Assessment of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Scientific Integrity Policies and Procedures

December 2018
Dr. Arthur B. Baggeroer, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Dr. Robert B. Gagosian, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Dr. Domenico Grasso, University of Michigan
Dr. Michael B. McElroy, Harvard University [Co-chair]
Dr. Jay J. Schnitzer, The MITRE Corporation [Co-chair]
Dr. Cindy Lee Van Dover, Duke University
Dr. Steven C. Wofsy, Harvard University
Dr. Linda Zall, Central Intelligence Agency, Retired
Susan Boa, The MITRE Corporation
Anne Cady, The MITRE Corporation
Dr. Robert Edson, The MITRE Corporation
Kevin Gunn, The MITRE Corporation
Dr. James Providakes, The MITRE Corporation
Kevin Toner, The MITRE Corporation
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On June 26, 2015, scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) published a manuscript in Science Magazine, "Possible Artifacts of Data Biases in the Recent Global Surface Warming Hiatus," addressing the perceived decrease in the upward trend of global surface temperatures. Based on a revised interpretation of the observational data for the ocean, Karl, et al. (2015) (hereafter referred to as "the Karl Study") concluded that "the rate of warming during the first 15 years of the 21st century is at least as great as the last half of the 20th century." The paper was critiqued in a February 2017 blog posting written by former NOAA employee, Dr. John Bates.

The Department of Commerce (DOC) engaged MITRE as an independent not-for-profit entity to objectively assess the processes used to develop and publish the Karl Study. MITRE, which operates federally funded research and development centers, has a 60-year history of leveraging independent expertise in science and systems engineering to inform government decision making. MITRE assembled a team of leading scientists from prestigious institutions to collaborate with MITRE personnel to provide an objective analysis of all available information relevant to this assessment. The teaming between MITRE and the assembled scientists will be referred to as "the MITRE Committee."

This report addresses the following tasks in the MITRE Statement of Work from the DOC:

  • Task A: Assess NOAA's scientific review process for assurance of unbiased decision making when completing and publishing the Karl Study.
  • Task B: Assess the merits to Dr. John Bates’ complaints regarding the data and conclusions made in the Karl Study.

Readers may download the full paper here.

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