrown out and that they could do the desired comparison. So Hansen started writing what became his “Lights On Upstairs” jeremiad.

Meanwhile, Gavin was responding to inquiries from Stewart Gaffin about the Opinionator piece, which recapped the dailytech article that stated that I had ” “reverse engineered” the data to find NASA’s algorithm, discovered that a Y2K bug had played havoc with some of the numbers and notified the space agency.” Gavin disparaged my role in the matter, again attributing the precise diagnosis to NASA (though it was me who had spotted the change in data sets) and denying that I had had to do “reverse engineering” to figure out the problem – even though that was precisely what I had had to do (in the form of patient comparison of multiple versions of different data sets):

The opinionator piece is mostly made up… The issue is that McIntyre noticed an odd jump in some US stations at the switch between 1999 and 2000. He sent a letter pointing out the jump, the GISTEMP people looked into it, saw the problem and fixed it in less than a day. No “reverse engineering”. Nobody ‘always puzzled by the gaps’ and no havoc.

Meanwhile, Hansen had finished his draft Lights Out Upstairs editorial and circulated it to his staff at 15:54, noting that it still “needs the figures and links”.

Concurrently, Sato sent a note to Hansen reminding him that 1934 and 1998 had changed places (this is covered more thoroughly in a later Sato memo) and that earlier in the year (January), 1998 was in first place.

Let’s try to remember what statements we made about US temperature. … (3) In January 2007, I showed on my “Some Extra” page which most people don’t look at: 1834 1.23, 1998 1.24 and 2006 1.23.

She added that, while NASA didn’t usually publicize US rankings, NOAA did (e.g. their January 2007 press release (which was headlined “NOAA REPORTS 2006 WARMEST YEAR ON RECORD FOR U.S.” and which was very much in the air at the time).

In response to Hansen’s attempt to restrict attention to global trends, Revkin reminded Hansen that USA temperature trends had been frequently used in advocacy (and thus the point could not be dismissed quite as easily as Hansen wanted):

Given that quite a few folks (Gore and some enviros particularly) have often used the USA temp trends in arguments for action (string of record years) it’s hard for me to ignore the reanalysis of those annual temps – even though my own focus remains global mean temps. …happy to discuss by phone til 6 pm or so.

During the next few hours, Hansen’s subordinates worked busily to get Lights Out Upstairs ready for showtime. At 16:04, Schmunk checked with Hansen on which precise 2001 reference he wanted to link to. At 16:18, Sato asked whether the figures were too large or too small. At 16:26, Sato confirmed to Schmunk that a fresh version had been sent to Hansen and asked Schmunk about links. At 16:29, Hansen sent out a revised version for comment to Schmunk, Ruedy, Sato and Darrell Cain. At 16:35, Ruedy notified Sato of a few typos. At 16:43, Schmunk advised Sato on pdf linking style. At 16:50, Sato sent minor edits to Hansen. At 17:09, Hansen reverted with two small changes. At around 17:30, Sato sent a final version to Schmunk, Hansen and Cain, telling Schmunk to move the essay to CU (Hansen’s “personal” site) and “hide” it at the NASA site and telling Darnell Cain that he had to send it out to Hansen’s email list:

Jim, please check if everything is fine.
Robert, please move to the CU site and hide this after Jim checks it.
Darnell, please send it out to Jim’s email list. Jim said if I don’t want to, you should do, but it is not a matter of what I WANT TO or NOT WANT TO. I don’t know how to.

Within a couple of minutes of Sato asking Schmunk to “hide” the Lights Out Upstairs editorial on the NASA website, Gavin Schmidt (at 17:33), in accordance with his agreement with Ruedy the previous day, used RealClimate as a vehicle to set “matters straight” about Hansen’s Y2K error (see here) once again trivializing the issue. For my own take on the significance of the incident, see my contemporary editorial here where I argued:

My own view has been that matter is certainly not the triviality that Gavin Schmidt would have you believe, but neither is it any magic bullet. I think that the point is significant for reasons that have mostly eluded commentators on both sides.

Back to the Lights Out Upstairs editorial. At 17:55, Schmunk reverted to Sato and the others with slightly edited doc and PDF versions. At 18:10, Schmunk notified Darnell Cain that the PDF was going up at Hansen’s personal (CU) website. At 18:22, Hansen thanked the NASA team for their help in disseminating “A Lights On Upstairs”:

Thanks to all of you for the rush job! I think that it is very clear.

At 18:27, A Light on Upstairs? was online at Hansen’s personal website here. Despite Sato’s notice to Hansen that 1998 had ranked first in NASA rankings earlier that year, Hansen stated that they had ranked 1934 first in their 2001 paper and falsely and stubbornly asserted that it ranked first both “before and after” the Y2K correction:

our prior analysis had 1934 as the warmest year in the U.S. (see the 2001 paper above), and it continues to be the warmest year, both before and after the correction to post 2000 temperatures.

Hansen then complained once again about being “besieged” – this time by “rants” and not by “emails” and, apparently proud of his bon mots about “tempest inside someone’s teapot dome” and a “light not being on upstairs”, included these phrases in his jeremiad:

Somehow the flaw in 2001-2007 U.S. data was advertised on the internet and for two days I have been besieged by rants that I have wronged the President, that I must “step down”, or that I must “vanish”. Hmm, I am not very good at magic tricks.

My apologies if the quick response that I sent to Andy Revkin and several other journalists, including the suggestion that it was a tempest inside somebody’s teapot dome, and that perhaps a light was not on upstairs, was immoderate. It was not ad hominem, though.

So why did Sato want to “hide” A Lights On Upstairs? at the NASA website. And why did Hansen think that Sato might not want to distribute the Lights On email for him? And, after NASA employees had worked all afternoon on Lights Out Upstairs, why did Hansen post Lights Out Upstairs at his “personal” website rather than at the NASA GISS website?

Obviously we don’t know the answers. But it’s not hard to speculate on why Hansen chose to publish the article at his “personal” website. NASA has policies and regulations on the dissemination of NASA information – see a CA discussion from late 2007 here). Would Lights Out Upstairs – with its whiny and juvenile tone – comply with NASA peer review procedures? Seems pretty unlikely to me. And I’m sure that Hansen was as aware of this as anyone.

The most plausible explanation for Sato wanting to “hide” Lights Out was presumably to avoid the article being deemed to require NASA peer as required for all NASA work product, a classification that Hansen seems to want to avoid in this case.

For some reason, Hansen seemed to have thought that Sato didn’t “want” to send out the email for him and had already instructed Darrell Cain to send out the email if Sato didn’t “want” to. We don’t know why Hansen thought this about Sato. Perhaps she didn’t think that it was appropriate for a NASA employee to be providing personal services to her boss (something not encouraged in NASA codes of conduct). Or maybe it was something very mundane.

Exactly why Hansen asked NASA employees to send an editorial being published on his “personal” webpage to his “personal” email list is also unclear. Perhaps Hansen was either unable or unwilling to do anything quite so menial as sending his work product to his “personal” email list. Maybe he was delivering insulation materials to a poor family. Maybe he was planting a tree.

In any event, the emails show that either Lights Out Upstairs was NASA work product (and not personal) or that NASA employees were diverted from NASA business to provide personal services for their boss. Something to keep in mind when contemplating the ongoing conundrum of how Gavin Schmidt operates RealClimate on his “personal time” – which elastically includes NASA working hours.

Postscript: On August 13, NASA headquarters sent an inquiry to NASA GISS about the Y2K controversy, then in its second wind. Even though the matter was 10 days old, there was no assessment at the NASA GISS website. Instead of publishing an assessment at the NASA website – the logical place, Hansen and Schmidt responded in off-balance sheet venues: Hansen at his “personal” website and Gavin, in accordance with his agreement with Ruedy, at RealClimate. So instead of being able to refer NASA headquarters to a clear and professional assessment at the NASA website, Hansen’s answer was:

Send them Lights On Upstairs.


  1. Ian McLeod
    Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 1:22 AM | Permalink

    I’ve always wondered how NASA employees such as Gavin Schmidt and Jim Hansen get away with operating a blog during office hours. I know for a fact that if I had a climate blog, my boss would rightly ask me when exactly these editorials and mathematical analysis were done. He could look at my most recent write up (such as the one above) and estimate fairly closely how long it took me to write it up. He’d say, “There’s at least four hours of work there, when did you do it? Last night? Aren’t you supposed to be working on that proposal I asked for?”

    Here is clear evidence of many NASA employees working on “spin” instead of NASA business. What’s worse, Hansen has half his team working on it.

    In the real world (business world), I’d be fired.

    Great analysis Steve!

    • Puggs
      Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 4:57 AM | Permalink

      To spell it out; The obvious conclusion is that NASA must sanction, and even more likely, encourage Schmidt and Hansen’s to work on RC etc.

      • Gunnar
        Posted Jan 28, 2010 at 7:13 AM | Permalink

        >> The obvious conclusion is that NASA must sanction, and even more likely, encourage Schmidt and Hansen’s to work on RC etc

        Exactly. Other comments are missing the point, since they have as a premise that NASA has not been directed to promote AGW.

        The reality is that part of NASA’s mission is to study planet earth, monitor global warming, etc. For example, the NASA Carbon Mission.

        We don’t need to “conclude” this based on some obscure e-mails, just take a look at:

        It’s not about micromanagement or personal/work time. It’s their official job.

    • GabrielB
      Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 6:35 AM | Permalink

      Ian, I assure you that not everyone is as micro-managed as you sound to be. As a salaried knowledge-worker I don’t punch a clock, and as long as I get an appropriate amount of work done and am present for meetings as required, it doesn’t matter to my boss how I divide my time between work and non-work.
      If they found out I was running a climate blog during 9-5 time and I hadn’t told them about it then it might raise concern, but if I was up-front about it and showed that it didn’t impact my performance it would be fine. The joy of being treated like an adult!

      • Mark T
        Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 3:05 PM | Permalink

        The difference, of course, is that Gavin is working on the public dime and doing so is likely not allowed.


        • GabrielB
          Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 10:06 PM | Permalink

          Despite the obvious wish of many here, I do not think it is universal policy that every government-funded employee must make an hourly accounting of their time. This may or may not be true of NASA GISS specifically – but to show that it is requires some evidence.

          In any case, the whole argument about work-hours seems rather feeble. Just as the content of the CRU emails is more relevant than their provenance, the content of Gavin’s RC postings is more important than whether or not they are made in violation of his employment contract. But the innuendo makes a nice ad hom.

        • Jere Krischel
          Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 10:58 PM | Permalink

          Regardless of hourly accounting, conducting personal political activism during company time is obviously not appropriate. Every government funded employee should be spending the time we pay them for on their actual work, whether or not we track their hours, or simply their days.

          Now, nobody is saying that because Gavin is posting on time paid for by the government that his arguments are incorrect (that would be ad hom) – it’s simply being stated that because Gavin is posting on time paid for by the government that such misconduct should be investigated and remedied.

        • Rhoda R
          Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 2:11 PM | Permalink

          I’m ex-civil service and it is absolutely against Government policy to use Government equipment for anything other than Government functions. Ditto extracurricular activities on Government time. There are always exceptions: usng the computer to notify folks of a office party,etc. But not this prolonged diversion of Government assets to support what amount to a political agenda.

        • Pop
          Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 9:45 AM | Permalink

          “Despite the obvious wish of many here, I do not think it is universal policy that every government-funded employee must make an hourly accounting of their time.”

          As a gov worker, I can tell you that, yes, we are required to make an hourly accounting of our time.

        • GabrielB
          Posted Jan 26, 2010 at 9:21 AM | Permalink

          Can you (or anyone else) cite the legislation or policy that mandates this for ALL gov workers? If it exists then it is being ignored in some quarters and it would be good to have something authoritative on the subject.

        • Person of Choler
          Posted Jan 26, 2010 at 7:11 AM | Permalink

          Does the Hatch Act (1) still exist and (2) have anything to say about spinning a political line on taxpayer time?

        • R.S.Brown
          Posted Jan 26, 2010 at 9:29 AM | Permalink

          Yes, The Hatch Act (and a number of “Little Hatch Acts”, applying to various state and local governments) is still around. It was designed, in part to eliminate classified civil service employees from participating in partisan politics>.

          This covers party politics only… “issue” advocacy for slot machines,Global Warming, and day care legislation aren’t covered by these laws.

          The idea back then was to get the political bosses off the backs of the “neutral” non-patronage employees, and at the same time keep the workers out of politics. No mandatory employee campaign donations, no “flower funds”, no overt campaigning for a candidate.

          That’s the way it was supposed to work in Ohio in the 1970s, 80s and 90s when I worked for a state university. In the university service/academic environment, this worked fairly well. Other state and local political subdivisions had more of a “don’t get caught” philosophy.

          So, for #2, no. Issue advocacy does not = politics in the eyes of the law.

          Issue advocacy while you’re on “on the clock” is a totally different kettle of fish. Look under Fed & state labor law rulings for “theft of service”.

    • snowmaneasy
      Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 11:08 AM | Permalink

      – snip – piling on..

  2. Erik in Cairo
    Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 1:36 AM | Permalink


    As usual, this was quite compelling. However, you might want to change the “eye of Saruman” metaphor to the “eye of Sauron.”

    • geo
      Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 10:40 AM | Permalink

      +1. Saruman had a nice palantir he looked into, but the all seeing lidless eye was Sauron (the big baddie to Saruman’s Evil Henchman)

      • Erik in Cairo
        Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 10:58 AM | Permalink

        @geo, so what you are saying is that the metaphor holds, since the “eye of Saruman” is the palantir …which acts as an extension of the “eye of Sauron”?

        I’d buy that.

        • geo
          Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 11:03 AM | Permalink

          Sounds like a realclimate kind of explanation to me, Erik!

        • Erik in Cairo
          Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 12:04 PM | Permalink

          It appears that this is a climateaudit kind of explanation, too. Steve M seems to have intended a Middle Earthean allegory in which Saruman acts as an extension of his Sauron. In such a case, the “eye of Saruman” is a synechdote for the unlidded eye, high atop Barad-dur.

        • Posted Jan 26, 2010 at 12:35 PM | Permalink

          Wow. I love the Lord of the Rings, but this is getting WAY OT.

    • Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 10:56 AM | Permalink

      Ah, there were LOTR nerds there before me! It’s such a good analogy though, I don’t the precise name matters too much. And Gavin always was the sidekick.

    • Ron H.
      Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 2:25 PM | Permalink

      I too was troubled by the “Eye of Saruman” metaphor, but I see it has gotten all the attention it needs. There’s nothing more I can add. 🙂

      I think we appreciate this level of detail because of Steve’s insistence on accuracy and precision from those that would otherwise get away with some incredibly sloppy work on climate.

  3. Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 2:07 AM | Permalink

    “Jim gets many of these kinds of responses – a change whose effect we described as well within the margin of error has become an “astonishing change”…. I guess the best thing is to ignore it and – if at all – set matters straight in a place like RealClimate.

    If the margin of error is that large, I think we can safely ignore any warming of the 20th century as being entirely and utterly mundane.

    • Keith Waters
      Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 3:53 AM | Permalink

      Reto Ruedy had more to say, of interest, a week later, see this from AJStrata and be sure to follow the link to previous post. Ruedy, “… the US time series … is so noisy and has such a large margin of error that no conclusions can be drawn from it at this point.”

      • Keith Waters
        Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 3:56 AM | Permalink


  4. Jere Krischel
    Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 2:12 AM | Permalink

    Wow. Steve, you’re a god damn saint for all the crap you’ve put up with from these yahoos. Thank you from the bottom of my heart on behalf of every human on the planet for calmly, rationally, and rightfully holding their feet to the harsh fire of truth.

    Some say that one man can’t make a difference – you keep proving them wrong again and again and again.

    Mahalo nui loa!

    • Craig Loehle
      Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 9:49 AM | Permalink

      I second that. I get about 1% of the crap that Steve gets, being only a minor jester to these guys, and it turns my stomach sometimes.

      • Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 1:55 PM | Permalink

        And a third. I (and a few others, like Alex Harvey & Ron Cram) try to move Wikipedia climate-change articles to some semblance of neutrality (and usually fail), and put up with some astonishingly childish and vicious behavior from the warmists along the way.

        Thanks again, Steve. This is what you will be remembered for, and you are finally starting to get some recognition for your CC/AGW work, at least in the WSJ and Canadian press.

        Best for 2010,
        Pete Tillman
        Consulting Geologist, Arizona and New Mexico (USA)

        • Jimw
          Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 8:42 PM | Permalink

          Pete, some of my posts to wikipedia talk page on climategate, like yours, have been allowed to stay, though with appended vilification and with no apparent effect. Look for Oiler99 on the talk: page.

    • Eric
      Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 3:01 PM | Permalink

      It is not just crap. There is clearly and rightfully grudging, very grudging, respect. I read Schmidt’s comment about it being “a waste of time to try to fool or teach Steve” as being heavily weighted toward the later with the “teach” bit only included as a face saving nicety.

      As RPjr has said – if you are going to mess with Steve you’d better make sure you do your homework. We have seen that these guys were not in that habit until Steve repeatedly exposed them. If nothing else our host has single-handedly caused a dramatic improvement in data retention process and procedure at more than on government organization.

    • Posted Jan 26, 2010 at 12:45 PM | Permalink

      I second that. Steve’s tenacity in every aspect of his work and communication is absolutely profound. I don’t know how he does it. He is a true hero. We all owe him a great deal.

  5. EdeF
    Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 2:29 AM | Permalink

    That seems like a lot of work to go back and change the pre-2000 data. Why not just change the 2000 on data? Oh, but that makes both series warmer, especially since we don’t know how far back they corrected the data. It also makes their 1960 to 1990 baseline hotter. Obviously they were trying to maintain the recent decades ranking as the warmest during the thermometer time frame, no matter what the cost. I have nil confidence in GISS data now. Is there anyway, at present, to look at the data and know with confidence if it is raw data, processed data with time and UHI correction, or raw data minus Yogi Berra’s lifetime batting average?

    Steve: it was a bad decision but not necessarily for the reason that bothers you here. This particular adjustment was supposedly just dealing with the jump and the adjustment could have been either before or after. One of my contemporary posts notes an odd interaction with their two-legged adjustment though,

    • MikeN
      Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 3:01 AM | Permalink

      Re: EdeF (Jan 23 02:29), I remember EM Smith(ChiefIO) confused me when I was asking him about the GISTemp methodology, and he said there was no raw data. It’s making a bit more sense now.

      Steve: be careful not to pile on to unrelated points.

  6. Steven Mosher
    Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 2:33 AM | Permalink

    Any attempts to ….. outsmart Steve are counterproductive and a total waste of time.

    But when its taxpayers footing the Bill, who cares about wasting nasa employees time.

    You know when I worked for defense we had to fill out time cards BY THE HOUR.
    Here is a thought Steve. I wonder of NASA employees have to fill out time cards
    to indicated what they did each day? maybe not.

    You know, when I got my instructions on time cards it was stressed that it was a felony of some sorts to falsify a time card. maybe that was just bean counters
    trying to flex their muscles..

    But gosh with a paper trail like you got….could be fun.

    • Troy Baer
      Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 9:48 AM | Permalink

      DoE ha fairly strict timekeeping requirements as well. However, I don’t recall if NASA employees and contractors had anything like that from when I was worked at NASA Lewis (now Glenn) in Cleveland, but then again this was 15-17 years ago and I was only a lowly summer intern at the time…

    • Mark T
      Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 3:07 PM | Permalink

      Tenths of an hour, actually.


      • Steven Mosher
        Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 2:22 AM | Permalink

        I thought it was actually 20 minute increments but that was 20 years ago

    • Gerry Parker
      Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 9:41 PM | Permalink


      I’m required to take “training” on this every year, and just completed it a few months ago. Fraudulent time reporting in a facility where government contracts are being performed is a crime. Period. Fraudulent time charging is typically a firing offense, as you endanger the ability of the organization to secure further government contracts.
      If NASA has an Ombudsman anyone can raise the allegation and they are required to investigate the charge.


  7. LMB
    Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 2:50 AM | Permalink

    You can file a FOIA request to get the computer logs of government employees. I’ve seen TV news reports on this type of thing where they get proof of govt workers downloading p-rn or whatever on taxpayer time. You can even get the URLs of the sites they visited in certain cases.

    With some imagination you might even be able to make a FOIA request that reveals how much time NASA employees spent doing unauthorized activities during regular business hours. The fun part about this is the subject of the investigation has no authority to screen the data before its release as was the case with various components of Climate Gate where they had to be consulted to make sure no “state secrets” were revealed… and started hiding things.

  8. Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 3:10 AM | Permalink

    It’s very entertaining, seeing the inside workings of the organization. Especially to compare it with their claims of pureness, innocence and the pursuit of truth.

    And so our estimation of these scientists goes down, which is sad when they have probably done quite amazing work over their professional lives. I just find it that little bit harder to be confident of their claims.

    And for what? All it would take is admission of a few mistakes, credit where credit is due. These would increase my admiration and respect, not diminish it. I’m sure the same goes for thousands of others.

    • Neil Fisher
      Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 6:10 PM | Permalink

      Probably snippable, but anyway…

      I have said several times that The Team should make an effort to include Steve in their work, rather than ignore and disparage him – as have several others. IMO, Steve is attempting to perform the same service for climate science as epidemiology does for medicine. And just like epidemiologists, he is disparaged by the very same people who would benefit the most by embracing his work, while those with a lesser interest in the outcome find his logic and arguements compelling. As many have noted, this is valuable and needed work – with the most value and need belonging to those who continue to ignore it, alas!

      • Posted Jan 26, 2010 at 1:02 PM | Permalink

        Unfortunately the very reason you think that they should include Steve in their work, which is that their work would lead to the right conclusion, is the same reason they don’t. However, I fear that their definition of what constitutes a right conclusion is vastly different from yours.

  9. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 3:30 AM | Permalink

    Steve, Can we assume that you know the depth of the reference to “tempest inside somebody’s teapot dome”?

    We go back to one of the dark hours of earlier USA Presidencies, when Pres Harding (1921-23) was found to have an administration that offended seriously in permit dealings over a piece of land with oil potential known as Teapot Dome, Wyoming.

    See e.g.

    Murder was allegedly involved and as the URL notes “It also involved the Harding administration’s government reorganization plans, national defense, and a world oil famine that never materialized.”

    In the present context, branding you with a scandal similar to teapot dome might be getting close to actionable. The part that hurts is that once again, it is administration officials who are to blame – and who are trying to shift blame unfairly to you.

    BTW, a few days ago I followed the same path that you relate and I note consistency with your account.

    Steve: I’m just a little bit younger than Hansen and old enough to recognize the allusion to Teapot Dome and probably would have got the president right as well.

    • Craig Loehle
      Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 10:09 AM | Permalink

      Don’t assume that Hansen was being precise. When he gets steamed he mixes metaphors like “jousting with jesters” not quite realizing that the old court jesters would be able to tell the king things (truths) no one else could, as Steve noted at the time.

  10. kmye
    Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 4:05 AM | Permalink

    So, do others also think it’s likely most Team members have switched to private email accounts for their more shady communication by now? Seems to me future FOI for emails will probably not bear fruit like this.

    • johnh
      Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 4:31 AM | Permalink

      That would only work if the firewalls allow access to webmail, the firewall at the last place I worked blocked webmail and photobucket etc, the email client ports were blocked too. Only way around it was a private Blackberry.

    • TerryS
      Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 5:15 AM | Permalink

      Switching to a private email account has its own inherent problems.

      1. Very low level workers might have access to your email for the purpose of diagnosing customer issues over the telephone. These people tend to be low paid so if they abuse their position and are caught, then they do not lose much (ie. they dont lose a highly paid career).

      2. A private email account can be attacked relatively easily. This is because of the sheer volume of logs the service provider has to deal with.

      3. It is unlikely that a private email account will be backed up. Again, this is due the volume of mail.

      4. A service provider will hand over all your records in a heartbeat if they get the appropriate warrant. They will not be concerned at any damage it does to your organisation. When it comes to protecting yourself from such requests you would be on your own.

      5. Things go wrong. When it happens within your organisation you have escalation paths to get that “vital” email for your deadline and you have the power of your position to make it happen. With a service provider you are one voice amongst many and your position and power are useless.

  11. DaveJR
    Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 4:47 AM | Permalink

    Small point, but it should be eye of Sauron, not Saruman!

    • mikelorrey
      Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 5:54 PM | Permalink


  12. dan
    Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 5:33 AM | Permalink

    From the news update at Judicial Watch relating to his matter:

    “And here’s an idea: Instead of insulting those who point out mistakes, maybe NASA scientists should try to engage the public in an open, professional and honest manner. Just a thought.”

    A good thought, indeed.

  13. Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 6:13 AM | Permalink

    Maybe Hansen et al. have planned to raze cities to the ground, as did the book that Hansen has just endorsed,

    and they had to *hide* the plans from CIA or FBI or other deniers of the need to exterminate the mankind.

    • Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 12:10 PM | Permalink

      Hansen is in a category of his own, in so many ways. Without having read the Farnish book, I’d hazard a guess that he and Hansen don’t advocate active genocide, just that world population has to be reduced somehow. The spin put on something like this by Prison Planet is unlikely to be middle of the road. However, as I say, Hansen is in a category of his own, Sauron to Gavin’s Saruman, the epitome of the activist-scientist.

      On a recent thread someone said exactly the same about not being able to give a label to Steve, which got me thinking. Not wanting to push the LOTR analogies too far but … in these emails one senses that Hansen at once recognizes his polar opposite in McIntyre – indeed the true scientist he was meant to be. And Saruman explicitly calls Gandalf a fool (Sauron never speaks) – and vice versa. Later Gandalf emerges as Gandalf the white, taking the older wizard’s place. You have to allow some flexibility with such parallels of course.

      Steve: while this is flattering, let’s dial this back. I’ve never claimed to have done or be doing anything very remarkable. The only remarkable thing is the antagonism arising out from saying some pretty simple things.

      • Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 12:56 PM | Permalink

        OK, you’re Frodo. I don’t care, as long as the job is done.

  14. Vinnster
    Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 6:17 AM | Permalink

    Many thanks Steve for all your hard work. If the Pulitzer group actually were legitimate you would probably win the one for Investigative Journalism.

    Your work and explanation has allowed many of us to achieve something we all at some point wanted to be…A FLY ON THE WALL.

    Outstanding work.

  15. justbeau
    Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 6:41 AM | Permalink

    Gavin warns Steve cannot be outsmarted. This sounds like a compliment and would be, if the aim of the NASA employees was just to be honest brokers of numbers. If they were this, then they would welcome errors being pointed out.
    A difficulty only arises because of their self-granted advocacy role. They are eager to find upward rising temperatures for press releases. Anything which complicates this mission is annoying and makes Hanson feel “besieged.” (During human history, mad despots often find themselves besieged, so besieged is a nice wordchoice.)

    In general, examining the roles of NASA employees is excellent. They are writing personal opinions while on government/taxpayer-funded time. These opinions are distributed to the public via non-official channels for the sole purpose of bypassing proper procedures, so as to be advocates, rather than being simply devoted to the jobs they are being paid to do.

    This is not complicated stuff, its improper conduct by Hansen and Gavin, for two. They should be investigated by NASA and disciplined. NASA could look to claw-back some of their salaries, because while paid by taxpayers, they were doing things they should not be doing, and indeed reveal conscious guilty awareness that they should not be doing these things. They established sub-rosa websites of Real Climate and Jim’s blog so as to unofficially communicate to the public what they could not communicate officially, all the while being paid solely to serve NASA.

    This seems an indicator of arrogance. Jim and Gavin believe rules governing all other Federal workers do not apply to them, because they have a special exemption on grounds of saving the earth.

    • Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 11:27 AM | Permalink

      NASA could look to claw-back some of their salaries, because while paid by taxpayers, they were doing things they should not be doing, and indeed reveal conscious guilty awareness that they should not be doing these things.

      Who all is paying Hansen, anyway? Recall that in 2001, he received $1/4 million from Heinz Foundation. See His hands are literally red with ketchup money!

      Does this make him a shill for Teresa Heinz, or was he just lucky that someone gave him a prize, after the fact, for doing what he thinks is important? If this were a Nobel, even a political one like the Peace Prize, one would automatically assume the latter, but when do prizes like this become compensation for services rendered?

      I don’t know the answer, but am just saying this is an interesting question, particularly in light of these e-mails.

      BTW, where do these e-mails come from? There is no reason they would be part of the CRU leak. Was there a new FOI release that I missed?

      BTW^2, it took me a while to figure it out, but the CU in Steve’s post is not another blog like CA or RC, but Columbia University.

  16. DavidM
    Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 8:09 AM | Permalink

    The first link “Hansen’s Y2K Error” is bad. Has some ancillary stuff on the end.

    This is it

    • DavidM
      Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 8:10 AM | Permalink

      No that’s here again! It’s bad anyway and I don’t know where it is.

  17. Anand Rajan KD
    Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 8:21 AM | Permalink

    I think CA interpreted and presented the NASA error in the context of surface stations events which must have transpired at that point. I think Andy Revkin’s point that the warmers use temperature records to score points and influence policy would have been/is more potent. And then hide behind the small decimal points when pointed out their errors.

    Such transparent people and such non-transparent code and data!

  18. Boris
    Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 9:06 AM | Permalink

    I read this whole post. Now I’m too bored to yawn. Seriously, this is the best thing you have to do with your time? Maybe people would take your contributions more seriously if you didn’t come off as extremely petty and obsessed.

    • Dave Dardinger
      Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 9:26 AM | Permalink

      Re: Boris (Jan 23 09:06),

      Let’s make it simple.

      Steve is minding his own business, checking out temp databases
      Steve finds and points out a moderately important error to NASA.
      NASA climate people get in a tizzy.
      They start figuring out how to fix the error without crediting Steve.
      They do so on NASA time but publish their reactions on their own blogs.
      Eventually all this activity comes out via a FOIA request.
      Steve writes it all up for posterity (on his own time) and posts it on his blog.
      Boris is bored.

      Poor Boris!

      • Eldon Degraw
        Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 12:24 PM | Permalink

        Hate to nitpick, but according to Steve’s own timeline above, he doesn’t find an error and point it out to NASA. He find an error and posts it on his blog.

        If his motives were really altruistic I would’ve expected the email to NASA to come first.

        Steve: I noted the error on August 3 and sent an email to NASA one day later on August 4. I sent the notice to NASA as a matter of courtesy, not altruism.

        • Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 12:32 PM | Permalink

          It’s not important where he first posted it. He was always polite in communications with NASA and they should have expressed gratitude privately and publicly for the correction, however it was expressed. Dardinger’s account is also fine: this is how he pointed out the problem, via his blog.

          The nits are getting smaller and smaller.

        • Eldon Degraw
          Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 12:44 PM | Permalink

          You don’t think there’s a difference between these two scenarios?

          #1: I find a mistake with something you’ve done and I let you know.

          #2: I find a mistake with something you’ve done and announce it to the world. Then I let you know the next day.

        • Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 12:50 PM | Permalink

          But I am an individual, prone to self-pity, and NASA is not.

          Oh, how I get it. Poor, poor NASA.

        • Eldon Degraw
          Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 12:58 PM | Permalink

          If you’re planning to request information from an organization, which of the above scenarios is more likely to get you a “Thanks. Here you go.” and which is more likely to get you a “Get bent!”?

          Steve’s a smart guy. I don’t see how he could’ve been that surprised that NASA weren’t willing to just hand everything over with a smile.

        • Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 1:58 PM | Permalink

          This whole line of argument, where Steve gets blamed for finding errors in his own free time in the work of a massive and well-funded government bureaucracy, and exactly what he did next, brings to mind


        • Eldon Degraw
          Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 2:25 PM | Permalink

          I’m not sure what Steve considers the point of this site, but if the intention is truly to audit the data/conclusions of climate scientists I don’t see how this can be effectively done without a back-and-forth with the scientists themselves. Not being a climate scientist himself it would seem necessary when finding an error to discuss it with scientists to see if there are alternate explanations outside Steve’s area of expertise. While is an exception, I’m sure we can all think of a ton of websites that will grab any news of an error with climate data or conclusions drawn from it (regardless of the severity of the problem) and trumpet the downfall of the AGW cult. In this case, adding fuel to that fire without first giving NASA an attempt to respond seems irresponsible.

          I see a number of comments in this thread and others regarding the surly attitudes of the climate scientists. In this case (I don’t know if posting to the blog before alerting NASA is commonplace here or not), I don’t see how anyone can be surprised at their response was less than thankful.

        • Jere Krischel
          Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 2:41 PM | Permalink

          If NASA is so concerned with public relations that posting a correction to a blog before notifying them is enough to get them into a tizzy, they need a serious professional attitude adjustment. NASA has had so many opportunities to take the moral high ground, but it’s obvious from both the climategate emails and these other FOIA requests that the only person behaving in a calm, considered manner is McIntyre.

        • Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 2:44 PM | Permalink

          I think we have different assumptions about these climate scientists. You think of them as people with hurt feelings and I agree. But I also think they are getting paid to do a job. If someone points out a place they haven’t done the job well enough it’s embarrassing for them. But as professionals they admit they’re wrong, they correct the public record, they apologize for the mistake and they thank the person(s) concerned, publicly and privately.

          That’s the difference I think. We both think of them a fallible human beings. You do not think of them as being paid to do a job.

          Or at least, you do not want us to think of them that way. For I assume that you too are a professional and, unlike me, are being paid for your contributions here.

          Be that as it may, the climate scientists involved in the NASA emails are paid and are meant to act like it. Their employment contracts are a relevant factor to consider, as others have pointed out.

        • stephen richards
          Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 3:37 PM | Permalink

          So Eldon or whatever you name is. You would do a bit of research, for a few hours or days, believe you have found and problem and then immediately get on the blower to tell someone they messed up. Yes?

          Would you not sleep on it, test it with a few colleagues, make sure you have not made an error before embarring yourself or anyone else?

          Oh, perhaps not. You would obviously hide behind a false name, publish immediately and not have to worry about any aftermath.

        • Eldon Degraw
          Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 3:50 PM | Permalink

          I do think of NASA employees as paid to do a job. And I don’t see that job as responding to every accusation made in a blog about their wrongdoing, regardless of how calm and considerate the blog owner is when spreading the news of this alleged error across the internet.

          It’s obvious by NASA’s actions in this case that something was wrong, or at least they believed it was. But I wonder how quickly and openly things could’ve been rectified if the announcement had been made differently. I don’t see anything professional about the way either party handled this matter.

        • Eldon Degraw
          Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 3:58 PM | Permalink

          stephen (if that’s your real name),

          I wouldn’t be doing the research unless I either wanted to help NASA eliminate any problems or embarrass NASA by finding a problem. If the former, I wouldn’t be publicly announcing an alleged error before contacting them in private.

          And I’m sure I would discuss the alleged error with some colleagues. In my case that wouldn’t involve posting it on a public blog for everyone to read including those who have historically misrepresented errors in climate science to fit their agenda.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 4:26 PM | Permalink

          Eldon, I wasn’t doing it for either reason.

          The context was claims by Eli Rabett and Tamino that it was pointless to worry about lousy stations since NASA software could “fix” bad data. I thought this unlikely. In looking at the Detroit Lakes and other sites, I noticed something interesting and posted it at the blog – primarily in the context of the fictitious adjustment algorithm.

          At the time of the first post, I hadn’t quantified the impact. Indeed, it took me a few days to try to estimate the impact since the GISS algorithm itself was not available.

          Nor did the first post even attract attention. I recently looked back at contemporary comments (in editor mode where they are chronological) and the post attracted rather little comment at the time – there was far more blog interest in other contemporary posts about asphalt and individual stations.

          What raised our eyebrows here – and that’s one of the reasons why I re-lived the early thread comments – was the huge changes in the past data while we were watching – without any change notice at the NASA website. At the time, I suggested that NASA should have issued a change notice contemporary with the changes. In my opinion, such a change notice should have reported the 0.15 deg C decrease in post-2000 US temperatures, noted the change in rankings since that was a source of discussion that year, alerted users of the data base that changes at individual stations might be much larger than that (and in either direction). It was open to them to observe, as they did at realclimate, that the impact on the global average was small.

          In cases like this, it’s seldom a good idea for people like Gavin Schmidt to make untrue statements – particularly if they’re annoyed. In my original notice to NASA, I pointed out the change in data provenance; they did not discover that themselves – so it was silly of Gavin Schmidt to mislead people on that point.

          Nor does it seem to me that Hansen’s Lights On Upstairs was a useful contribution. At the time of this jeremiad, there had been relatively little coverage of the matter – a few blogs, that’s all. After Hansen’s temper tantrum, interest increased dramatically. You can’t blame me for that.

        • Jere Krischel
          Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 4:04 PM | Permalink

          How about this idea -> doing research because you were worried that NASA was hiding problems. The amount of spin control NASA engages in for this incident exposes the real problem – NASA being embarrassed isn’t a matter of exposure, it’s a matter of their behavior.

          If they wanted to be proud of something, they’d do it out in the open, rather than scrambling to protect their pre-determined point of view in light of data which contradicts them.

          Frankly, NASA should simply hire McIntyre and put him in charge.

        • liberalbiorealist
          Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 4:22 PM | Permalink

          You have a point, Yet I wonder if you’ve really thought about how it might apply in these circumstances.

          This was of course not the first time Steve had pointed out problems in the analyses and data provided by the scientists at NASA and elsewhere. Suppose his previous criticisms had been taken seriously by the powers that be in the climate science world, and answered respectfully. Then it would make sense for him to apprise them of further errors privately first, and then, after some period of time during which they could correct their errors and save some face, to announce his findings on his website.

          In all honesty, do you really believe that that was the dynamic in play by the time Steve made this particular further observation and criticism? Don’t you think it far more likely that Steve surmised that the scientists at NASA would never acknowledge his own contribution — or perhaps even correct their errors — unless he got out his criticism first, and then, under the threat of great public embarrassment, forced them to correct the error and acknowledge his contribution?

          What is remarkable is how little they would grant Steve even AFTER it was clear how he played such a key role in the discovery and diagnosis of the problem. Imagine how they might have handled it had Steve attempted to do this privately, and how they would have attempted further to diminish his role.

          Unfortunately, these scientists at NASA have taken a well entrenched adversarial role against Steve, and the “discourse”, such as it is, has to be pursued far more in the mode of political disputes than of scientific inquiry.

          Steve: You’re assuming that I wrote the blog post to stake a priority claim or that I was seeking some sort of recognition for this. Maybe those are other people’s motives, but they weren’t mine. I was working on a puzzle – and had been doing so for some time as a review of prior posts shows. I was initially diarizing progress on the puzzle.

        • Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 12:55 PM | Permalink

          IMNSHO, #2 is morally preferable – it’s definitely more important alerting those misled by NASA’s error than informing NASA itself (especially as Steve couldn’t be certain that they’d do anything but ignore the correction). Think of it like finding out that a certain brand of foodstuffs contains toxic bacteria – would you think it more urgent to give that bit of info to the customers who already bought it, or to the producer?

        • Eldon Degraw
          Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 1:01 PM | Permalink

          I don’t see the similarities with your hypothetical scenario at all. There was nothing life threatening here. And if NASA had told Steve to “Get lost” he could’ve made exactly the same post a day later.

        • Greg F
          Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 1:47 PM | Permalink

          Hate to nitpick Eldon, but not a word out of you concerning the moral failings of the NASA staff. Using their paid time and govenment resources for things that are not part of their job. Did you ever hear of theft of services? You instead introduce this red herring.

        • Keith Herbert
          Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 3:34 PM | Permalink

          You seem to have your obligations backward. Climate Audit is not obligated to NASA or any other organization. NASA is obligated to openness with the U.S. public (not sure of their obligation to Canadians).

          If I suspect a problem with any government organization I am free to share it with anyone. There is no specific intent required, certainly not altruism.

          I suspect you are new here because this has been hashed out many times. There are many threads with similar observations regarding how quickly/slowly bloggers alert organizations of suspected problems or errors.

        • thefordprefect
          Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 7:43 PM | Permalink

          KH so you are saying that NASA has to be open, honest, ego-less, etc., but blogs are free to post whatever garbage they like, whenever they like, with intimation that nefarious goings on are happening (leaving it up to other blogs/”news” papers to escalate the intimations to full blown accusations of fraud etc.).

          As others have said.
          The time-line should have been – email NASA with the report of errors. Wait for them to respond (or not). Blog and brag about your discoveries.

          To post accusation (for hysterical impact) before telling the accused hurts the ego (scientists are human after all).


          Steve: You’ve totally misunderstood the sequence. Actually, the post that they took exception to came AFTER they responded – the Leaderboard post. They changed hundreds of thousands of numbers without a change notice or statement on their blog of the effect. One of the reasons for the detailed sequence was to show our surprise. My editorial at the time suggested that they should have issued a clear and thorough change notice – with whatever interpretations they chose. The changes reported in the Leaderboard post came from interpreting their own website changes. They should have provided proper disclosure and change notices at their website instead of later at “personal” websites.

        • Keith Herbert
          Posted Jan 26, 2010 at 3:09 PM | Permalink

          Easy on the hyperbole: “Post whatever garbage they like”, “nefareous goings on”, “hysterical impact”. I don’t think this characterizes this thread or what I have said.

          And are you implying NASA is expected to be, “open, honest, ego-less, etc.,” but is enticed to not be so because of blogs?

          Lastly, at what point are private bloggers obligated to be the watchdogs of science and not merely observers and commenters? There are thousands of blogs expounding on thousands of subjects. Which of them are required to alert government agencies if they suspect problems or errors?

        • thefordprefect
          Posted Jan 26, 2010 at 7:42 PM | Permalink

          All I am pointing out is that you can write total garbage on a blog. This can be taken up by the massed blogs of denialism, with suitable embellishments.

          As a scientist what can you do to counter these statements?

          Start a blog e.g. realclimate? (not acceptable according to posters here).

          Write pear reviewed paper (weeks in preparation, months in review)? Obviously not suitable as am instant response.

          Go to court and claim defamation? Cost, Time and it will not make you friends.

          A lot of denialism seems to be generated through thoughts of costs rather than consideration for facts.

          Steve: Ford, I try very hard to write accurately. If I am in incorrect in any statements, I try to correct them. I welcome criticism. in December 2004, I faced a situation where Mann was publishing “garbage” about our work at a blog in order to preempt articles that had been accepted in the peer reviewed litchurchur. Mann’s articles were based on our Nature submission which had been sent to him on a confidential basis by Nature for the exclusive purpose of submitting a reply to Nature and not for any other purpose, such as writing preemptive blog articles. Plus our GRL-EE articles in 2005 contained analyses not done in our 2004 Nature submission. Climate Audit originated to defend myself. In my opinion, the decision by climate scientists not to engage here ( pressure was placed on people like Rob Wilson whenever he did) was not a prudent decision. In addition, the participation by people like Martin Juckes was surprisingly mean-minded – thus, the coarseness and low culture of the Climategate Letters came as little surprise.

        • Jere Krischel
          Posted Jan 26, 2010 at 7:49 PM | Permalink


    • Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 9:57 AM | Permalink

      Boris writes:

      Maybe people would take your contributions more seriously if you didn’t come off as extremely petty and obsessed.

      Have you read any of the CRU emails? This would be very good advice to provide to members of the hockey team.

  19. Charlie A
    Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 9:34 AM | Permalink


    There’s not much else I can say about the incredible lack of professionalism shown by NASA in this case.

  20. LearDog
    Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 9:46 AM | Permalink

    Steve – what a great piece of work, so amazing to me about the arrogance of these guys. THANKYOU THANKYOU. And it is a completely fair question about their REAL professional jobs, and diverting NASA resources for personal issues (hello? NASA HQ Mgmt? Taxpayer calling…) Because Professionals really don’t get to do whatever they want to do – unsupervised. And when paid by taxpayer – even less so.

    • mikelorrey
      Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 6:56 PM | Permalink


  21. Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 10:06 AM | Permalink

    I do not understand why people are surprised by the NASA response. They have chosen the tactic of appearing omniscient and infallible. Any statement they make about AGW must be true since the are scientists and above the ignorance and fallibility of the ordinary. Peer-reviewed is synonymous with irrefutable. Their entire façade would crumble if they ever had to admit a mistake. The reaction to the recent discovery of obvious howlers in the IPCC AR4 is evidence of that. So if a lone unfunded blogger, from Canada of all places, could find a mistake in their output, they understand that this would reveal the shallowness of their tactics. This could not be allowed so no credit could go to the blogger.

  22. Sleeper
    Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 10:11 AM | Permalink

    Let’s see… if I were the head of GISS and some ‘teapot-domer, no lights on upstairs’ blogger pointed out a ‘meaningless’ error in my data, I would ignore it.

  23. Brooks Hurd
    Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 10:16 AM | Permalink

    Excellent work, Steve.

    The impression that all of this gives me is that Hansen and his team are spending an inordinant amount of time spinning facts and adjusting things to correct problems. All of this effort would be unnecessary if the folks at NASA had spent more time making sure that things were done right in the first place. I have no way of knowing the ratio between the effort that Hansen’s team is spending to fix errors compared with the extra effort they should have spent on the front end to avoid the errors in the first place. If the ratio at NASA is similar to what my team spends addressing customer problems (which resulted from errors that we made), then a reasonable assumption is 4:1 or 5:1. Consequently, I spend quite a bit of time encouraging my team to do it right the first time. Spining and fixing problems after the fact kills productivity. Preventing problems from happening improves productivity.

    Which begs the question: what is Hansen’s manager doing?

  24. Fred
    Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 10:21 AM | Permalink

    snip – piling on

  25. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 11:05 AM | Permalink

    Hmmm, it’s a long time since I read Lord of the Rings. My recollection (from 45 years ago) was that it started off with Saruman becoming aware of something going on in Hobbit-land and sending horsemen to scourge whatever was rustling (I see that they are Nazgul.)

    I guess Saruman’s palantir was sort of a Middle-earth version of the internet. Minutes after Lucia posted up news of the availability of the Climategate letters, Gavin noticed a disturbance in the Shire, just as he had earlier noticed the Y2K post.

    While Tamino calls himself Hansen’s “bulldog”, applying the Middle-Earth teminnology, I think that the more appropriate term would be “Hansen’s orc”.

    • Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 11:15 AM | Permalink

      After Climategate had broken, in the frenetic excitement of that and its long aftermath I felt I had to take some time and read some fiction. You can guess the rest.

      Steve: I got LOTR for Christmas one year when I was 15 or 16 and read it straight through over the next few days. I was a crazy fast reader when I was young.

    • Arthur Dent
      Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 11:20 AM | Permalink

      LOTR/ Although Saruman was aware of happenings in the Shire, it was Bilbo Baggins putting on the ring of power at his 111st birthday that drew the direct attention of Sauron. It was Sauron who dispatched the Nazgul to search for the ring. So the master was Sauron and the servant was Saruman /LOTR

      • Posted Jan 26, 2010 at 11:49 PM | Permalink

        Actually it was the questioning of Gollum which led Sauron to send the Nazgul to the Shire. Bilbo had used the ring relatively often before his Eleventy-First birthday, as is mentioned in the early part of “Fellowship”. He often did so to avoid annoying run-ins with the Sackville-Bagginses.

        Saruman eventually sought to seize the ring for himself, in spite of Sauron. This is more or less played out with the abduction of Merry and Pipping by the Uruks, when they were taken to Isengard instead of Mordor.

    • BradH
      Posted Jan 26, 2010 at 8:39 AM | Permalink


      Are you saying that you haven’t seen the Lord of the Rings movies? If not, you are missing some of the most spectacular movies ever made.

      Get thee to thine video store!

  26. stan
    Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 11:07 AM | Permalink

    snip – piling on

  27. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 11:12 AM | Permalink

    Angry posts will be deleted. I dislike angriness. Plus it is counter-productive to whatever point you are making.

    The facts can speak for themselves without a lot of editorializing. For example, if you are tempted to make angry editorializing comments, re-read my post and see how few adverbs or adjectives I use. (I indulged in the word “sycophantic” on one occasion and thought about whether to permit myself the indulgence.) You don’t need to “editorialize” or “vent” in order to make a point. Use Hansen’s own words or Schmidt’s own words, as I do.

    • Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 11:36 AM | Permalink

      Yes, avoid useless adjectives and adverbs as the great American writer Ernest Hemingway so brilliantly said. (I’m took his advice long ago, as you can clearly see.)

      • JWDougherty
        Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 1:46 AM | Permalink

        “useless,” “great,” “brilliantly,” “clearly…” ;-). Hmmm.

        • Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 8:51 AM | Permalink

          The ironic Brit was mercilessly exposed by his forensic analysis.

          In fact I think all three qualifiers add something in that case. But I will aspire to do better, as always.

    • mpaul
      Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 3:55 PM | Permalink

      That sure sounds like a Haiku challenge to me — we haven’t had one in a while. Here the challenge: summarize Steve’s article in three lines (5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables) – but this time, no adjectives allowed.

      Here is my humble submission:

      Used NASA Resource
      To evade disclosure laws
      Hansen and Schmidt did

      • Dave Dardinger
        Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 4:20 PM | Permalink

        Re: mpaul (Jan 23 15:55),

        After Jim checks it
        Steve Mcintyre will trash it.
        So please hide it first

    • justbeau
      Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 4:29 PM | Permalink

      Hansen uses the word “besieged.” This is how he feels, he tells his subordinates, when informed about an error in the GISS work. Instead of thankful for an opportunity to improve their work and make it even better, Jim feels “besieged.”

      • justbeau
        Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 4:55 PM | Permalink

        A siege mentality seems a common theme, within the CRU/GISS climategate team, through the years. It has diverse manifestations:
        People who ask for data are assued to be interested in generating unfair attacks on their interpretations by non-peer reviewed means.
        Any skeptic must be representing oil companies or other evil-doers.
        Just recently, it has been claimed Hansen may have endorsed a book that deplores the control of fossil fuel interests within democracy. This is tatamount to a rejection of democracy as a form of human governance on grounds of being intrinsically inadequate to counter the global warming evidence GISS claims to be there, in their US data.

        • justbeau
          Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 5:09 PM | Permalink

          While it is too bad there are not more actual Hansen emails that have come available via the CRU leak, clearly Gavin Schmidt is extremely close to his boss Jim Hansen and some of Gavin’s 2009 emails to CRU have been released. These suggest GISS and CRU collaborated closely in some respects.

          So much of the case for Global Warming seems to reside in Hansen’s own teapot dome, more than in the two Canadian teapot domes. With such a heavy onus, no wonder Dr. Hansen feels “besieged.” People who point out errors are seen as unhelpful, democracy itself is hopelessly inadequate to cope with the mortal peril to our planet that Dr. Hanesen believes can be found in the GISS data.

  28. justbeau
    Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 11:36 AM | Permalink

    snip – I asked readers not to use inflammatory or angry language. If you use words like “lapdog”, expect to be snipped in total.

    • Kenneth Fritsch
      Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 12:40 PM | Permalink

      The 2 most important issues coming out of these emails for me were:

      1. NASA totally ignoring the real issue, which was not the effect of the Y2k error on regional or global temperatures, but rather the sloppiness on their work product and lack of quality control and in more general terms what that error meant in terms of the rest of their work product.

      2. Andy Revkin’s, who seems rather well thought of here at CA, apparent need to email the consensus scientists about possible problems with PR from recent developments – like give me material I can use to defend “the position” with my readers.

      Steve: Revkin sincerely thinks that there’s an important issue. So do other serious people. There’s nothing wrong with him talking to Hansen nor should he have to apologize for it.

      • justbeau
        Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 12:45 PM | Permalink

        Thank you. This resembles my snipped point.

      • justbeau
        Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 4:37 PM | Permalink

        Revkin wrote Hansen: “given that quite a few folks (Gore and some environmentalists particularly) have often used the USA temp trends in arguments for action (string of record years), its hard for me to ignore the re-analysis of these annual temperatures…”
        Its hard to know exactly what Revkin is aiming to say; there is ambiguity.
        He may be encouraging more comment from Hansen, as a matter of politeness.
        But he also does not state unequivocally it would be impossible to overlook this revision. This could have been a clearer message of independance.

        Steve: Revkin’s position here seems entirely reasonable to me. He is politely not accepting Hansen’s statement that the US data doesn’t “matter” because only the global “matters”. He’s not obligated to argue about it.

        • justbeau
          Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 4:46 PM | Permalink

          In these few ambiguous words, another possible explanation is Revkin is coaching Hansen, reminding him of what Gore and some environmentalists may expect to hear from him.

          Looked at narrowly, based on just this one snippet, coaching seems an unjustified interpretation. Behind the scenes, on any topic, many reporters must routinely communicate in a courteous, constructive way with sources and help them find the right words or thoughts.

          One would need a lot more emails (data) between Revkin and Hansen or Mann or Gavin to fill out a richer picture of how much this reporter was uncritical in questioning them.

          It may reflect at least a little credit on Revkin that in a CRU email Mann opined Revkin is not thorougly reliable.

      • Ed
        Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 6:43 PM | Permalink

        A few years back, I posted a question to RealClimate about their software quality assurance (SQA) procedures.

        The question was answered by Gavin Schmidt saying they had a one-quarter time FTE funding for SQA – and that was insufficient to do any real SQA of the form used by many of us in industry (e.g. detailed SQA planning, code walk thrus, version control and archiving, test plans and scripts, automated regression testing, and so on).

        He said they relied on other independent groups replicating their body of work. Which suggests that what Steve M did met their expectations for SQA.

        I and others in the s/w industry were surprised at this response. It is akin to suggesting that OpenOffice is the test case for Microsoft Office.

        Apparently they have little in the way of SQA resources assigned to their software intensive data analysis.

    • justbeau
      Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 12:44 PM | Permalink

      Hmmm…mine was not an angry post, actually clinically dispassionate, though the topic is disturbing. I suppose lapdog may seem inflammatory.
      My basic point was the essential enabling role of Mr. Revkin in service to NASA-gaters. One-sided and uncritical news reporting is a public dis-service and deserves careful examination.

      • Kenneth Fritsch
        Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 2:08 PM | Permalink

        I attempted to put a finer point, in an earlier post on another thread here at CA, on Revkin’s involvement and whether he ever wrote a column that referenced Hansen’s reply (actually a no reply) to his email on the question of quality control of US temperatures. Also as an outsider and independent journalist in this matter, I would have expected Revkin to see the real issue of quality control being the essence of the matter (and its implications) and not any small difference in global temperature trends.

        As only an occasional reader of Revkin’s (former) NYT column, I will leave it to his more faithful readers to point to where Revkin made these points and I missed it.

  29. HotRod
    Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 11:41 AM | Permalink

    Boris I was quite bored too, until I got to the end and realised the whole thing was about possible breach of employment contracts, a dull subject, and then I saw the point. And I like the way it was so deadpan.

  30. Anthony Watts
    Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 11:43 AM | Permalink


    I think you have a new title: “climate correspondence historian”

    • thefordprefect
      Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 5:52 PM | Permalink

      I cannot agree more!
      He has certainly lost the “science” blog owner/Science auditor title as there is very little science discussed here since November 2009 – a very sad state of affairs.

      If you’re incapable of debunking the science anymore, just denigrate the scientists – great!

      • Don Wagner
        Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 7:12 PM | Permalink

        You are referring to Hansen here I assume

      • mikelorrey
        Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 7:12 PM | Permalink

        I doubt very much that that is at all Anthony’s point. I see Steve analyzing the CRUtape Letters(tm) in a similar forensical way as he does statistics, establishing timelines, who said what to whom and when, and how the timeline correlates with his own requests and analyses in the past to demonstrate that Team PR spin, that Steve is “inconsequential” and “ignored” is belied by the fact that they evidently get motivated into so much activity to cover up their mistakes and spin excuses by Steve’s blog articles.

      • Hoi Polloi
        Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 7:56 PM | Permalink

        Grapes are sour, eh?

  31. jlc
    Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 11:50 AM | Permalink

    Brilliant post, Steve. A lot of work went into that and the conclusions are obvious.

    Time to shut down GISS along with CRU.

    • P Gosselin
      Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 1:58 PM | Permalink

      “Time to shut down GISS along with CRU.”
      Shut down – that’s going to far.
      Go in with heavy equipment for serious reorganisation – YES.
      Reading Marc Sheppard’s latest piece and this piece tells me the system is definitely broken and unsustainable.

      • mikelorrey
        Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 7:37 PM | Permalink

        [audio src="" /]

        • Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 10:08 AM | Permalink

          What I WROTE after you and Tony started to breath heavily about Detroit Lakes and after the Rabett looked at the meta-information on the NOAA USHCN site, which you and Tony could have done any time, was that it appeared to be a software error:

          “Looks like a lot of the new anonymice were wrong when they thought a photograph alone was important. Of course, we are depending on the station historical record available to everyone through the majic of the INTERTUBES. Still, there does appear to be a problem here, IEHO associated with an imperfect homogeneity adjustment ”

          and indeed it was and you found the source.

          Now, poor Eli gets accused of trying to “hide” the Y2K error, when, what he did was point out that there was such a software problem and where it was lurking. Your statement, prominently placed in a prominent blog which gets sixty gillion views is simply an infamous fabrication. We are shocked.

          Steve: Eli, no one accused you of “trying to ‘hide’ the Y2K error”. You concluded your post by stating that NASA had “fixed” the Detroit Lakes “problem” through their adjustments:

          Eli will let Tony Watts have the last word, because at least he got it right:

          But hey, they can “fix” the problem with math and adjustments to the temperature record.

          If your belief at the time was that NASA could not “fix” inhomogeneities through their software, then I’m puzzled by the conclusion to your post. I note that, in contemporary comments at Tamino (where you posted at the time), you did not state that you believed that NASA software was incapable of “fixing” such inhomogeneities. Nor, to my knowledge, did you write to NASA notifying them that you had observed defects in their software or notify them of what those defects were. FYI, Reto Ruedy states in the GISS emails that their software could not “fix” inhomogeneities – perhaps you could convey this to Tamino’s readers, together with a clarification that you do not believe that NASA software can “fix” inhomogeneities.

        • gosh
          Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 10:40 AM | Permalink

          Poor Eli.

        • Dominic
          Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 11:13 AM | Permalink

          What these GISS emails have in common with the UEA emails is the general level of sloppiness about code quality and data retention. Coming from an academic background (PhD in theoretical physics) I can well understand this. It took me a few years in industry to learn the importance of version control, comments, test-cases, regular backups, being able to roll back changes.

          I was appalled to read about how they just overwrote all of the old raw data with the new without no real discussion of the implications (at least none in the email trail).

          These guys are like a group of academics who half understand that what they are doing is not professional quality but are just too arrogant and powerful to be told.

  32. Carbon-based life form
    Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 11:52 AM | Permalink

    If you are too bored to be bothered with these intrigues, just trot back to Natasha and see if you can finally outsmart Moose and Squirrel before Fearless Leader upbraids you for your lack of success.

    • Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 12:08 PM | Permalink

      Re: Carbon-based life form (Jan 23 11:52), love the name.

      • Pat Frank
        Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 4:09 PM | Permalink

        “Carbon-based life form” comes from Saturday Night Live, I think; from the Coneheads skit. Uttered by Mr. Conehead (Dan Akroyd).

        They were a family of space aliens marooned on Earth, and when questioned about their cone-shaped heads and weird get-up would claim, credibly it seemed, to be from France. Made sense to me.

  33. John in L du B
    Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 1:03 PM | Permalink

    What concerns me is that NASA top management seems to see no need to respond in any way to any of this. The reason that exists at all is because GISS appears to have no discernible QA system in place, otherwise they’d be catching these things themselves, it would be easy to answer questions about how adjustments are made and Hansen wouldn’t be thinking “…that we should save the results of the analyses at least once a year, so we will have a record of how they change.” Like that’s good enough. Maybe they should be electronically archiving every update with reviewed and authorized change controls.

    Look. This is an agency that sends people into space. That is a risky business. People’s lives are on the line as well as a lot of public money. Maybe the climate database isn’t such a risky issue but they are proposing some serious public expenditure as appropriate public response to theirr research. Lax QA in one part of the organization reflect on the whole. And I don’t think it enhances the public view of the organization in the age of terror when a director of a whole division actually endorses a publication which recommends destroying civilization as we know it even using sabatoge if necessay.

    Regarding the Pulitzer for Steve, he certainly deserves one but I don’t think he’s eligible yet. From the Pulitzer website:

    5. Must I be a U.S. citizen to apply for a Pulitzer Prize?
    Only U.S. citizens are eligible to apply for the Prizes in Letters, Drama and Music (with the exception of the History category in Letters where the book must be a history of the United States but the author may be of any nationality). For the Journalism competition, entrants may be of any nationality but work must have appeared in a U.S. newspaper published at least once a week, on a newspaper’s Web site or on an online news organization’s Web site. (Please also see FAQ #10)

    10. What online news sites are eligible for the journalism competition?
    Entries for journalism awards must be based on material coming from a text-based United States newspaper or online news site that publishes at least weekly during the calendar year and that adheres to the highest journalistic principles. Magazines and broadcast media, and their respective Web sites, are not eligible. Read the eligibility announcement of December 2009.

    You have to start writing a weekly column for US newspaper Steve or maybe “A History of Adjustments in the US Temperature Database”. In your spare time maybe? As our first year Math professor told us, “There are 24 hours in a day and if that isn’t enough there is always the night”.

  34. Bernie
    Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 1:20 PM | Permalink

    Excellent and very coherent reconstruction. What struck me when I read these emails was the strange interaction – or more precisely non-interaction – with Tom Karl’s organization who must own some responsibility surely for the error or was it purely a GIS screw up?

    Steve: Purely GISS

  35. John Norris
    Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 1:48 PM | Permalink

    “The facts can speak for themselves without a lot of editorializing.”

    To me, that is the sad part about this. Reading CA and RC over the last several years you could see the divide in the assessment of papers and data – a divide where RC regularly tried to point out that CA and others are just amateurs. Steve took a stand and posted his assessment of the facts and whether specific data really led to the conclusions that GISS, CRU, and IPCC were taking it to.

    Now there are all these internal GISS and CRU e-mails available that support Steve’s blog posts. To anyone following the whole sequence it has to be clear – Steve has been very correct in his posts and the pro’s have provided less then full disclosure in their clarifying responses.

    The facts speak clearly to me but somehow these pro’s still have jobs. Their management must be looking past the unprofessional behavior in the e-mails, the falsification of events, and the technical ass-whooping that CA and other’s have done. They must not see the whole picture. Even if their management is incompetent their own self preservation would drive them to act.

  36. oMan
    Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 1:52 PM | Permalink

    Steve: Many thanks for the excellent work, the painstaking and clear chronology/reconstruction, and the highly professional tone. This contrasts strikingly with the behavior of the other camp.

    I like your coinage: “angriness.” It is much more musical than “anger.”

  37. David P
    Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 2:37 PM | Permalink

    The “Eye of Sauron” analogy holds up well as used, here, but in other other escapades in the Climate Wars, Gavin’s sidekick role lends itself to the character of Grima Wormtongue, Sauroman’s #2.

  38. UpNorthOutWest
    Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 2:37 PM | Permalink

    Yet another post by Steve that makes me chuckle at how those who attack him like to say he “takes things out of context.”

    Who’s providing context here and who avoids context like the plague?

    • Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 2:58 PM | Permalink

      Yes, where are the posts from RC and its ilk that provide an alternative, detailed chronology, putting the emails in a better light? It’s astounding how far they make Steve run round the houses rather than act professionally, either then or now.

  39. kramer
    Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 2:44 PM | Permalink

    What exactly does “homogenization” do to temperature data? Is it the process of taking raw temp data from a rural site and mathematically combining it with data from a nearby station with warming to make the rural data have a warming trend?

    And has the raw US temperature data still available or has it been adjusted?

    • Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 3:13 PM | Permalink

      It often seems to have that effect.

      According to a 10/22/09 readme.txt file at <a href = "", raw and intermediate USHCN data are now available on that ftp site, along with the “final” homogenized and pasteurized data. I’m no expert, but I think this is a new development.

      BTW, there are some new but unexplained files dated 1/13/10 on the same site with interesting names like ushcn-surfacestations-ratings-1-2.txt, -3-4-5.txt, etc. I’ve alerted Anthony on his Tips page.

    • Craig Loehle
      Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 3:16 PM | Permalink

      “homogenization” is supposed to remove inhomogeneities, which are effects due to irrelevant things like station moves. Unfortunately, it has been shown repeatedly (at CA and WUWT and other places) that perfectly good rural sites are adjusted for no particular reason or to match urban sites, and this does not seem to bother the GISS (or CRU) people at all.

    • Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 3:42 PM | Permalink

      The official beginner’s guide to USHCN adjustments is at The details are OT on this thread, but kramer should use the CA search engine to find lots of prior discussion of these USHCN adjustments.

      • kramer
        Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 6:20 PM | Permalink

        Thanks Hu and Craig for the information.

  40. Kate
    Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 3:06 PM | Permalink

    From NASA website, updated yesterday:

  41. Kate
    Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 3:11 PM | Permalink

    My previous link has Gavin Schmidt’s explanation of data handling.

    The website asks us for feedback:

    • Charlie A
      Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 7:20 PM | Permalink

      You can also send feedback via the forms at the bottom of most pages.

      For example, if you go to the bottom of the page you can send notes to the webpage owner about the various statements NASA makes about evidence.

      They did remove the “evidence” of global warming of the Himalayan Glaciers disappearing by 2030 (yes, NASA took the erroneous 2035 and moved it forward 5 years). But they still have lots of bogus statements.

      One I have recently submitted feedback on is “Global surface air temperatures rose three-quarters of a degree Celsius (almost one and a half degrees Fahrenheit) in the last century, but at twice that amount in the past 50 years.”

      NASA gives as a reference for this statement IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, Summary for Policymakers, p 5, which of course does not make this outrageous claim.

      I have made numerous requests for correction to the evidence and key indicators pages since August. Some have been accepted. Some have been rejected. Some have been ignored. One that has been ignored is my observation that their system for reviewing the quality of information is clearly inadequate. The NASA responses have the general tone of “OK, ok, we’ll make that specific correction to improve the clarity, but we don’t have any problem. Keep moving. Nothing to look at”.

      On December 7th, I appealed the rejection of several of my requests for correction submitted last August.

      The 30 working day time limit for a response has expired, but so far NASA has not even been able to acknowledge receipt of my January 17th e-mail reminding them of the deadline and requesting a status update.

      I will again send a request for status of my appeal tomorrow, and then start looking at alternative ways of getting NASA to comply with their own Quality of Information Guidelines.

      This comment is part of my new strategy of seeking additional publicity with the hope that this will convince them that they cannot just ignore their own Quality of Information Guidelines.

  42. gallier2
    Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 3:38 PM | Permalink

    We should not forget that this is about the agency that lost also the original moon TV-footage and a lot of other things. If one remembers, as Richard Feinman discovered, with what sloppiness the failure risk of shuttle launches were calculated, one should not be surprised on the lightness with which climate data is handled.

  43. Jimchip
    Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 3:52 PM | Permalink

    One comment regarding the end of the essay:

    “But it’s not hard to speculate on why Hansen chose to publish the article at his “personal” website…
    The most plausible explanation for Sato wanting to “hide” Lights Out was presumably to avoid the article being deemed to require NASA peer as required for all NASA work product, a classification that Hansen seems to want to avoid in this case….In any event, the emails show that either Lights Out Upstairs was NASA work product (and not personal) or that NASA employees were diverted from NASA business to provide personal services for their boss.”

    A common theme has been the scientists also being involved in concerns regarding political and journalistic reports and needing to publicly respond to critics outside of peer review. One common tactic has been to use sites like realclimate or Hansen’s CU for rapid dissemination in response to a perceived crisis.

    Hansen’s essay probably was inappropriate by NASA standards but I think the goal was to quickly to have ‘something to point to” for Revkin and others. Realclimate is used frequently for that and, on one occasion, it even caused a paper rejection because of prior publication on rc.

    • mpaul
      Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 4:57 PM | Permalink

      “Hansen’s essay probably was inappropriate by NASA standards but I think the goal was to quickly to have ’something to point to” for Revkin and others.”

      OK, said another way:

      Enron’s earnings statement was probably inappropriate by GAAP standards, but I think the goal was to quickly have ‘something to point to’ for analysts and others.

  44. Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 3:57 PM | Permalink

    I’m dumbfounded by the way these people seem to handle their data. I would have thought that the process would be something straightforward as this:
    1) Keep the original “raw” data (“raw” by definition means: don’t change it)
    2) Maintain software for doing filtering and corrections
    3) Regenerate corrected data and visualisations every time the software changes
    4) Make original data, corrected data, and software available for scientific review

    It shouldn’t be a big issue to work like this. Even the people running the Large Hadron Collider with their huge amounts of data seem to be able to make their data available.

  45. dennis
    Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 4:01 PM | Permalink

    Does anyone have the correct link to Steve’s post “Hansen’s Y2K Error”? (the one listed in todays blog entry “NASA – hide this after…” comes up empty)

    Steve: Fixed.

  46. Charlie A
    Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 4:22 PM | Permalink

    Please keep this as the lead post on your blog for a couple of weeks.

    My prediction is that this incident will come to have nearly as big of an impact as the CRU Climategate stuff. The behavior of NASA described in the headpost is a nicely self-contained description of the core problem, encapsulated in a single incident that is tightly constrained in both subject matter and in time.

    This is an example of malfeasance that is easy to follow and understand, even if one has no prior knowledge of climate science or the people involved. This is truly the smoking gun from a coverup.

    As with many other events, it is not the importance of the initial problem, but what is disclosed about character and intentions by the actions taken in response and coverup.

    • Roger Knights
      Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 10:23 PM | Permalink

      “As with many other events, it is not the importance of the initial problem, but what is disclosed about character and intentions by the actions taken in response and coverup.”

      I agree 100% and I urge that this point be stressed in talking to the press or in attempting to persuade the public. These highly technical matters are hard for the public to follow and easy for shameless sophists to obfuscate, so the details of the event should NOT be the focus. Any attempt by defenders to shift the discussion to them should not inveigle us attackers into following them down the rabbit hole. We should reiterate that the “damning” point is the shabby reaction to Steve’s critique.

  47. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 4:45 PM | Permalink

    As I noted in the post, if NASA’s FOI response is complete, that Hansen should feel “besieged” by the few inquiries attested in this record is one of the more notable aspects of the incident. Lucia would tell him: “put on your big boy pants”. Maybe there were hundreds of emails and the FOI record is incomplete. (But more likely he needs to listen to Lucia.)

  48. theduke
    Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 5:36 PM | Permalink

    @ Eldon Degraw at 2:25 pm:

    You seem completely unaware of the history of this website and the difficulty Steve has had communicating with climate scientists since his initial contacts with Mann in 2003 and the ensuing controversy in the years that followed. My recollection as one who has has read the posts regularly here and posted comments occasionally for nearly three years is that little or no meaningful cooperation was ever forthcoming from nearly all those scientists who might be said to be believers in Mann and his work and/or the work product of the IPCC. Steve represented a danger to them from day one. You can’t blame Steve for the lack of cooperation by others.

    You need to do some reading in the archives.

    • Eldon Degraw
      Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 8:42 PM | Permalink

      As a new reader to this blog, I see NASA not cooperating with Steve and Steve giving them the finger by presenting NASA’s alleged errors to the public before allowing NASA to respond. I don’t see how three years of NASA providing little to no cooperation excuses this unprofessional behavior.

      • Charlie A
        Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 9:17 PM | Permalink

        Steve M is presenting to us the written words of the NASA people. They e-mailed what they e-mailed.

        Is Steve McIntyre smearing NASA by calling attention to what they wrote?

        • Eldon Degraw
          Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 9:49 PM | Permalink

          I haven’t read through all his past FOI posts, but in this case I would say yes. Steve’s post seems to be suggesting that NASA employees allegedly used their time at the office to conduct unofficial business. I would expect anyone making this claim to at least make sure they knew exactly what NASA’s office policies were. Not everyone has a traditional 9 to 5 schedule. As an example, though I’m an industrial designer, not a climate scientist, we often work 12+ hour days in my office so no one bats an eye at the occasional personal business on company time.

        • justbeau
          Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 9:55 PM | Permalink

          Eldon, some NASA employees spend vast numbers of hours communicating by non-government web sites. Its not merely spending a few hours on personal business.
          They should communicate their views appropriately via the NASA web site. There is a right way open to them and they are merely trying to circumvent their own administrative requirements by sub-rosa arrangements.

        • Eldon Degraw
          Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 10:16 PM | Permalink

          Again, without knowing how many hours they spend, or are required to spend, on company business those numbers are meaningless.

          I’m also not surprised they would go through less official channels to respond to a blog post, even one from Steve McIntyre.

      • Craig Loehle
        Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 9:26 PM | Permalink

        If you found a big goof in the consumer price index or crime statistics, would you believe that the government office in question would be likely to take a personal interest in your email and fix it, and that you should be worried about embarassing someone? Or would you simply publish your findings? In fact, Steve could have kept this private and published a journal article pointing out the error, and this would have been quite fair game.

      • Jimchip
        Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 9:29 PM | Permalink

        Re: Eldon Degraw (Jan 24 20:42),

        Eldon, have a look at FOIed Emails…here. Briefly, Steve gave ’em chances.

        • Eldon Degraw
          Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 9:41 PM | Permalink

          But according to Steve M’s own time line, that chance was after he’d already made the alleged error public on his blog.

        • justbeau
          Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 9:49 PM | Permalink

          The alleged error was confirmed to be a real error.
          NASA employees should be pleased when outside reviewers help them catch errors in their work. It helps them be even smarter.

  49. justbeau
    Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 5:51 PM | Permalink

    I was reading CRU emails and noticed one from John Holdren very supportive of Michael Mann and interesting in terms of its reasonings.

  50. Robert
    Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 5:57 PM | Permalink

    Thanks again for putting things in context Steve. It really exposes the unwillingness of Hansen to accept any criticism of his work even if there are obvious errors, and the “attack dog” strategy to discredit those who dare. I also had a hearty laugh when you referred to Gavin Schmidt as the “eye of Saruman”- too funny! Keep up the good work.

  51. Keith
    Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 7:00 PM | Permalink

    I must admit to coming in late to the whole question of data integrity, but as a recently retired IT person, it seems obvious in this episode that NASA has not employed any form of data management practices : archiving, backup, transaction logging, security logging. I’m not sure how long NASA has been in the IT business, but this episode makes them look like the worst sort of hobbyist (even hobbyists usually don’t throw anything away). I must say that we have come to the bottom of the barrel, when data, collected and compiled at great cost is not subject to any apparent management or security. The people of america, as taxpayers, have the right to know why valuable data that took possibly years to compile, could so easily be trashed seemingly within the space of a couple of days, and more tellingly, no one could “remember” what manipulations they had performed on it. Having once worked within a statistical organisation, I can say that accidents do happen… but we always ALWAYS had backups and recovery plans when this type of wholesale data reprofiling was even thought about, much less attempted.
    Having said that, it is curious that email logs and holdings appear to function quite well within NASA, possibly because the infrastructure was set up and maintained beyond the managment scope of GISS, I suspect.
    Difference in approach is considerable, to say the least.

    • Judith Curry
      Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 11:53 AM | Permalink

      Keith, actually NASA has a very comprehensive data archival and management system for its satellite data, probably the best data system in the climate business (EOSDIS). The GISS group and the surface temperature records are managed by the GISS group and not the larger NASA Earth Observing System Data Information Services (EOSDIS).

  52. Jsco
    Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 7:54 PM | Permalink

    “By the way, I think that we should save the results of the analyses at least once a year, so we will have a record of how they change.”

    To have to explicitly make this suggestion speaks louder to me than any other single statement. When even this most basic of best practice is lacking, small hope anyone will ever “remember” how/why things were adjusted.


  53. Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 8:09 PM | Permalink

    It’s interesting to me that Hansen would wonder back then whether GISS had ever said 1998 was the warmest, and, now that GISS has added the 2009 annual average for the “lower 48,” the figures have changed again.

    1998 and 2006 are tied for first place, as they were a few days ago when I last looked, before the 2009 figure was added. 1934 is next, which puts it in third place.

    How do these changes in the calculated averages occur? Hansen wanted to say back then that his 2001 paper was definitive–1998 and 1934 were in a virtual “tie,” with 1934 insignificantly “ahead.”

    Well are they in a tie now? The latest annual mean for 1998 and 2006 is “1.31,” (it was 1.29) while 1934 is “1.22” (it was 1.26).

    • Jimchip
      Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 8:16 PM | Permalink

      Re: Micajah (Jan 23 20:09),

      In a previous discusion (FOIed Hansen Y2K) a quote from one email was something like ‘we should round to the nearest 0.1 like everyone else’.

      The media likes superlatives, including ‘warmest’, and Hansen, et al, try hard to comply, whether the claims are scientifically significant or not.

      • Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 8:59 PM | Permalink

        Perhaps rounding to the nearest tenth would be appropriate, but it wouldn’t apparently help here. Back in August 2007, the anomaly for 1934 was shown as 1.25, while 1998 was 1.23, and 2006 was 1.13:

        That was a “virtual tie,” but now 2006 is diffeent by almost two-tenths compared to then, and 1998 and 1934 are now separated by one-tenth if you round off.

        Whatever the real precision, what puzzles me is how the annual mean could change. If you once say the anomaly is “1.whatever” how can you come back later and say it’s not? Does the program produce different results each time it’s run in a sort of chaotic manner?

        • Jimchip
          Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 10:27 AM | Permalink

          Re: Micajah (Jan 23 20:59),

          I’ll agree with your ‘puzzles’. Here is NASA’s latest. Not peer-reviewed, AFAIK.

          I thought that article was funny although obviously biased.

          Just the latest research using the latest ‘up to date’ data. Wrt your questions, “how can you come back later and say it’s not? Does the program produce different results each time it’s run in a sort of chaotic manner?”, there’s even, now, answer:

          “It [NASA/GISS] also provides information on how to repeat its analysis for armchair climatologists and skeptics playing along at home”

          Gavin’s not ‘armchair’…He sits at his desk and blogs

        • Dave
          Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 4:10 PM | Permalink

          It would appear that the anomaly is calculated from a base temperature, which is in turn being recalculated each time they release a new model/set of figures. If that’s the case, you’d expect it to change, wouldn’t you?

        • RomanM
          Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 4:46 PM | Permalink

          Re: Dave (Jan 25 16:10),

          The anomalies for GISS are typically calculated relative to the average temperatures for the 1951 to 1980 time period. Why would you expect that base to change in any substantial fashion on a recalculation in 2010?

  54. bmcburney
    Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 8:39 PM | Permalink

    One thing that surprised me was that Hansen seems unfamilar with CA or Steve McIntyre until this incident. I would have thought that by 2007 everyone even slightly interested in “Climate Science” would be somewhat familiar with both. Certainly, many other players (the CRU boys, Mann, Gavin and most others) were aware of CA. But RR evidently needed to explain it all (inaccurately, disingenuously) to Hansen. What kind of bubble does Hansen inhabit?

    • Jimchip
      Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 8:48 PM | Permalink

      Re: bmcburney (Jan 23 20:39),

      Hansen does seem to be disengaged. His main man, Gavin Schmidt, might not have been updating JEH. I perceive lots of delegation in order to free up the boss for more important ‘duties’.

      • theduke
        Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 10:10 PM | Permalink

        Hansen knew what was going on. To argue the contrary would be to suggest that he was not fully aware of the Congressional hearings in 2006 that featured the Mann-M&M controversy. Hansen is a fanatic. Fanatics devour all details that affect the cause.

        He may have feigned ignorance of M&M for public consumption in 2007, but I’m not buying it. He’s a public servant out on the edge and not unaware of what might happen to him if he violates the law in any number of ways. There were several cases of emails providing damning evidence during the Clinton administration in the 1990s. Hansen could not have been unaware of this.

        He’s a drama queen who when he goes public thinks he’s writing the perfect script for himself. The only thing that can be said in his defense is that he actually believes in the things he professes to believe in and is acting on those beliefs, however insubstantial the evidence to support those beliefs may be.

        • Jimchip
          Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 11:00 PM | Permalink

          Re: theduke (Jan 23 22:10),

          Yes but the original comment was “unfamiliar with”. He knew but CA and McIntyre were small potatoes, not worth much time. Gavin encouraged that belief, I bet. I wouldn’t be surprised if Hansen is crisis oriented. He may get totally involved and once the crisis has been dealt with he ‘forgets about it’.

          He was ‘hands-off’ about the “light on upstairs” essay. Schmunk, Ruedy, Sato and Darrell Cain all get mobilized following Gavin’s alert. JEH does his thing, they pass the hot potato. Reto had to remind JEH who McIntyre is.

          Crisis passes. I’ll stick with ‘disengaged’, lot’s of delegation, more important ‘duties’. Too high up to be bothered with the small stuff.

        • theduke
          Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 12:29 AM | Permalink

          You are free to take James Hansen at his word. I’m free to be incredulous.

          I think you need to examine Hansen’s public statements going back to 1988. In depth. I think you need to review the Congressional hearings in 2006 as they relate to any testimony Hansen has given before Congressional Committees.

          As Casey Stengel once said, “You could look it up.”

  55. Norm in Calgary
    Posted Jan 23, 2010 at 11:47 PM | Permalink

    OT (maybe).

    Has anyone ever challenged Hansen on his being in a position of conflict? I mean the guy adjusts the data, bitches about it yet we’re supposed to think he’s reporting it as a neutral scientist. If this was business he’d be in court defending his manipulating of data for personal gain!

  56. Mike Smith
    Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 12:05 AM | Permalink

    So Eldon,
    The CRU lied about warming, NASA lied about warming, IPCC lied about warming, Nature did too, Real Climate kept up the lie and fed “Journalists” misinformation (which they stuffed their bellies with as though it were a last meal), and they all tried their level best to discredit Steve at every opportunity on a personal and professional level, but Steve should be upbraided for not being nicer while they did it.

    Is that about it in a nutshell?

  57. Fredrik in Sweden
    Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 3:12 AM | Permalink

    Interesting point – the view of Steve at NASA:

    “Steve is the person who appointed himself auditor of all web sites and organizations that have to do with global warming in order to debunk this “hoax”. He is maintaining a blog – a website called , a site containing among justified concerns (caveats that we stress in all our papers) obvious fabrications and vicious attacks … I expect only a minor effect since the offsets average out to ~0 over all USHCN stations”.

    Has Steve ever claimed to be out to debunk any “hoax”?

  58. Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 11:14 AM | Permalink

    Eli Rabett

    Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 10:08 AM

    What I WROTE …

    “ … Still, there does appear to be a problem here, IEHO associated with an imperfect homogeneity adjustment

    Eli … point[s] out that there was such a software problem and where it was lurking.

    Trying to float the the idea (conflate for us):
    a) ‘an imperfect algorithm’ versus the
    b) ‘implementation of an algorithm’ i.e. a software error (which means, an error in ‘coding’ regardless of the functionality/accuracy of the algorithm attempted to be coded)?

    (Retroactive commenting, ‘extend and amend’; a corrigendum being offered here?)



  59. ad
    Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 6:09 PM | Permalink

    I am puzzled by the constant switching between “Lights OUT upstairs” and “Lights ON upstairs”. What does it mean?

    Also, Sato says quite clearly she simply doesn’t know HOW to send it out to Hansen’s list. There doesn’t seem to be any great mystery over that.

    Steve: In your second point, you’re changing the point. The problematic words were “if you don’t want to…” Why wouldn’t she “want” to? If Hansen is doing this for his “personal” webpage, should NASA staff be involved?

  60. dp
    Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 11:01 PM | Permalink

    I get the sense that “hide it” in this usage is equivalent to burying a story in the middle of a newspaper’s Section D, or to report it on a weekend edition where few will see it. It’s where things like corrections and apologies go – never the front page.

    In the case of burying a story on the web, one puts the link in an unlikely/seldom visited page. It’s there, but not obvious. You can’t be blamed for not publishing it, but you also don’t set off alarms.

    Rather like posting in a blog that a miracle has occurred.

  61. D. D. Freund
    Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 11:16 PM | Permalink

    I have been unable to understand McI’s earlier post on “Hansen’s Y2K problem”, in particular the graphs and how they show a change to raw data in 2000. I can see the abrupt jump, but there are other such jumps earlier. Could someone please explain to me what I am missing, or point me to an existing elaboration of this matter?

    • Charlie A
      Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 1:25 AM | Permalink

      @ D.D. Freund — a simple summary is this —

      GISS does their temperature analysis using data from NOAA.

      NOAA has several versions of the data, with various types of corrections added in.

      As of January 2000, GISS inadvertently started using a dataset with a different set of corrections.

      The difference between the two data sets for an individual station is tyipically 1 degree C, but can be much larger.

      GISS, as of August 2007 had not yet noticed that they were using a different NOAA data set from Jan 2000 onward than the one they had been using prior to January 2000.

      Since the change of datasets affected some station records in one direction and other stations in the other, on the average, much of the error canceled out. The net effect was a step change upward of about 0.18 degree C in the average temperature of the lower 48 states as of January 1, 2000.

      The response of GISS was to say “it doesn’t matter, since the USA is only 2% of the total area of the world and this small error has no effect on the global average temperature calculations”.

      They also responded by changing all of their data PRIOR to 2000. One would assume that they would correct all data after Jan 2000 to be correct, but they chose to adjust historical data to match the inadvertently revised calculations used after January 2000.

      The history of this error, and they it went undetected for 7 years calls into question the data quality checks and the homogeneity checks of GISS.

      • D. D. Freund
        Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 12:58 PM | Permalink

        Thank you for this reply. However, I was not in doubt about the conclusions drawn or their significance. I wanted to understand more clearly how Steve deduced this error from the graphs presented. Am I correct in thinking that my attention should be drawn to the lower graphs, which (I think) might show that the homogenisation algorithms flatten the output curve except for the remaining jump at Y2K?

        • Jimchip
          Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 1:56 PM | Permalink

          Re: D. D. Freund (Jan 25 12:58),

          03 Aug 2007 p. 146 (Gavin to Reto)
          I think that the suggestion you have for fixing it is a better idea than what is being done now, though possibly it might make more sense to correct the later GHCN data rather than the earlier USHCN numbers (that doesn’t make a difference to the trend, 0f course)…

          Briefly, they stitched two time series data collections together at 2000 and there was a glitch.
          Then, what does one do?

  62. pman
    Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 12:49 PM | Permalink


    You say:

    “Within a few hours (13:21 Eastern), NASA blogger Gavin Schmidt, like the eye of Saruman ever alert to the smallest rustling in the blogosphere, noticed the CA post and immediately notified NASA employee Reto Ruety :”

    Was this the first time that Reto became aware of the problem?

  63. Posted Jan 26, 2010 at 12:56 PM | Permalink

    Steve, you appear to suffer from convenient dyslexia. To reprise

    1. You and Watts were going on about how there were physical/instrumental problems with Detroit Lakes

    2. There was a fair amount of metadata available, which showed that there probably was not a physical/instrumental problem

    3. The next place to look was the homogeneity adjustments, and that turned out to be the problem.

    4. Therefore, what Watts had sarcastically written: “But hey, they can “fix” the problem with math and adjustments to the temperature record.” was actually true, and it was.

    See how easy that is.

    Steve: Puh-leeze. While you were making trenchcoat-flasher remarks ( at your blog, I was examining GISS adjustment procedures, long before the post identifying Hansen’s Y2K error. The issue that I was analysing was whether Hansen’s algorithm was capable of adjusting for inhomogeneity – something that seemed highly implausible. As I observed in my posts at the time, the failure of the Hansen algorithm to catch the Y2K error showed – contrary to your claims – that their algorithm was incapable of doing such a fix. As authority for the falseness of your point 4, I refer to Reto Ruedy’s statement in the GISS Letters:

    I had no idea what code you are referring to until I learned from your article “Hansen’s Y2K Error (which should really be Reto’s Y2K error) that GISS is in possession of some magical software that is able to “fix” the defects in surface data. No wonder you would like to get your hands on that – so would I. Unfortunately your source totally misled you in that respect.

    It is absurd that you continue to mislead people that GISS software was capable of fixing defects in surface data, when even GISS themselves hold no such belief in the existence of the “magical software” that you believe in.

  64. Posted Jan 26, 2010 at 1:02 PM | Permalink

    To spare everyone another round of parsing from Steve. The problem turned out to be how different sets of USHCN data corrected for inhomogeneity were incorporated into GISSTEMP. As far as Eli is concerned this is a problem with the inhomogeneity adjustments.

    • thisisnotgoodtogo
      Posted Nov 15, 2010 at 1:14 PM | Permalink

      They incorporated year 3000 into the NASA GISS yearly temperature graph by the usual method one might suppose.

      That’s what it says right now…1960,1980, 3000

  65. thisisnotgoodtogo
    Posted Nov 15, 2010 at 1:37 PM | Permalink

    Sorry…it appears to be a 3, but it is just weird printing with a section missing, making a 2 look like a 3.

8 Trackbacks

  1. […] Steve McIntyre Climate Audit, January 23, […]

  2. By Climategate, what is going on? - EcoWho on Jan 23, 2010 at 5:48 AM

    […] NASA: 'Hide this after Jim checks it' […]

  3. By Quote if the week #27 « Watts Up With That? on Jan 23, 2010 at 2:18 PM

    […] on over to Climate Audit and read this gem by Steve […]

  4. By Petty Petty Puzzler « The Policy Lass on Jan 23, 2010 at 8:35 PM

    […] a comment » Over at Climate Audit, McIntyre has a post on a line from one of the EA emails.  It’s all about the Y2K correction and the comment that someone should “hide” […]

  5. By James Hansen: The End Times « CO2 Realist on Jan 23, 2010 at 11:13 PM

    […] And Hansen’s motives?  I think he’s too busy promoting agendas rather than making sure our temperature database is correct.  See McIntyre here. […]

  6. […] Uppdatering: En intressant inblick i hur James Hansen fungerar innanför NASA:s väggar när han stöter på motstånd, som i detta fall från Steve McIntyre. […]

  7. […] CRU emails to better understand how a small group of climate scientists manage the news:  “NASA: ‘Hide this after Jim checks it’”, Steve McIntyre, Climate Audit, 23 January […]

  8. By Global Warming Science « Ditelhead's Blog on Oct 14, 2010 at 11:42 PM

    […] satellites went unchecked and the NOAA tries to doge FOI requests. Steve McIntyre discovered the Y2K bug in GISS data. A few months later they found more slipshod work from the house of Hansen. Data […]

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