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New Zealand – Where did that warming go?

Posted By Joanne Nova On October 10, 2010 @ 5:08 am In Global Warming | Comments Disabled

UPDATED (below)

Think of this as a car crash. NIWA says: “The car’s fine, there’s nothing wrong with it.”

Then: “We can’t find the keys (actually we’ve lost the car)”.

Later: “We weren’t driving it”.

Finally: “The car doesn’t exist”.

There’s a litany of excuses. The National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) claims New Zealand has been warming at 0.92°C per 100 years. But when some independent minded chaps in New Zealand graphed the raw NZ data, they found that the thermometers show NZ has only warmed by a statistically non-significant 0.06°C. They asked for answers and got nowhere, until they managed to get the light of legal pressure onto NIWA to force it to reply honestly. Reading between the lines, it’s obvious NIWA can’t explain or defend the adjustments.

Richard Treadgold was one of that team and wrote it up here.

The legal documents:

August 2010: The NZ Climate Science Coalition’s put together legal claims.

The NZCSC filed judicial review proceedings against NIWA, requesting the Court to:

• Declare the 7SS invalid
• Direct NIWA to prepare a valid replacement NZTR

September 14th 2010: NIWA “defended itself”

Treadgold colorfully summed up what happened when NIWA put out its defense.

NZCSC: “It’s faulty.” NIWA: “It’s not ours.”

How can this be the action of earnest, dedicated scientists — their answer to months of implied accusations of dishonest science? Having suffered, according to their supporters, attempts to smear their top scientists, how can NIWA respond by saying they don’t want to be held responsible?

They’re not defending the temperature record or the mistakes in it, they’re virtually saying: “You’re right, the dataset could be shonky, so we’re washing our hands of it.” Which gives us no confidence in the “science” they might have applied to it. What the hell’s going on?

…it gets worse.

NIWA has formally stated that, in their opinion, they are not required to use the best available information nor to apply the best scientific practices and techniques available at any given time. They don’t think that forms any part of their statutory obligation to pursue “excellence”.

And that little bombshell just does my head in. For how can they pursue excellence without using the best techniques?

NIWA denies there is any such thing as an “official” NZ Temperature Record, although they’re happy to create an acronym for it (NZTR).

Specifically NIWA claims:

Point 7: “There is no “official” or formal New Zealand Temperature Record;”

(b) [NIWAs] website contains a page titled New Zealand temperature record (“NZTR”), being an informal description for a collection of different streams of climate information…

Point 8: “The NZTR is not a record and is not a public record for the purposes of the PRA”

It is a controlling public office in respect of the Database; and
(f) It is not a controlling public office in respect of the NZTR, 7SS, 11SS or Marine Measurements for the purposes of the PRA

The implications are far reaching (if a bit open ended)

I wondered out loud in an email to Tony Cox about what it would mean, he replied off the cuff:

The Defence, parts 7 and 8 are novel; the SOC is basically asserting either nonfeasance [not doing something which had to be done] or malfeasance [doing something wrong which had to be done]; the Defence is saying that nothing had to be done and wasn’t done.

This is extraordinarily stupid. Anyone who has paid, been levied, fined or taxed on the basis of this [non-existent] record because a government, statutory body or private firm which charged the fee did so on the basis of this [non-existent] record could now sue for the recovery of the fee[s] they have paid. Class actions anyone?

In a nutshell, it appears that what it means is what we make of it.

I’m not sure if there is any legal agency with any power to enforce some action at this point (do enlighten me), but it sure could be a gift — though possibly only if the people of New Zealand (and their friends) decide to run with NIWA’s admissions and pursue this to the end.

All the documents, reports, contracts and parliamentary statements that relied on the New Zealand Temperature Record, are surely now begging to be challenged. All the people that mistakenly believed that the NZTR was more than just an unverified, unaudited, internal document, now need to reconsider where they stand.

Background information

From Quadrant:   Crisis in NZ Climatology and  NZ Climate Crisis Gets Worse

Links to the NZTR

7SS (7 station series) and 11SS (11 station series)

7SS only (one left click for a blowup)

Thanks to Bryan Leyland and Richard C

h/t to several other people who deserve to be named… (and I’ll do that as soon as I can find those comments).

Thanks Richard C for those extra links and Tony Cox for his thoughts.


Richard Treadgold explains on WUWT that legal action is ongoing. NIWA have essentially admitted the NZTR is wrong, and have promised to redo the graph they can’t justify. There is not much left for the court to adjudicate. NIWA have spent $70,000 on 5 or 6 scientists and taken months to do what the volunteers did (but presumably with extra special homogenization tricks as well). They have sent their new graph to the Australian BOM for “ratification”. (Ha ha) BOM adjustments increased Australian raw temperatures by 40%. Unfortunately, increasing nothing (0.06) by 40% is still bugger all. Wait and see if NZCSC need to press on to trial.

UPDATE: From the comments thread

From Richard C

Could Tony Cox clarify the legality please?

Is what he described here, the result of economic tort?

Second question for Tony Cox.

Can the fact that NIWA is displaying the NZTR (7SS and 11SS) on its website in support of its claims “that NZ has warmed during the past century”, be construed as a “passing off” of the NZTR as a “record” and even as a “high quality database”?

From Tony in reply

RichardC @ 5 & 7; the possible tort actions you describe have been largely superseded in most Western nations by the legislative equivalents of Fair Trading and Trade Practice Acts ; basically they codify misrepresentation.

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