Article Names “Whistleblower” Who Told Congress That NOAA Manipulated Data
Recently a paper demonstrating that some data was wrong that indicated a short hiatus in global warming and further that there really wasn’t any hiatus has earned the ire of the politically motivated denialist crowd. Of course in this age of fable, they are trying to pump this up into one of their never-ending mega scandals that doesn’t really exist, so here’s the background when you run across it.
The research at the center of the supposed scandal was a 2015 paper published in Science by a group of NOAA researchers. The paper presented an update to NOAA’s global surface temperature record using newly updated land and ocean databases—each of which had previously been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. The update resulted in slight changes to NOAA’s numbers for some recent years, which slightly increased the short-term rise since 1998 (the adjustment brought NOAA’s record closer to other major datasets).
The paper concluded that there was no evidence of a slowdown in global warming over the last decade or so, an idea that had been a focus of people who reject the seriousness of human-caused climate change.
Rather than engage with the science behind this paper, Rep. Lamar Smith has, without any evidence, accused the NOAA scientists of doctoring their results to exaggerate recent warming. Although NOAA provided Smith with the (publicly available) data and methods behind the paper and provided a personal explanation of the research, Smith subpoenaed the e-mails of the scientists and other NOAA staff. NOAA handed over staff e-mails but refused to make the researchers’ e-mails available for a fishing expedition, citing the importance of protecting scientists’ ability to communicate freely while trying to understand their data.