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Scientists from around the world gather to discuss Academic Misconduct  (Source: ESF)
The European Science Foundation takes aim at an "open sore" in scientific research

The European Science Foundation just wrapped up the first World Conference on Research Integrity.  Held in Lisbon, this historic three-day conference drew hundreds of scientists to address what they call the "open sore" of science -- the falsification or misrepresentation of research data.  The conference named two events from recent climate research: NASA's "Y2K" bug (first reported here at DailyTech) and a second incident with a much larger potential impact.

The subject is  two papers written in 1990 by SUNY professor Wei-Chyung Wang, both which used temperature data from China dating back to the 1950s. Their topic was "Urban Heat Islands," or UHIs. The concrete in buildings, the dark surfaces of rooftops, black pavement, waste heat from cars and factories all raise temperatures immediately around cities. These "heat islands," which have nothing to do with greenhouse gases, create a problem for accurately measuring trends. A thermometer near a city will always read warmer than one outside it ... sometimes by several degrees.

The IPCC cites one paper as primary justification for concluding UHIs are not affecting the global temperature record. It was chosen due to claims of high quality data, with Wang claiming stations "had few, if any changes in instrumentation, location, or observation times."

Last month, British mathematician Doug Keenan stumbled across Wang's research. Having analyzed the Chinese data himself, he was immediately suspicious. During the 50s and 60s, China was in a state of intense turmoil. It couldn't even determine its own population to within 100 million, so claims it had a large accurate network of weather stations that hadn't moved and been read continuously and consistently, always at the same time of day, seemed outrageous.

Keenan filed a Freedom of Information Act claim to find the source of Wang's data -- a report written jointly by the U.S. DOE and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He quickly found a smoking gun. The data came from only 84 stations, 60% of which had no history whatsoever, and the report claims "details regarding instrumentation, collection methods, observing times ... are not known."  Of the 35 remaining, over half had moved large distances (one station moving as many as five times) or had serious, known inconsistencies in the record. The report specifically contradicts Wang's claims, concluding that "even the best stations were subject to minor relocations or changes in observing times and many have undoubtedly experienced large increases in urbanization."

Keenan immediately filed a formal allegation of fraud against Wang, a charge which is pending investigation at this time.

Why is all this important? Because even though the Earth is warming, the rate of warming is critical. Even the IPCC admits natural factors are responsible for some of recent temperature rises. The entire theory of anthropogenic global warming hinges on one factor -- whether the rate is too fast to be explained by natural causes.

Put simply, if UHI effects really are raising temperature readings substantially, the primary justification for human-induced global warming vanishes. Kaput.

A recent survey of the U.S. weather station network found an astonishing 87% of all sites fail to meet the network's own guidelines, with stations on top of black pavement or hot rooftops, next to AC exhaust vents, above barbecue grills, etc. A survey of the Spanish network found over half to be located at airports; and most of the rest on military bases. It seems clear that, if UHI effects exist, it would seriously impact temperature readings.  And not just in the U.S., but globally.

Radiosonde (balloon-based) and satellite readings of atmospheric warming show a warming trend much smaller than that measured at the surface. The IPCC -- based largely on Wang's research -- concluded the satellite measurements are wrong, and the surface temperatures are accurate. This statement appears to now be overdue for reexamination.




"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes
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