Saransk, Russia – December 12, 2015: A computer screen shows details of NOAA main page on its web site in Saransk, Russia, on December 12 2015. Selective focus. Credit: g0d4ather/Shutterstock
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said it will “review” allegations by a former scientist that researchers rushed a study claiming the world was warming faster than previously thought to influence policymakers.
Dr. John Bates, the former principal scientist at the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., blew the whistle on NOAA scientists behind a landmark 2015 taxpayer-funded study claiming there was no 15-year “pause” in global warming.
“NOAA takes seriously any allegation that its internal processes have not been followed and will review the matter appropriately,” a NOAA spokesman told The Daily Caller News Foundation in response to Bates’ accusations.
The NOAA spokesman gave no further details on what actions the agency could take.
“NOAA is charged with providing peer-reviewed data to the American public and stands behind its world-class scientists,” the spokesman said.
Bates documented potential flaws with the study, referred to as the Karl study after lead author Tom Karl, and pointed out it had not been archived in accordance with NOAA policy. On top of that, the computer used to process the software used by the Karl study crashed.
“I later learned that the computer used to process the software had suffered a complete failure, leading to a tongue-in-cheek joke by some who had worked on it that the failure was deliberate to ensure the result could never be replicated,” Bates wrote on the blog Climate Etc.
Bates told The Daily Mail that NOAA scientists made a “blatant attempt to intensify the impact” of global warming to eliminate the “pause” in temperature rise since 1998, and made “decisions and scientific choices that maximised warming and minimised documentation” in advance of a major United Nations climate summit in Paris, France.
Texas Republican Rep. Lamar Smith, chairman of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, welcomed Bates’ public statements, arguing it bolstered a controversial investigation his committee launched into the Karl paper after it was published in 2015.
But many in the science community circled the wagons and defended the Karl study.
The American Geophysical Union (AGU) put out a statement that “these reports do not change our fundamental understanding of climate change” and “the main results of that study have since been independently replicated by later work.”
University of California-Berkeley climate scientist Zeke Hausfather recently co-authored a paper that found the Karl study was more accurate than the NOAA data it replaced. Hausfather rebuffed criticisms of the temperature data used in the Karl study, adding it “strongly suggests that NOAA got it right and that we have been underestimating ocean warming in recent years.”
Hausfather also said all the data used in the Karl study was made available on “NOAA’s FTP site in early June 2015, at the time that the Karl et al paper was published,” but admitted “it would have been nice for them to publish their full analysis code online as well as the data.”
The scientist at the Irish Climate Analysis and Research Units published a blog post, responding to Bates’ accusations. The blog post said Bates’s claims are a “misrepresentation of the processes that actually occurred.”
Jeremy Berg, editor-in-chief of the journal Science, stood behind the Karl study, which they published in June 2015. Berg said Karl study data “were deposited and are readily accessible according to our policy.”
“Science stands behind its handling of the paper by Karl et al., which underwent particularly rigorous peer review,” Berg said in an emailed statement.
But not everyone was convinced by the Karl study’s defenders.
“It is not good enough to say that one believes the researchers would probably have released their computer code if they were asked for it, or to say the data was archived because it was available on an ftp site, or that procedures put in place were bypassed because they were inconvenient,” wrote Dr. David Whitehouse, science editor at the Global Warming Policy Forum.
“This latest development is one of scientific conduct and integrity,” Whitehouse wrote in a blog post. “The global temperature datasets are among the most important datasets in the world. Billions of pounds rest on them.”