Puerto Casado is a small town along the border of Paraguay whose temperature history became a topic on Christopher Booker’s column in the Telegraph. Booker showed how a raw cooling trend had metamorphosed into its opposite after ‘adjustments’. This was contested quickly by climate scientist Ed Hawkins who pointed to the town’s record on BEST. It indicated the station had been moved.
Perhaps the Puerto Casado station had been shifted to a cooler location… introducing a false cooling trend? The natural question to ask is – how does BEST know a rural station in the remote reaches of South America moved twice? Where does it get this information?
The answer, it turns out, is an entangled mess. The Puerto Casado record in BEST includes metadata from various sources. Metadata is what contains station location information. The sources collated by BEST show different latitude-longitude pairs for the station. The co-ordinates are slightly different, and they fall not far from one other.
BEST does not know the field reality of the station. Nor does it not know if the station truly moved or locations were wrongly recorded. Nor does BEST have information on the timing of any move. What it does is assume the station moved—given that different coordinates were recorded—and looks for breaks/shifts in the temperature. If breaks are present they are assumed to be due to moves. Plus, the breaks are assumed to have caused the station to look different from its neighbours.
In other words, what BEST records as ‘moves’ are not known documented moves.
Following this, BEST transforms the temperature series. It compensates for the ‘moves’ and tries to remove shifts. The result is a Puerto Casado record, which has its linear trend reversed by close to 2.7C per century.
To answer our original questions about BEST: was the station moved? We don’t know for sure. When was it moved? We don’t know. What is the effect of the supposed moves? We don’t know but we think it changed the temperature. How do you know this? Because there is change. When do you think the moves happened? When the changes occurred. And what will do to ‘correct’ this? Make Puerto Casado look like every other station around it.
We can ask BEST further questions: Are you not data-peeking? How did you settle on such non-independent analysis? We can expect silence.
Remarkably enough, supporters of climate orthodoxy manage to top such circuitous circular reasoning. Kevin Cowtan, another global temperature adjustment practitioner, declares the station instruments at Puerto Casado must have suffered calibration errors—at the same points in time when BEST says the stations must have moved.
For all the hype, BEST’s methods produce local records that are no better than the NCDC, conjuring ad-hoc rationalizations for ‘adjustments’ from the temperatures themselves. The reasoning is circular and BEST and others do not even attempt to hide it. Journalists like Booker are right to question such methods and data.