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The press has been abuzz lately with the Berkley Earth project.

Their recent scientific achievements "confirmed" the warming trend in global temperatures.I admit, there is certainly an amusing irony in the fact that they were partially funded by oil billionaires, but other than that, the climate story hasn't really changed.  At least three groups (NOAA, NASA, HadCRU) had already published the warming trend that the Berkley group found, and it has been studied in detail for decades. 

Sadly, most of us can't make a scientific career out of re-confirming other people's results.  Otherwise, I would just write a paper detailing Einstein's theory of relativity, post it on a really slick website, publish it in a top journal, and rest on my laurels.  After all, relativity has skeptics too.

480px-Einstein_1921_portrait2.jpgWhilst the old-hat temperature trend is making all the headlines, there does appear to be a scientific contribution in the Berkley group's work.  In their first paper, they detail an averaging process that "allows us to include short and discontinuous temperature records."  This is potentially a very useful algorithm.  Earth sciences are riddled with sporadic, truncated, and sparse time series.  If we could use a similar algorithm on other measurements--e.g. salmon returns, copepod abundance, or whale sightings--then we could potentially include data sources that we previously had to omit due to biases.

It's unfortunate that we live in a world where stories about averaging processes don't push paper.

P.S. Hats off to the NOAA scientists who had it right all along.  NOAA gets enough flack about its science already, and is sadly underfunded.  Yet here was a collection of scientists whose main motivation was simply to do good science.

-Nick Record, signing off

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Awesome post. NASA also deserves huge credit for documenting climate change. Although NASA's budget is huge, the amount of money going to earth observations and climate research is very small.

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This page contains a single entry by Nick Record published on November 8, 2011 12:33 AM.

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