The Satellitegate scandal festers on. US government passes the buck to Michigan State University but they won’t give straight answers either.
University Relations officer, Mark Fellows of Michigan State University (MSU) gives an official response to questions I put originally to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) months ago about their "degraded" NOAA-16 satellite. I had sought answers as to how deep and extensive was the data contamination from a broken sensor that led NOAA to remove a "degraded" global temperature satellite from service. I wished to know whether NOAA were going to actively root out all corrupted data and re-publish their numbers.
However, NOAA tossed that hot potato over to MSU who now advises they “cannot make any representations on behalf of NOAA.” Thus neither NOAA nor MSU will come clean on the true extent of satellite temperature data corruption and a Freedom of Information (FOIA) request is now becoming ever more necessary to move this issue forward.
Government Lawyers Quickly on the Case
After the Satellitegate story broke in the summer NOAA had their lawyers on the case. A formal attorney’s letter advised me NOAA would not comment and referred the matter to their Coast Watch partner’s site that is run by Michigan State University (MSU). Their legal advisers declined to accept that their NOAA-16 satellite failure was as an issue they ought to address.
But MSU now points the finger back at NOAA leaving taxpayers no closer to the truth about the extent of satellite data corruption. But conversely what is mounting is further evidence to suggest that the US government may be engaging in a cover up.
Years of Satellite Data Undermined
My original articles reported that the US Government has been forced to admit its satellite readings were ‘degraded’ and as Dr. John Christy indicates, the real Satellitegate is not about one satellite.
NOAA has reported a succession of record warm temperatures in recent years based on such satellite readings but these may all be fatally undermined if government stonewalling persists.
With top climate scientists and even prior governmental reports citing under funding and misallocation as the trigger for spiraling satellite data calamities researchers have shown flaws with five satellites that undermine global climate data records.
With public confidence in the official numbers falling why won’t the US government come clean and frankly answer the questions posed? If they did then we could once and for all clear up the suspicion over whether thousands of bogus super hot false temperatures have been fed into climate models for years.
University Admits only Images not Data was Fixed
As the weeks and months pass with no official answers on such questions I published my last article explaining that a Freedom of Information (FOIA) request would soon become the last viable option to get at the truth in this matter.
Interestingly, since publication of that article MSU contacted me via spokesman, Mark Fellows. While Fellows conceded that, “seriously degraded data from one satellite was the root cause of the problem” he would only go as far as admitting that “images” – not data had been removed from the MSU archives.
Therefore we are still no closer to a definitive statement as to whether “degraded” satellite data has been infecting global climate models.
Five Years of Public Records Deleted
Typical of U.S. satellites, and admitted to by Fellows and other authorities, the offending NOAA-16 data handling is automated and human operators do not routinely check the numbers. Respected climate scientist, Dr Roy Spencer advised me he knew of the fault in the satellite’s sensor in 2005 and he and other experts abandoned using its corrupted temperatures for climate modeling.
Following Spencer’s advice and before publishing my first Satellitegate article, I checked the NOAA-16 satellite’s AVHRR Subsystem Summary. What I found were numerous entries up to 2010 but nowhere any mention of sensor problems likely to cause data degradation. However, after publication of my articles, all entries from the NOAA-16 AVHRR Subsystem Summary from 2005 onwards were removed. Why?
NOAA Sells Degraded Data to Unwitting Researchers
Continuation of such obstructive conduct makes it increasingly reasonable to infer that NOAA may be implicated in malfeasance and possible fraud. We still do not see evidence that NOAA acted with due diligence on these bogus temperatures. By its omissions to publish caveats, upon the evidence of Spencer and others, NOAA appears to have knowingly failed to notify customers of the contamination of its temperature products for at least five years, maybe more.
Thus with no evidence in its favor the public may conclude the US government wrongfully sold degraded temperature data to unwitting climate research institutes around the world.
With a huge can of worms now opened MSU has joined NOAA in declining to explain this bizarre, indeed, potentially criminal conduct. Is it any wonder that skeptics see such disingenuous responses as little more than stalling tactics in what is becoming increasingly seen as a government cover up?
Below is a full copy of the MSU email. Note that the university cites removal of “images” not of data:
Re: CoastWatch thermal data
From: Mark Fellows
Dear Mr. O’Sullivan:
Your queries to CoastWatch were forwarded to me. You should understand that we can only provide information regarding the CoastWatch program, which is a partnership including MSU. We cannot make any representations on behalf of NOAA.
The main focus of the Great Lakes CoastWatch website is to provide commercial, charter and recreational anglers with information on lake surface temperatures. It is not intended, nor advertised, to be a primary source for any scientific or climate studies. The CoastWatch team is not aware of any such studies that have used imagery or data obtained from the website.
The CoastWatch computer system is highly automated to reduce cost. It ingests pre-processed thermal imagery generated by instruments on NOAA satellites. On the evening of August 9, 2010, it came the attention of the CoastWatch team that some thermal images on the website contained obviously erroneous temperatures. It was soon determined that seriously degraded data from one satellite was the root cause of the problem.
The team took immediate action to remove the image from the website and reprogrammed the system to no longer ingest data from that satellite. In addition, the team searched the image archive for other obviously erroneous temperature images and removed them. [emphasis added]
The following notice was posted on the web site and all internal pages:
NOTICE (8/11/2010): Due to degradation of a satellite sensor used by this mapping product, some images have exhibited extreme high and low surface temperatures. Please disregard these images as anomalies. Future images will not include data from the degraded satellite and images caused by the faulty satellite sensor will be/have been removed from the image archive. [emphasis added]
In the 16 years that this service has been available, this is the first known instance of seriously degraded thermal data being delivered on the website. The CoastWatch team is currently evaluating whether other reprogramming changes are necessary to avoid such problems in the future.
On behalf of Great Lakes CoastWatch,
Michigan State University