NZ temperature graph doesn’t meet proper standards

Parliament Buildings through an onion

We’re working through several answers from the Hon Wayne Mapp, Minister of Research, Science and Technology, concerning questions posed by ACT about the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA).


The last of the questions posed by John Boscawen on behalf of ACT on February 19 asked about the official graph of the seven-station temperature series which shows warming over New Zealand during the 20th Century.

The answer, on March 1, said the iconic graph was finally justified by work done over about six weeks, from mid-December to early February. I’m sorry, that’s wrong: the graph was not justified by this work; the graph remains unjustified except for the portion related to Hokitika — that’s right, yes, I’ve got it now.

The work NIWA did justified only the temperature history at Hokitika, although it hasn’t been peer-reviewed yet by independent scientists, only by colleagues at NIWA, so there might still be errors in it.

You wouldn’t get away with it at high school

So the temperature graph made from seven weather stations, which NIWA has used for years to prove that the New Zealand climate has warmed, and thus we must take expensive action against global warming caused by humanity’s emissions of carbon dioxide, has never had proper scientific standing.

They’ve been pulling the wool over our eyes.

This iconic graph, prepared at great cost by highly-qualified climate scientists using public data drawn from a publicly-maintained network of weather recording stations over many decades, has never been prepared to accepted scientific standards.

Why not? Why has it taken extraordinary efforts from scientists of the NZ Climate Science Coalition (CSC) to draw this amazing confession from their colleagues at NIWA?
Why has NIWA left it until now to do the little amount of work it needs to properly qualify and describe the national temperature record?

What have they been thinking?

It gets worse

When they were asked by the CSC, under the Official Information Act, to provide details of this graph and how it was derived, why did they provide nothing?

Why didn’t they hand over the material they describe (or their minister, Wayne Mapp, described) in the Parliamentary answer:

The source material comprised: a list of the more than 30 sites used to develop the “seven-station” series; raw unadjusted data for these individual sites from NIWA’s National Climate Database; the time series of adjusted monthly mean temperatures at the seven locations; and Appendix C from Dr Jim Salinger’s 1981 Ph.D. thesis. In addition paper records were consulted to clarify the early Hokitika record (1943-1945), and the early Nelson record (1907-1920).

They gave this answer on March 1; their lawyer had answered the OIA request from the CSC, offering nothing at all, saying, in effect, “there is no material”, on January 29; yet NIWA’s scientists were hard at work, using the material they have just described in the Parliament, from mid-December. This is unacceptable.

Why didn’t they hand it over in compliance with the law? Wayne Mapp, whose head will roll for this?

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