Coloring the Models:
Climate Change through Color Change

by Miceal O`Ronain

7 July 2002

In a story titled "Coloring Climate Change" by Nick Schulz, Tech Central Station reported that key documents, in a US government report titled "The National Assessment of the Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change", were "doctored" to distort public perceptions of climate change. The report was published by the United States Global Change Research Program. According to their own web page, the USGCRP coordinates the research of ten Federal departments and agencies with active global change programs and provides liaison with the Executive Office of the President. The budget of the USGCRP in fiscal year 2002 was approximately $1.7 billion US dollars.

The National Assessment report has served as the basis for parts of the 2001 National Academy of Sciences' report "Climate Change Science: An Analysis of Some Key Questions" prepared for President Bush on the state of climate science and, most recently, for the highly controversial "U.S. Climate Action Report - 2002", covertly issued by climate alarmists within the Environmental Protection Agency, with the objective of embarrassing the Bush Presidency.

The TCS story displays two graphics, shown below. The graph on the left is the one which was circulated during the public comment period after the original draft was developed. It compares the Canadian Model with the Hadley Model for the lower 48 States for the summer months of June through August, over the next 100 years. The TCS story provides additional background on the two graphs and is highly commended to your attention. Then the disparity between the two models' future forecasts, cast doubt on the predictive capacity of the Canadian and Hadley models, the USGCRP issued the final report on the right, with the color scale altered to obscure the differences between the two models.

Unfortunately for the USGCRP, the two models show the areas of warming and cooling to be occurring in widely different sections of the United States. The USGCRP's solution to this conundrum was to alter the temperature color scale by eliminating yellow and green, and extending the color orange into negative temperature ranges as low as -1.0F, thereby implying warming, when in fact the models were showing no temperature change or cooling for some localities.
When the "Draft" and "Final" copies of the USGCRP graphs are animated, employing a technique used elsewhere on this web site, the amateurish nature of the deception becomes painfully obvious:

Not only was the distorted temperature color scale used to obscure the next 100 years of temperature models, it was also used to change the perception of the United State's past climatic history. The page "Overview: Looking at America's Climate" contains a graphic titled "Temperature Change" (shown below), which attempts to minimize the significant cooling which occurred in the Southeastern United States during the 20th Century. This is achieved by coloring even the zero or `no change' temperatures in light orange, and blending colors in such a way as to make it almost impossible to differentiate anything between about 0 and 5.  Not even the IPCC has as yet stooped to this level of deception. 

On the same web page, there is another graph titled "Summer Maximum and Winter Minimum Temperature Change" (shown below), which contains the USGCRP's final version of the Canadian and Hadley 21st Century Summer and Winter Models, again with a choice of color scheme which blends everything from 0 to 5 into a deceptive spread of orange.  Even areas which these models show will not change, are colored in orange. What other purpose can this peculiar coloring scheme serve but to suggest future warming in areas where none is actually predicted by the model?


"The National Assessment of the Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change" report is comprised of three separate sections which represent themselves as addressing increasing levels of detail. The descriptions are those used by the USGCRP:

1.    Overview Report: Concise, well illustrated summary.

2.    Foundation Report: Volume, more detailed than the Overview Report.

3.    Background Information: Learn more about the National Assessment.

The Overview Report is published in both HTML and PDF formats and contains all of the USGCRP graphs and most of the URLs, previously referenced. This report is clearly intended for the media and the general public. Its primary message is one of impending doom, associated with anthropogenic global warming.

I am not sure why the USGCRP expended the effort to create the Foundation Report. It has so many technical flaws, in terms of electronic publishing techniques, that anyone who attempted to read it, would be quickly discouraged from delving into its contents. The report is only published in two PDF formats. Each subsection of the report is comprised of two PDF files, one which is black and white, with extremely low resolution gray scale graphics. The second PDF file contains the color figures and graphs but only the text associated with each figure. As the figures associated with the text report are all but useless, because of the poor quality, the serious reader must have two PDF files open and switch between both files to comprehend the report. What is interesting is that the PDF file titled "Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change", which contained color figures, shows in Figure 13, the US temperatures using the altered color temperature scale, but in Figure 20, the Global temperatures are displayed using the original color temperature scale found in the draft report. The only function of the altered color temperature scale is to obscure the differences between the Canadian and Hadley models for the 21st Century United States.  By contrast, the 21st Century Global graphs were not altered in this way.

In the Background Information section, things become interesting. On a deeply buried page at "VEMAP Trend Maps" the original high resolution images, on which the draft graphics were based, can still be found. The individual graphs are: "CGCM1 Maximum Temperature Trend (JJA)" and "HadCM2 Maximum Temperature Trend (JJA)".

One could engage in endless speculation as to why the USGCRP went to the trouble of altering the first two sections yet failing to alter the third, which contained the most incriminating information. The two most likely explanations are: (1) the Background Information section was overlooked and (2) the USGCRP did not expect anyone to find the original graphs from the Canadian and Hadley Models. Also, on the "VEMAP Trend Maps" page the Canadian and Hadley Models are not compared side-by-side, so the inconsistencies between the models are not as obvious. 

Of course, the USGCRP may not even care if the real results from the Canadian and Hadley Models are found. As long as the media continues to endlessly report only the results from the first two sections, the voices of a few skeptics can be safely ignored.

Last year in another story, a question was asked for which no reply has been forthcoming: If the evidence for global warming is that compelling, why is it necessary for those who believe in global warming, to misrepresent data in this manner to support their cause?

We are still waiting for an answer!

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