Energy

NOAA’s ‘Hiatus’-Busting Study ‘Rushed’, Ignored ‘Scientific Processes’

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Michael Bastasch Energy Editor

The battle between House Republicans and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is intensifying thanks to claims from whistleblowers that government scientists “rushed” a key study claiming there was no prolonged “hiatus” in global warming.

“Information provided to the Committee by whistleblowers appears to show that the [NOAA] study was rushed to publication despite the concerns and objections of a number of NOAA scientists, ignoring established and standard NOAA scientific processes and potentially violating NOAA’s scientific integrity policies,” Texas Republican Rep. Lamar Smith writes in a letter to Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, the second letter he’s sent this week as part of an investigation into NOAA.

Smith worries a highly publicized study by Dr. Tom Karl, the director of NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, was rushed to publication to further the political goals of President Barack Obama, who is pushing an aggressive regulatory agenda to fight global warming.

Karl’s study presents newly “adjusted” temperature data which does “not support the notion of a global warming ‘hiatus’” — a period of 10 to 15 years with no significant global warming. Karl claims there was actually an increased warming trend during that time, not a slowdown in warming.

The study is heavily criticized by some climate scientists, who argue the “adjustments” made to the temperature record to get rid of the “hiatus” are questionable and not adequately explained by NOAA scientists.

This short paper in Science is not adequate to explain and explore the very large changes that have been made to the NOAA data set,” Dr. Judith Curry of Georgia Tech writes in her critique of Karl’s study.

“The global surface temperature datasets are clearly a moving target,” Curry says. “So while I’m sure this latest analysis from NOAA will be regarded as politically useful for the Obama administration, I don’t regard it as a particularly useful contribution to our scientific understanding of what is going on.”

Republican lawmakers took interest in Karl’s study and requested information from NOAA over the summer on the study and communication records from agency employees. But their inquiry has turned into a political football, with NOAA refusing to hand over communications from their scientists to Congress.

Smith accuses the agency of “politicizing” lawmaker’s requests to make it look like they are targeting government scientists. NOAA maintains it won’t turn over any internal communications from scientists or employees working in policy and communications, but made some officials available for congressional interviews.

Now, Smith says whistleblowers have come forward and says Karl’s “hiatus” stusy was rushed through the agency “before all appropriate reviews of the underlying science” were completed. NOAA employees apparently pointed this out to the agency, but were ignored.

“Because the Karl study was apparently prematurely rushed to publication, the timing of its release raises concerns that it was expedited to fit the administration’s aggressive climate agenda,” Smith writes.

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