Stumbling Over Data; August 2009; Scientific American Magazine; by David Appell; 2 Page(s)
Even as the Obama administration moves ahead with modest plans to tackle global warming, the public relations battle on the issue is as fierce as ever. Some recent scientific stumbles haven't helped. In fact, they have given fodder to climate change skeptics, some of whom have seized on the errors to attack the credibility of scientists and sway public opinion.
Many scientific organizations, such as the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, now put data (some near real-time) on their Web sites. The information ranges from raw numbers from weather stations to computed values of, for instance, monthly global temperature anomalies, which represent temperature deviations from a historical average. Typically researchers make corrections and adjustments as they check equipment and replicate experiments.