Global Warming Debate Reignited After NASA Quietly Corrects Temperature Data

By | August 12, 2007

A Toronto blogger discovered a problem with how NASA records U.S. temperatures, concluding that 1934 is actually the hottest year on record, not 1998. The climate change controversy is heating up once again.

Digital Journal — Al Gore, you better be listening: Last week, NASA corrected an error in its data of temperature records, apparently caused by a Y2K bug. Global warming alarmists are now enduring a fault line in their argument, and anti-warmers have another arrow in their quill.

The problem was discovered by Toronto-based Steve McIntyre, who runs the blog He found that the hottest year on record in the U.S. is 1934, not 1998 as NASA previously claimed. After making adjustments to NASA’s data, McIntyre concluded about the hottest years in the U.S.:

Four of the top 10 are now from the 1930s: 1934, 1931, 1938 and 1939, while only 3 of the top 10 are from the last 10 years (1998, 2006, 1999). Several years (2000, 2002, 2003, 2004) fell well down the leaderboard, behind even 1900.

As the National Post wrote, NASA quickly made corrections when McIntyre pointed out the faulty data. But Gore followers and pro-warmers are still swallowing a bitter pill.

The Post wrote: There is no discernible trend, no obvious warming of late…[and] ever since the correction became a hot topic on blogs, the pro-warmers have tried to downplay its significance, insisting, for example, that the alterations merely amount to ‘very minor rearrangements in the various rankings.’

Among the blogs that have scoffed at McIntyre’s finding was RealClimate, which posted recently:

The net effect of the change was to reduce mean US anomalies by about 0.15 ºC for the years 2000-2006…In the global or hemispheric mean, the differences were imperceptible (since the US is only a small fraction of the global area).

McIntyre is no stranger to disproving global warming theories. With environmental economist Ross McKitrick, he spotted statistical errors in the famous “hockey stick” chart of global temperatures that has been key evidence that the world is warming.

No matter where you stand on this issue, McIntyre’s findings should be taken seriously for what they represent: data errors in a system designed to provide accurate data on U.S. temperatures. If there are problems with those statistics, global warming evidence is bruised and possibly damaged beyond repair.

Then again, should the public believe in what one blogger has discovered? Is that more reputable than what hundreds of scientists are telling the world about the rise of global temperatures? This mathematical correction is nonetheless troubling, because it proves, yet again, how the powers that be can easily make mistakes and corroborate theories that are already facing an incredible amount of skepticism.