GIStemp Start_Here

GIStemp, A “Start Here” page

I have moved this page to in the top bar as the “GIStemp” tab (rather than being a ‘sticky page’). In the near future, I’ll cut the text here back to just this ‘relocation notice’ in case anyone has linked to this page.

Every journey begins with but a single step. This page is it for GIStemp deconstruction.

At present this is a work in progress. As I get through a chunk, I will update this persistent top level page with the appropriate links. It is likely to take a few months.

At present, I’m nearly done with STEP0, and I’ve started on STEP1 (which sounds much more impressive when you realize that STEP4_5 is really just a couple of new programs and some runs of the same code as STEP3, so there’s roughly STEP2 as a “big chunk” to go, and with Minus One, Zero, and One done that makes it about half way already…

STEP3 and STEP4_5 have had the scripts documented and the source code is up, but I have not yet done the FORTRAN deconstruction.

So please expect that there will be headers with no data, or links that fail; and that this shell will fill in over time. There is only one of me doing it part time for free, so the speed will not be what you might like.

You are welcome to help make it go faster by contributing time, coding skill, commentary, or even just beer. After all, my present motto is “Will Program for Beer!” (Hey, everybody needs a motivator…good management just chooses what they know will work; and since I’m management as well as grunt on this project…)

GIStemp has 6 formal steps (named 0 to 5) each run by a top level script. In the sections on each STEP, I go through that top level script in an overview page. that overview page will have links to the source code and commentary for each program inside that step. As these overviews get done, and as the code pages fill out, there will be links added to fill in this structure.

Right now the biggest hole is STEP2, but I hope to have something there soon. STEP1 source code is also lacking for now.

General Overview Steps

So how big is this puppy and where can I download a copy? What is the general impression of it?

For a bit more detail on the source download and a peek at the “README” file that comes with it, gistemp.txt, we have a starter peek.

And if you would like, you can look in a bit more depth at the ghcn data formats.

General Issues

A list of things I’ve found that make me wonder.

First up, the issue of GIStemp cutting off data at 1880 and using an odd “baseline” period of 1950 to 1980. Is this a Cherry Pick? Were these dates picked deliberately to make warming trends look bigger than they really were (or to fabricate the trend entirely?)

Then there is the issue of false precision. How can you calculate 1/10 th of a degree C from data in whole degrees F? Mr. McGuire would NOT approve!

And then there is the issue of trying to dig a global trend out of a data series that only goes back a few years for most of the planet. Maybe you can get a 50 year trend for America, but not for most of the world. We just don’t have the data for the time period needed


Related Websites

To Be Done: Add entries.

The Code – Step by Step, Inch by Inch, Slowly He Turns…

Step Minus One

OK, you need to get the data and there is a pre-process to sort the Antarctic data if you get a fresh copy.

Step Zero

So how about those input files scattered about?

Once you have all the data and files, STEP0 processing does what again?

Step One

What does STEP1 look like in an overview sense?

This step uses Python, but the Python programs call a library of C functions. These are in two pieces. Monthlydata and Stationstrings.

Step Two

What does STEP2 look like in an overview sense?

This step has several subscripts and FORTRAN programs

Step Three

What does STEP3 look like in an overview of mostly just source code listings right now.

Step Four_Five

Some folks have asserted that since GIStemp uses an anomaly map for sea surface temperatures to adjust its internal anomaly map already computed, this means that GIStemp “uses satellite data”. After chasing this down for a while, I came to the conclusion that this stretches the truth quite a bit. Yes, it uses a partially satellite derived SST anomaly map as input to STEP4, but that isn’t quite the same as using direct satellite data.

What does STEP4 look like in an overview of mostly just source code listings right now.

What does STEP5 look like in an overview of mostly just source code listings right now.

About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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9 Responses to GIStemp Start_Here

  1. Roger Sowell says:


    I just stopped by to see what new things you have posted, and noticed you linked to my blogs.

    I am honored. I will link to yours when I can figure out how.


  2. E.M.Smith says:

    Energy stuff is a particular passion for me and your coverage of it is interesting…

  3. H.R. says:

    @Roger Sowell

    I visited your site and found it quite interesting. I spent a bit of time reading and when I have a spare moment, I’ll finish up my reading and say “howdy” on your site.

    I’ve only delved into the AGW (aka Climate Change) debate within the past eight months or so. I’ve mostly limited my comments to bon mots to amuse fellow posters, but I expect I’ll soon have enough confidence in my command of the most recent climate studies to hazard posititing an hypothesis that requires a reasoned defense.

    I’ve been hanging out here at “Musngs From The Chiefio” because I think Mr. Smith is truly doing something that no one in their right mind (Sorry, E.M.) has had the guts (or enough beer money) to tackle. And to top it off, I’m following his efforts reasonably well thanks to my experience with Fortran in a previous life and E.M.’s English translations GIStemp.

    There is more to my life than CO2 driven AGW but at the present time, the solutions proposed by those who believe CO2 driven AGW is mankind’s greatest threat seem to be threatening my ability to pursue what I think are other more pressing interests. Take fishing for example… ;o)

    If we can’t contribute directly, let’s all contribute our support to E.M. indirectly by dropping by occasionally to cheer him on, eh?

  4. E.M.Smith says:

    Thanks for the cheer H.R.!

    It does help, in those dark moments when I’m wondering why I’m bothering to do this, to know that somewhere it’s helping someone somehow!

    FWIW, the STEP4_5 stuff looks Very hand rolled… It’s more like hand tools than production run code. Lots of comments like “the script will compile “foo” or just comment it out and do the compile by hand”.

    Also, subject for a future posting, there are clear “archeological” layers to this beast. Some parts are clearly FORTRAN 77 (only) and others are clearly dependent on newer (FORTRAN 90 or 95) features.

    I’m not sure yet if it will require 2 different FORTRAN compilers to make it go right, but at least it needs something newer than f77!

    In particular, look at the “do loops”. Some are of the:

    DO 100 1,2,1
    IF [some statements] GOTO 200
    100 CONTINUE
    200 [came from IF statement]

    form of f77 while others are of the f90 form:

    do 1,2,1
    [if some statement] cycle

    The programs that are in ALL CAPS look like someone took an old f77 punch card deck and scanned it in!

  5. Steve Keohane says:

    E.M. Smith, I enjoy your input at WUWT, and thought I’d stop in to see what you are up to. You mention the Si industry at times. I had an engineering career at HP in photolith, ret. in ’92. Temperature measurement and control, and optical submicron metrology were my main areas of work. Didn’t get into programing until DOS and R.M. Basic came around, and continued with Pascal, C & C+. I followed Steve McIntyre through his dissection of Mann and his cohorts. Looks like you have quite an undertaking with this spaghetti code.
    As regards climatology, one of my longtime interests has been paleo-anthropology, since about ’60. This field has always done reconstructions of the climate for any field dig to try to get an idea of the enviromental impacts on life at that time. I was dismayed to see AIT, my wife thought we should watch it, but she turned it off after 10 min. because she couldn’t take my ranting about the fallacies at every new statement Gore made. It still amazes me that people are hysterical about the very minor fluctuations in climate we are experiencing relative to what has come before, even in the last twent centuries.
    I’ll add your site to my list of interesting things to follow. All the best to your efforts.

  6. E.M.Smith says:


    Thanks for the encouragement. It will take time, but I’ll get through the code…

    The most amazing thing to me is the complete lack of perspective folks have about our present climate. Look at a 500,000 year chart and you see giant peaks and valleys. At the peak nearest our time (our present interglacial) it shoots up more than present, then drops a bit and there is a tiny little “shelf” with a barely perceptible wiggle. That’s the last 10,000 years or so (LIA, MWP, et. al.).

    People are in hysterics over an unmeasurable change in a nearly flat series, when we could fall off a cliff 10 to 100 times larger. Go figure…

    Particularly the blue line…

  7. Steve Keohane says:


    That is a plot to save. The ice volume proxy is interesting, being presently at a high point. It is unfathomable to me how ‘climate scientists’ have no context for ice caps & sealevel (obviously related), swings in short term temperatures, and the fact that with CO2 at 5K+ ppm, the climate did not run away. Not to mention that CO2 at equal levels exists when we enter an ice age as well as leave one, ie. one is warming one is cooling.

  8. E.M.Smith says:

    Yes, though notice that a “high point” on the ice volume line is a low ice volume ( the scale is inverted ) and that we really only have one way to go from here: to one heck of a lot more ice!

    The thing that makes me nervous about that graph is the hard slap down that comes after EVERY interglacial and then you look at ours and we’ve just barely escaped it for just a little too long… Then folks want to push toward cooling Really Hard? They have no idea what they are asking for…

    Maybe I’ll turn that graph into an article…
    FWIW, this story:

    is about semi-tropical turtle fossils in the Arctic (and we didn’t have a runaway greenhouse then either) with Canada about like North Carolina. I think many Canadians could live with that!

  9. Ric Werme says:

    I’m not sure how I and others managed to miss this (there is a reference at ), but you may want to take a look at UCAR’s CCSM model at .

    The source code (Fortran 90 & C mostly), documentation, long list of systems it runs on, documentation, encouragement, support, etc. suggest it’s a lot more attractive than looking at ModelE.

    The systems I recognize are major supercomputers, but I first heard about it at the Mensa Annual Colloquium. A speaker from Perdue, Noah Diffenbaugh, says they use it on a Linux cluster and that it runs on smaller systems too.

    One of the things Diffenbaugh talked about that might interest you is model output that calls for major warming in the American Southwest desert and into Mexico. He ascribed it to less moisture (believable), and the summer low pressure system being replaced by high pressure and subsidence. I have trouble with the high pressure formation, as the current low is thanks to heat and lower air density. Perhaps the area expands and a large region allows high pressure to develop.

    I don’t see a paper on that at but Diffenbaugh may have said the results are very new, like in the last few weeks.

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