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Wednesday, October 06, 2010
New Zealand NIWA Capitulates on Temperature Record

Back in August we reported that the high court of New Zealand was asked to invalidate the weather service’s (NIWA’s) manipulated temperature record. In the story, it was reported:

The New Zealand Met Service record shows no warming during the last century, but NIWA has adopted a series of invariably downward adjustments in the period prior to World War 2. Because these move the old temperature records downwards, the 7SS NZTR shows a huge bounce-back of over 1C in the first half of the century” said Mr Leyland. “Although this is out of line with dozens of other records, and has been the subject of sustained questioning by both the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition and the ACT party, NIWA refuses to accept that there are serious problems with the adjustments. In fact, no one has been able to explain exactly how they were arrived at.”

Enlarged here.

In this new story, NIWA has capitulated, stating they were not responsible for the national temperature record (NZTR).

By Richard Treadgold

Three weeks ago NIWA released their Statement of Defence in response to the NZ Climate Science Coalition’s Statement of Claim regarding an Application for a Judicial Review. You have to be a lawyer (which I’m not) to see the ramifications and it’s taking a while to work through it, but these are my first reactions and I can’t hold them back any longer.

Most of this will upset NIWA’s supporters. If you’re a NIWA supporter, go find a buddy to hug before reading on. This will rock your world.

Because NIWA formally denies all responsibility for the national temperature record (NZTR).

Betrayal of supporters

Now that is surprising - shocking, really. Forget their defensive posturing since our paper criticising it last November - now they’ve given that up and say the NZTR isn’t their problem, they’re not responsible for maintaining it and apparently there’s no such thing as an “official” New Zealand Temperature Record anyway.

Will the MSM pick this up? I think they should, but I rather doubt they will.

If I was a long-term NIWA supporter, I’d be a bit miffed to hear this revelation. I’d think that NIWA had betrayed us. We’d been supporting them for months and months against scurrilous attacks on their reputation, arguing that they had good reasons for doing what they did, then they turn around and say the temperature graph is nothing to do with them!

NZCSC: “It’s faulty.” NIWA: “It’s not ours.”

How can this be the action of earnest, dedicated scientists - their answer to months of implied accusations of dishonest science? Having suffered, according to their supporters, attempts to smear their top scientists, how can NIWA respond by saying they donít want to be held responsible?

They’re not defending the temperature record or the mistakes in it, they’re virtually saying: “You’re right, the dataset could be shonky, so we’re washing our hands of it.” Which gives us no confidence in the “science” they might have applied to it. What the hell’s going on? I actually hope their lawyers know a cunning trick to get them out of this, and it’s not what it seems. Because itís my NIWA too!

But it gets worse.

NIWA has formally stated that, in their opinion, they are not required to use the best available information nor to apply the best scientific practices and techniques available at any given time. They don’t think that forms any part of their statutory obligation to pursue “excellence”.

And that little bombshell just does my head in. For how can they pursue excellence without using the best techniques?

NIWA denies there is any such thing as an “official” NZ Temperature Record, although they’re happy to create an acronym for it (NZTR). The famous “Seven-station series” (7SS) is completely unofficial and strictly for internal research purposes. Nobody else should rely on it.

It certainly looks like the NZ temperature record

So it doesn’t exist except as an acronym - and in the laboratory - and they aren’t obliged to look after it.

Wow (WOW).

If the 7SS - posted on their web site on a page headed “NZ temperature record” and looking for all the world like an official NZ temperature record - was unimpeachably correct, NIWA would be happy to claim it and to tenderly look after it. The only reason to wash their hands of it is because it’s crippled with faults - fatally flawed - just as we’ve been saying.

We were right all along.


But if the 7SS is a dead duck, what will NIWA say in future if the Government or the Courts ask whether New Zealand has warmed or cooled over the last 100 years? Well, they are getting a new NZTR, and they expect the replacement one to be a bit more defensible. We’ll have to wait and see what it concludes about cooling or warming.

$70,000 to fix and we found it for nothing

Back in February, when the NZ Climate Science Coalition wrote to Chris Mace, the chairman of NIWA, pointing out a mass of shonky aspects of the 7SS, Mr Mace promised that it would be formally “reviewed”. Minister Wayne Mapp later told Parliament that the “review” would involve five or six scientists working for about six months on justifying the NIWA adjustments. He also said that NIWA was getting an additional vote of $70,000 in the 2010 budget to cover the expenses of the “review”.

That’s a lot of time and resources to fix a problem we quickly unearthed without funding.

It’s all quite a compliment to Jim Salinger, too. After all, he made up the 7SS adjustments when he was a student back in the 1970s - with no taxpayer grants nor team of scientists to help. In 1992, 20 years later, NIWA didn’t even check Jim’s calculations (lost in a computer schemozzle) or update the methodology before adopting the whole thing as a NIWA taonga.

They seem to be doing their homework this time. Their statement of defence discloses that the new NZTR is all ready to go, subject only to peer review by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM). Before too long the 7SS will be history.

Victory without firing a shot! It’s great to be vindicated after the criticism we’ve copped, but what an anti-climax!

After the country has a well-founded temperature record, I wonder if anyone will remember to thank us?  Read more here.

Posted on 10/06 at 03:48 PM
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