Climate Science Glossary

Term Lookup

Enter a term in the search box to find its definition.

Settings

Use the controls in the far right panel to increase or decrease the number of terms automatically displayed (or to completely turn that feature off).

Term Lookup

Settings


All IPCC definitions taken from Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Annex I, Glossary, pp. 941-954. Cambridge University Press.

Home Arguments Software Resources Comments The Consensus Project Translations About Donate

Twitter Facebook YouTube Pinterest

RSS Posts RSS Comments Email Subscribe


Climate's changed before
It's the sun
It's not bad
There is no consensus
It's cooling
Models are unreliable
Temp record is unreliable
Animals and plants can adapt
It hasn't warmed since 1998
Antarctica is gaining ice
View All Arguments...



Username
Password
Keep me logged in
New? Register here
Forgot your password?

Latest Posts

Archives

Climategate: Hiding the Decline?

Posted on 22 November 2010 by James Wight

This is the third part in a series on the fake scandal of Climategate (start here).

A second set of allegations relate to the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit (CRU)’s paleoclimate reconstructions, which use tree rings as a proxy for temperature change. Although this is a relatively obscure branch of climate science, it was prominently featured in the Summary for Policymakers of the IPCC Third Assessment Report (TAR). Consequently, it has become a prime target for contrarians; as the Muir Russell Review puts it, they have long argued that the way CRU handled data was “intended to bias the scientific conclusions towards a specific result and to set aside inconvenient evidence.”

In what is probably the most notorious of the CRU emails, dated 16/11/1999, Jones wrote:

I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.

This email is often quoted by commentators with little or no understanding of what it refers to, so it is worth taking some time to explain the context. Jones was discussing a graph for the cover of an obscure 1999 World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) report, which depicted both instrumental temperature data and reconstructed temperatures based on tree rings. The “decline” refers to the fact that some tree ring series (though not all) diverge from instrumental records in recent decades, for reasons that are not fully understood (although there are grounds for believing it is only a recent phenomenon). The “trick” was a way of presenting the data in this one particular graph, namely to truncate the tree ring data at the point when it diverged.

Anyway, contrarians take the use of the words “trick” and “hide the decline” as evidence that this was done to deceive, and this was the allegation that the inquiry examined. More generally, the contrarians claim that the divergence problem “may not have been properly taken into account when expressing the uncertainty associated with reconstructions”.

Contrarians have also accused CRU researchers (in particular their leading expert on tree ring reconstructions, Keith Briffa) of cherry-picking tree ring series that would produce a favoured result, namely that the late 20th century was warmer than the Medieval Warm Period. They allege that Briffa’s selection of an obscure tree ring chronology from the Yamal peninsula in Siberia “had an undue influence on all of the lines appearing in Chapter 6 of the 4th IPCC Report” (AR4); and that CRU withheld access to the Yamal data. And they use all these alleged flaws in CRU’s work to claim that less confidence should be placed in the conclusions of that AR4 chapter (specifically, the conclusion that current temperatures are likely the warmest in 13 centuries).

Regarding the “hide the decline” email, Jones has explained that when he used the word “trick”, he simply meant “a mathematical approach brought to bear to solve a problem”. The inquiry made the following criticism of the resulting graph (its emphasis):

[T]he figure supplied for the WMO Report was misleading. We do not find that it is misleading to curtail reconstructions at some point per se, or to splice data, but we believe that both of these procedures should have been made plain — ideally in the figure but certainly clearly described in either the caption or the text. [1.3.2]

But this was one isolated instance that occurred more than a decade ago. The Review did not find anything wrong with the overall picture painted about divergence (or uncertainties generally) in the literature and in IPCC reports. The Review notes that the WMO report in question “does not have the status or importance of the IPCC reports”, and concludes that divergence “is not hidden” and “the subject is openly and extensively discussed in the literature, including CRU papers.” [1.3.2]

As for the treatment of uncertainty in the AR4’s paleoclimate chapter, the Review concludes that the central Figure 6.10 is not misleading, that “[t]he variation within and between lines, as well as the depiction of uncertainty is quite apparent to any reader”, that “there has been no exclusion of other published temperature reconstructions which would show a very different picture”, and that “[t]he general discussion of sources of uncertainty in the text is extensive, including reference to divergence”. [7.3.1]

Regarding CRU’s selections of tree ring series, the Review does not presume to say whether one series is better than another, though it does point out that CRU have responded to the accusation that Briffa misused the Yamal data on their website. The Review found no evidence that CRU scientists knowingly promoted non-representative series or that their input cast doubt on the IPCC’s conclusions. The much-maligned Yamal series was included in only 4 of the 12 temperature reconstructions in the AR4 (and not at all in the TAR).

What about the allegation that CRU withheld the Yamal data? The Review found that “CRU did not withhold the underlying raw data (having correctly directed the single request to the owners)”, although “we believe that CRU should have ensured that the data they did not own, but on which their publications relied, was archived in a more timely way.” [1.3.2]

In summary, while the inquiry did criticize an individual graph, it found no evidence of CRU intentionally manipulating tree ring data or downplaying the associated uncertainties to mislead the public.

Next: Perverting Peer Review?

0 0

Bookmark and Share Printable Version  |  Link to this page

Comments

1  2  3  Next

Comments 1 to 50 out of 101:

  1. I think I've uncovered evidence of a MASSIVE CONSPIRACY to rob the public of taxes and impose a world government. A quick search on Web of Science reveals HUNDREDS of articles using the word 'trick' in the title. A random sampling from a broad range of disciplines produced a 357-long list - here are just a few. So see - everyone from mathematicians to physicists to doctors are trying to pull the wool over your eyes. WAKE UP SHEEPLZ!!! [I'm particularly alarmed by 'a very simple trick to control CO2', number 11... :) ]

    1. G Yoneda, H Shinkai, and A Nakamichi, “Trick for passing degenerate points in the Ashtekar formulation,” PHYSICAL REVIEW D 56, no. 4 (August 15, 1997): 2086-2093.

    2. DV Vassilevich, “The Faddeev-Popov trick in the presence of boundaries,” PHYSICS LETTERS B 421, no. 1-4 (March 5, 1998): 93-98.

    3. DR Chen, “On the splitting trick and wavelet frame packets,” SIAM JOURNAL ON MATHEMATICAL ANALYSIS 31, no. 4 (April 4, 2000): 726-739.

    4. V King and M Thorup, “A space saving trick for directed dynamic transitive closure and shortest path algorithms,” COMPUTING AND COMBINATORICS 2108 (2001): 268-277.

    5. E Dumas-Gaudot et al., “A technical trick for studying proteomics in parallel to transcriptomics in symbiotic root-fungus interactions,” PROTEOMICS 4, no. 2 (February 2004): 451-453.

    6. S Echterhoff and I Raeburn, “The stabilisation trick for coactions,” JOURNAL FUR DIE REINE UND ANGEWANDTE MATHEMATIK 470 (1996): 181-215.

    7. EB DAVIES, “The Twisting Trick for Double Well Hamiltonians,” Communications in Mathematical Physics 85, no. 3 (1982): 471-479.

    8. KS SARKARIA, “A One-Dimensional Whitney Trick and Kuratowski Graph Planarity Criterion,” Israel Journal of Mathematics 73, no. 1 (1991): 79-89.

    9. B Scholkopf, “The kernel trick for distances,” ADVANCES IN NEURAL INFORMATION PROCESSING SYSTEMS 13 13 (2001): 301-307.

    10. TG Erler and N Mann, “Integrable open spin chains and the doubling trick in N=2 SYM with fundamental matter,” JOURNAL OF HIGH ENERGY PHYSICS, no. 1 (January 2006)

    11. H FIRKET, “A Very Simple Trick to Produce Controlled Co2 Concentrations in Gas Phase Overlying Cell Cultures,” EXPERIENTIA 25, no. 6 (1969): 671-&.

    12. AR Champneys and WB Fraser, “The 'Indian rope trick' for a parametrically excited flexible rod: linearized analysis,” PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF LONDON SERIES A-MATHEMATICAL 456, no. 1995 (March 8, 2000): 553-570.

    13. D Vorwerk et al., “A simple trick to facilitate bleeding control after percutaneous hemodialysis fistula and graft interventions,” CARDIOVASCULAR AND INTERVENTIONAL RADIOLOGY 20, no. 2 (April 1997): 159-160.

    14. Y Fu et al., “Exploiting the kernel trick to correlate fragment ions for peptide identification via tandem mass spectrometry,” BIOINFORMATICS 20, no. 12 (August 12, 2004): 1948-1954.

    15. J KURCHAN, “Replica Trick to Calculate Means of Absolute Values - Applications to Stochastic-Equations,” Journal of Physics a-Mathematical and General 24, no. 21 (November 7, 1991): 4969-4979.
    0 0
  2. In paragraph 23 of the Executive Summary of the Muir Russell Review (section 1.3.2 - p13) it is written:-

    "We do not find that it is misleading to curtail reconstructions at
    some point per se, or to splice data, but we believe that both of these procedures should have been made plain – ideally in the figure but certainly clearly described in either the caption or the text."

    Since the decline was neither "made plain" nor "clearly described in either the caption or the text", it is clear that the Russell review concluded that the opus in question was misleading because it did not reliably present the evidence derived by the investigators researches.
    0 0
  3. damorbel: just supposing for a moment that you're right - do you not think your energies might be better spent pursuing some of the massively misleading misinformation about climate science that's been put out over the last year, rather than continuing to concentrate on this sort of thing?
    0 0
  4. damorbel, are you aware that John MacLean recently released a paper in which he "Hides the Incline" in global temperatures-by splicing together the temperature anomalies for weather balloons & satellites (which operate off a different base-line: 1961-1990 for weather balloons, & 1979-2000 for Satellites) without informing the readers that he had done so. Yet still skeptics hold up this paper as "proof" that global warming is simply the result of ENSO. Funny the double standard they apply.

    What matters here is that the decline in temperatures supposedly "revealed" by the Tree-ring data says more about the unreliability of dendrochronology-alone-as a determinant of past climate change (as tree rings can be impacted by things *other* than temperature). It most certainly shouldn't supersede the direct measurements we have at our disposal-from both ground based & satellite sources-all of which are telling us that the planet is warming at an *accelerated* rate!
    0 0
  5. Me personally, I feel that they *should* have retained the divergence in full-to back the argument for the need for more proxies in determining climate change *before* direct measurements were available. Of course, we have those tools at our disposal now (like Ca/Mg ratios, Hydrogen & Oxygen Isotope Ratios, changes in plant seed types, boreholes etc etc) & they all say the same thing-that NH temperatures over at least the last 1300 years were almost certainly *cooler* than they have been over the last 30 years. Nothing the Contrarians say can alter that simple fact, yet still you here them parroting the phrase "Hide The Decline", instead of actually *thinking* for a change!
    0 0
  6. For the record, James, I was under the impression that the divergence was the result of increasingly common drought conditions over the last 30-50 years. The whole point of tree-rings as proxies is the assumption that "warmer temperatures equals thicker tree rings". Of course prolonged drought will cause significantly smaller tree rings-no matter how *warm* it is-& so the reliability of tree rings as a proxy becomes less certain. That's why its always good to have past rainfall data to cross-check your tree ring data to!
    0 0
  7. Re #3 "rather than continuing to concentrate on this sort of thing?" I'm not concentrating on "this sort of thing" at all! I am responding to the assertion by James Wight that the CRU scientists have been cleared by the Muir Russell Review.
    0 0
    Moderator Response: The inquiry criticised a single graph on the cover of an obscure report few had heard of before the release of the CRU emails. As I explain above, the Review found nothing wrong with the overall picture painted in the literature or in the IPCC. - James
  8. Re 4 Marcus, which "double standards" are you referring to?

    Fine that you should doubt dendrochronology as a climate change indicator but it was accepted by the IPCC which clearly does not share your doubts.

    I have never seen a reasoned analysis that isolates dendrochronology as a reliable indicator of CO2 based climate change from other possible causes, instrumental record, being essentially sparse and subject to many inaccuracies, is certainly no better.
    0 0
  9. Original Post

    Another apologia intended to rationalize the clear meaning of 'hide the decline'. It means what it says.

    Jones mindset was simply that tree ring data which ran contrary to the theory (which means generally warming) would simply be hidden.

    Tricks, techniques, massaging; whatever - the intent was to hide the decline.

    The worth of the tree ring data was dubious in any case - and the bizarre antics of 'our man in Siberia' about payments reported in the NP articles is more Gilbert & Sullivan than Jones & Briffa.
    0 0
  10. Professor Phil Jones sums up (by “one sentence”), today, Climategate:

    “Hopefully they will remember me for the scientific papers I have written rather than the emails.”

    Errors must not be "intentionally manipulating" - in such an important case - simply should not be at all. I recall only the most important, what Professor Jones said earlier ( BBC. February, 2010):

    “He said this contributed to his refusal to share raw data with critics - a decision he says he regretted.”

    “... not cheated over the data, or unfairly influenced the scientific process.”

    “He said he stood by the view that recent climate warming was most likely predominantly man-made. But he agreed that two periods in recent times had experienced similar warming. And he agreed that the debate had not been settled over whether the Medieval Warm Period was warmer than the current period.”
    [Here I added: “Scientists agree that the past 40 years of tree-ring data are unreliable temperature proxies, and some argue that using them in older temperature reconstructions, as Jones has done, could understate past warm periods, including the MWP ... (Nature News)”]

    “He said many people had been made sceptical about climate change by the snow in the northern hemisphere - but they didn't realise that the satellite record from the University of Alabama in Huntsville showed it had been the warmest January since records began in 1979.[!??]”

    “His colleagues said that keeping a paper trail was not one of Professor Jones' strong points. Professor Jones told BBC News: "There is some truth in that.”

    “He strongly defended references in his emails to using a "trick" to "hide the decline" in temperatures.”

    “These phrases had been deliberately taken out of context and "spun" by sceptics keen to derail the Copenhagen climate conference, he said.”

    So much more or less significant errors, however, claims (not just a "trick"), as usual, Professor Jones (and “by” the professor - Sc. S.) was (to today) only to skeptics - guilty ! ...; and: “I [Jones] did wonder why they [scientists - colleagues] didn't go to the media and say the same things they were saying to me.”
    0 0
  11. damorbel wrote : "Since the decline was neither "made plain" nor "clearly described in either the caption or the text", it is clear that the Russell review concluded that the opus in question was misleading because it did not reliably present the evidence derived by the investigators researches."


    Not true, I'm afraid, since this is to do with a picture on the front page of a WMO report from 1999. It in no way affects the report itself.


    One example of this was the cover art on a WMO 1999 report which, until last November, was completely obscure (we are not aware of any mention of this report or this figure before November in any blogospheric discussion, ever). Nonetheless, in the way of these things, this figure is now described as ‘an icon’ in the Muir Russell report (one of their very few mistakes, how can something be an icon if no-one has ever seen it?). In retrospect (and as we stated last year) we agree with the Muir Russell report that the caption and description of the figure could indeed have been clearer, particularly with regard to the way proxy and instrumental data sources were spliced into a single curve, without indicating which was which. The WMO cover figure appears (at least to our knowledge) to be the only instance where that was done. Moving forward, nonetheless, it is advisable that scientists be as clear as possible about what sorts of procedures have gone into the preparation of a figure. But retrospective applications of evolving standards are neither fair nor useful.

    Real Climate
    0 0
  12. KL #9

    "'hide the decline'. It means what it says [...] Jones mindset was simply that tree ring data which ran contrary to the theory (which means generally warming) would simply be hidden."

    This interpretation is clearly utterly incorrect, as noted by the fact that you do not properly define what is meant by the 'decline' - I'm guessing that you are aware that doing so would be an explicit acknoledgement that your case does not stand to scrutiny.

    The 'decline' is the divergence between the proxy record and the instrumental record for a particular point in the time series. While alternative data could be used for this point in the time series, typically this would take more space to explain in the paper, and distract [1] from the findings, which are clearly pretty robust.

    On the other hand your post is an excellent apologia for the intellectually bankrupt so-called-sceptic mindset. Why are you wasting your time with this? Is it because you like wasting other people's time, or is it a deep seated psychological denial?

    [1] Some time ago I worked for someone who likes to spell everything out in mind-numbing detail in the papers that he writes . His acceptance rate is pretty poor, his writing is turgid, and generally it's difficult to understand the message that he's trying to get across because of his obsession with dealing with every minuted detail. Much better to deal with more condensed works where the reviewers have an understanding of the kinds of tricks needed to keep work to a manageable length.
    0 0
  13. It has become evident from the dogma of many commenting here that the findings of the Muir Russell Commission, as documented in The Independent Climate Change E-mails Review, July 2010, has gone unread (as well as the rest of the report, in all likelihood).

    Just so no-one can claim furthermore to be unawares:

    1.3 Findings

    13. Climate science is a matter of such global importance, that the highest standards of honesty, rigour and openness are needed in its conduct. On the specific allegations made against the behaviour of CRU scientists, we find that their rigour and honesty as scientists are not in doubt.

    14. In addition, we do not find that their behaviour has prejudiced the balance of advice given to policy makers. In particular, we did not find any evidence of behaviour that might undermine the conclusions of the IPCC assessments.

    15. But we do find that there has been a consistent pattern of failing to display the proper degree of openness, both on the part of the CRU scientists and on the part of the UEA, who failed to recognise not only the significance of statutory requirements but also the risk to the reputation of the University and, indeed, to the credibility of UK climate science.

    1.3.1 Land Station Temperatures

    16. On the allegation of withholding temperature data, we find that CRU was not in a position to withhold access to such data or tamper with it. We demonstrated that any independent researcher can download station data directly from primary sources and undertake their own temperature trend analysis.

    17. On the allegation of biased station selection and analysis, we find no evidence of bias. Our work indicates that analysis of global land temperature trends is robust to a range of station selections and to the use of adjusted or unadjusted data. The level of agreement between independent analyses is such that it is highly unlikely that CRU could have acted improperly to reach a predetermined outcome. Such action would have required collusion with multiple scientists in various independent organisations which we consider highly improbable.

    18. On the allegation of withholding station identifiers we find that CRU should have made available an unambiguous list of the stations used in each of the versions of the Climatic Research Unit Land Temperature Record (CRUTEM) at the time of publication. We find that CRU's responses to reasonable requests for information were unhelpful and defensive.

    19. The overall implication of the allegations was to cast doubt on the extent to which CRU's work in this area could be trusted and should be relied upon and we find no evidence to support that implication.

    1.3.2 Temperature Reconstructions from Tree Ring Analysis

    20. The central implication of the allegations here is that in carrying out their work, both in the choices they made of data and the way in which it was handled, CRU scientists intended to bias the scientific conclusions towards a specific result and to set aside inconvenient evidence. More specifically, it was implied in the allegations that this should reduce the confidence ascribed to the conclusions in Chapter 6 of the IPCC 4th Report, Working Group 1 (WG1).

    21. We do not find that the way that data derived from tree rings is described and presented in IPCC AR4 and shown in its Figure 6.10 is misleading. In particular, on the question of the composition of temperature reconstructions, we found no evidence of exclusion of other published temperature reconstructions that would show a very different picture. The general discussion of sources of uncertainty in the text is extensive, including reference to divergence. In this respect it represented a significant advance on the IPCC Third Assessment Report (TAR).

    22. On the allegation that the phenomenon of “divergence” may not have been properly taken into account when expressing the uncertainty associated with reconstructions, we are satisfied that it is not hidden and that the subject is openly and extensively discussed in the literature, including CRU papers.

    23. On the allegation that the references in a specific e-mail to a "trick" and to "hide the decline" in respect of a 1999 WMO report figure show evidence of intent to paint a misleading picture, we find that, given its subsequent iconic significance (not least the use of a similar figure in the IPCC Third Assessment Report), the figure supplied for the WMO Report was misleading. We do not find that it is misleading to curtail reconstructions at some point per se, or to splice data, but we believe that both of these procedures should have been made plain – ideally in the figure but certainly clearly described in either the caption or the text.

    24. On the allegations in relation to withholding data, in particular concerning the small sample size of the tree ring data from the Yamal peninsula, CRU did not withhold the underlying raw data (having correctly directed the single request to the owners). But it is evidently true that access to the raw data was not simple until it was archived in 2009 and that this delay can rightly be criticized on general principles. In the interests of transparency, we believe that CRU should have ensured that the data they did not own, but on which their publications relied, was archived in a more timely way.

    1.3.3 Peer Review and Editorial Policy

    25. On the allegations that there was subversion of the peer review or editorial process we find no evidence to substantiate this in the three instances examined in detail. On the basis of the independent work we commissioned (see Appendix 5) on the nature of peer review, we conclude that it is not uncommon for strongly opposed and robustly expressed positions to be taken up in heavily contested areas of science. We take the view that such behaviour does not in general threaten the integrity of peer review or publication.

    1.3.4 Misuse of IPCC Process

    26. On the allegations that in two specific cases there had been a misuse by CRU scientists of the IPCC process, in presenting AR4 to the public and policy makers, we find that the allegations cannot be upheld. In addition to taking evidence from them and checking the relevant records of the IPCC process, we have consulted the relevant IPCC review Editors. Both the CRU scientists were part of large groups of scientists taking joint responsibility for the relevant IPCC Working Group texts, and were not in a position to determine individually the final wording and content.

    1.3.5 Compliance with the Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) and the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR)

    27. On the allegation that CRU does not appear to have acted in a way consistent with the spirit and intent of the FoIA or EIR, we find that there was unhelpfulness in responding to requests and evidence that e-mails might have been deleted in order to make them unavailable should a subsequent request be made for them. University senior management should have accepted more responsibility for implementing the required processes for FoIA and EIR compliance.

    1.3.6 Other Findings on Governance

    28. Given the significance of the work of CRU, UEA management failed to recognise in their risk management the potential for damage to the University's reputation fuelled by the controversy over data access.

    1.4 Recommendations

    29. Our main recommendations for UEA are as follows: Risk management processes should be directed to ensuring top management engagement in areas which have the potential to impact the reputation of the university. Compliance with FoIA/EIR is the responsibility of UEA faculty leadership and ultimately the Vice-Chancellor. Where there is an organisation and documented system in place to handle information requests, this needs to be owned, supported and reinforced by University leadership. CRU should make available sufficient information, concurrent with any publications, to enable others to replicate their results.

    1.5 Broader Issues

    30. Our work in conducting the Review has led us to identify a number of issues relevant not only to the climate science debate but also possibly more widely, on which we wish to comment briefly.

    31. The nature of scientific challenge. We note that much of the challenge to CRU‘s work has not always followed the conventional scientific method of checking and seeking to falsify conclusions or offering alternative hypotheses for peer review and publication. We believe this is necessary if science is to move on, and we hope that all those involved on all sides of the climate science debate will adopt this approach.

    32. Handling Uncertainty – where policy meets science. Climate science is an area that exemplifies the importance of ensuring that policy makers – particularly Governments and their advisers, Non-Governmental Organisations and other lobbyists – understand the limits on what scientists can say and with what degree of confidence. Statistical and other techniques for explaining uncertainty have developed greatly in recent years, and it is essential that they are properly deployed. But equally important is the need for alternative viewpoints to be recognized in policy presentations, with a robust assessment of their validity, and for the challenges to be rooted in science rather than rhetoric.

    33. Peer review - what it can/cannot deliver. We believe that peer review is an essential part of the process of judging scientific work, but it should not be overrated as a guarantee of the validity of individual pieces of research, and the significance of challenge to individual publication decisions should be not exaggerated.

    34. Openness and FoIA. We support the spirit of openness enshrined in the FoIA and the EIR. It is unfortunate that this was not embraced by UEA, and we make recommendations about that. A well thought through publication scheme would remove much potential for disruption by the submission of multiple requests for information. But at the level of public policy there is need for further thinking about the competing arguments for the timing of full disclosure of research data and associated computer codes etc, as against considerations of confidentiality during the conduct of research. There is much scope for unintended consequences that could hamper research: US experience is instructive. We recommend that the ICO should initiate a debate on these wider issues.

    35. Handling the blogosphere and non traditional scientific dialogue. One of the most obvious features of the climate change debate is the influence of the blogosphere. This provides an opportunity for unmoderated comment to stand alongside peer reviewed publications; for presentations or lectures at learned conferences to be challenged without inhibition; and for highly personalized critiques of individuals and their work to be promulgated without hindrance. This is a fact of life, and it would be foolish to challenge its existence. The Review team would simply urge all scientists to learn to communicate their work in ways that the public can access and understand. That said, a key issue is how scientists should be supported to explain their position, and how a public space can be created where these debates can be conducted on appropriate terms, where what is and is not uncertain can be recognised.

    36. Openness and Reputation. An important feature of the blogosphere is the extent to which it demands openness and access to data. A failure to recognise this and to act appropriately, can lead to immense reputational damage by feeding allegations of cover up. Being part of a like minded group may provide no defence. Like it or not, this indicates a transformation in the way science has to be conducted in this century.

    37. Role of Research Sponsors. One of the issues facing the Review was the release of data. At various points in the report we have commented on the formal requirements for this. We consider that it would make for clarity for researchers if funders were to be completely clear upfront in their requirements for the release of data (as well as its archiving, curation etc).

    38. The IPCC. We welcome the IPCC‘s decision to review its processes, and can only stress the importance of capturing the range of viewpoints and reflecting appropriately the statistical uncertainties surrounding the data it assesses. Our conclusions do not make a judgement on the work of IPCC, though we acknowledge the importance of its advice to policy makers.

    The Yooper
    0 0
  14. And “one more” conclusion: if the CRU had obviously, in some cases, such defective data (it is not their fault?), why they work (errors ?) As easy pass "screen" review process? ... and why these works - papers; have become the basis for the IPCC report ?

    According to me, these errors are not the result of "natural scientific process" (which tries to convince us here) Their cause lies in the lack of knowledge of scientific methodology, indeed: "go for shortcuts."

    When something good "fit" to our theory, We simply verify this theory a less; or do not accurate ...

    Professor Weiner known in Poland and the U.S. expert on the "theory of scientific research", says that for the “sake of science”, the skeptics in the process of falsification of scientific theory (in each case) ..., really: They can do EVERYTHING (!), that: History of Science teaches us, that any attempt to restrict this process: they were ALWAYS to the detriment of science ... (note particularly good for # 11 and # 12)

    Dear supporters of AGW theory, if you're right, you have to its just enough to "accurately" to prove - it's easy ... No more "shortcuts" and "tricks" - literally and figuratively.
    0 0
  15. Arkadiusz Semczyszak wrote : "And “one more” conclusion: if the CRU had obviously, in some cases, such defective data (it is not their fault?), why they work (errors ?) As easy pass "screen" review process? ... and why these works - papers; have become the basis for the IPCC report ?"


    I'm not entirely sure what you are claiming here but if you have some information about that "defective data" and those "errors", or those "papers", could you be more specific and clearly state what they are.
    0 0
  16. Re #11 JMurphy "Not true" What's not true? the text isbasically one of a number (no. 23) of distinct conclusions produced by the Muir Review, do you disagree with that?

    "I'm afraid, since this is to do with a picture on the front page of a WMO report from 1999. It in no way affects the report itself" What am I supposed to understand from that? WMO generally do not hide their docs behind a paywall, a link should be available - please!

    Daniel Bailey #13 What was the point of all that text? You don't make anything of it and links are available. Intellectual snowballs like that indicate to me an unwillingness to engage on the matter under discussion.
    0 0
  17. Re damorbel: You were not singled out (else I would have directed you to read the report); read my preface to my comment. But while I have you on the line, #23 makes it clear that the WMO figure was misleading because it should have been better explained. So, other than being taken to task for sloppy record keeping anf for having a kind of crappy attitude, just what do you think the Review found CRU guilty of? (BTW, emails all are backed up on servers, as Wegman is to find out)
    0 0
  18. damorbel wrote : ""Not true" What's not true? the text isbasically one of a number (no. 23) of distinct conclusions produced by the Muir Review, do you disagree with that?"


    Sorry I didn't spell it out. When you wrote that "the Russell review concluded that the opus in question was misleading because it did not reliably present the evidence derived by the investigators researches", that is not true.

    It DID present the evidence. The picture was deemed misleading because, although one of the series was truncated post 1960 and proxy and instrumental data were spliced together, neither of those procedures were made plain, either within the figure itself (as a caption, for example) or within the text contained in the report. The report in fact states that it is NOT misleading to curtail reconstructions or to splice data - just that it should be made clear.
    Here is a link to the full report, for reference.

    As for the WMO Report (a short annual document produced within the World Climate Data and Monitoring Programme), the figure in question was the frontispiece of the 1990 Report and it can easily be found if you search. But, to make it easy for you, here it is.
    0 0
  19. 1999 Report...
    0 0
  20. Ken Lambert @9.... Hmmm... So, they were "hiding" data known to be erroneous by replacing it with "real temps?"

    I'm a little confused here.

    Do you have a particular argument with the real temps? Do you think tree rings present a more accurate indicator of modern temps than do thermometer readings?
    0 0
  21. Ken Lambert:

    Another apologia intended to rationalize the clear meaning of 'hide the decline'. It means what it says.

    A lot of "skeptics" seem to feel that assertion is the same thing as evidence. It isn't. In fact, the statement in question "means what it says" within a context and tradition you refuse to understand, let alone acknowledge, because doing so would rob you of the flimsy weapon you're waving around.

    Clinging to this absurd narrative in 2010 requires logical contortions, wishful thinking and misinterpretations of data that go far beyond anything in the stolen, cherrypicked Climategate e-mails.

    It's also funny how "skeptics" always seem to ignore the Nature part of this "trick." Presenting one's methodology clearly in the pages of the world's foremost science journal seems like a pretty careless way to run a global conspiracy.

    As I see it, beating the dead horse of Climategate is simply an attempt to "hide the decline" in respectable counterarguments against AGW. It's a more aggressive, and sillier, way of saying "I got nothin'."
    0 0
  22. #14 (Arkadiusz): since you are on the topic of tricks, do you or professor Weiner have any comments on the fact that Spencer and Christy for years used a trick (not compensating for drift) to understate the warming signal in the satellite data, in order to fit their theory of no warming. (they later claimed it was by accident, but seing how the 2010 data are again being tweaked repeatedly to bring anomalies down, that seems less likely than before).
    0 0
  23. Re #18 "The report in fact states that it is NOT misleading to curtail reconstructions or to splice data - just that it should be made clear.
    Here is a link to the full report, for reference."

    That really isn't good enough. The IPCC adopted the thesis that the planetary temperature was rising monotonically "as demonstrated by the dendrochronological records", this wasn't (and isn't) true. The dendrochronological records showed a decline of the temperature as measured by this method.

    In order to maintain this dendrochronological fiction, the instrumental records were substituted for the dendrochronological ones in the 20thC part without identifying that they were quite different since the method and location of the measurements were different; like was not being compared with like.

    This sort of 'stuff' is wildly unscientific since the method of doing measurements is just as much part of the record as the actual measured values in any scientific research.

    The Muir Russell inquiry was bending over backwards not to cause damage to fellow academics by giving them as much benefit of the doubt as possible but they could not in conscience fail to note the glaring inconsistencies in the work of CRU and by extension the reports of the IPCC. The inquiry members knew full well that the consequences of such an omission would have destroyed their own reputations, they were only too aware of what would happen if the did not cover all aspects of the affair should their report be examined in detail like I am doing now.
    0 0
    Moderator Response: It was right to give the CRU scientists the benefit of the doubt. The accused is always innocent until proven guilty. - James
  24. Phila @21,

    I think it is time to start ignoring KL and the other 'skeptics' here...really what is the point? They are not making any substantive contributions to these threads, but just parroting myths and fallacious contrarian speaking points. Is it really almost 2011? Their minds have clearly long ago been made up, and a truck-load of facts would be unable to sway their belief system by even an infinitesimal amount.

    I suppose directing the 'skeptics' here to articles published in the scientific literature of the divergence problem.......and the fact that is, IIRC, limited to one set of dendro data (Yamal) from Eurasia. I can provide some references if others are interested.

    This exercise is a fascinating, but scary, insight into denialism and the propensity of "skeptics" to entertain conpsiracy theories. Not sure whether or not that was the intent of Wight's posts, but it sure is working beautifully. It is also illustrating beautifully how the 'skeptics" are desperately clinging onto long-debunked myths to reinforce their misguided beliefs. Quite sad really.
    0 0
  25. Phila wrote : "A lot of "skeptics" seem to feel that assertion is the same thing as evidence. It isn't. In fact, the statement in question "means what it says" within a context and tradition you refuse to understand, let alone acknowledge, because doing so would rob you of the flimsy weapon you're waving around."


    You could almost understand the so-called skeptics getting excited and flustered, etc. when the emails first came out, because they are easily excited and flustered and they thought they had just discovered the silver bullet that was going to kill the scary AGW monster. Most people reserved judgement, of course, but we had to give the so-called skeptics the opportunity to blow off a bit of steam - in the hope that, after the event, they would realise there was nothing to get excited about and, maybe, that they would feel embarrassed about the fuss they made. Maybe, even, it would make some of them more careful, and less trusting of those who were making wild claims.
    Sadly, most of them took it in their stride and either tried to ignore what had happened or diverted onto other myths and legends they still believed in.

    In the end, though, those who are still trying to make capital out of this (even after all the explanations and enquiries) are either too deep into denial to be able to come out and admit that they will never accept AGW, no matter what; or they are taking the p**s, not acting in good faith, or wilfully trying to subvert and divert any argument just for the hell of it.

    I think this website should be more aware of such tactics (maybe you are ?) and not allow false and baseless assertions be made time and again by the same posters.

    PS This is not a call for censorship, before any poor, unfortunate, conspiracy-believing skeptic thinks it is : it is a call for honest, good-faith, credible debate.
    0 0
  26. Damorbel,

    You really need to please, please read up more on this. You completely misunderstand the role of the dendro data, what it constitutes, and what is represents. The multiple inquiries all figured it out, what is preventing you from doing so? I can post links to some papers if you like.
    0 0
  27. JMurphy @25,

    I second that. But mark my words, they wil be screaming "censorship" from the rooftop. These zombie arguments seem, IMHO, a form of passive-aggressive trolling.
    0 0
  28. Ken Lambert:
    "Another apologia intended to rationalize the clear meaning of 'hide the decline'. It means what it says."

    Nothing ever means what it says.
    Why?
    Because when we read something, we impose our prejudices on it.
    0 0
  29. damorbel wrote : "The IPCC adopted the thesis that the planetary temperature was rising monotonically "as demonstrated by the dendrochronological records", this wasn't (and isn't) true. The dendrochronological records showed a decline of the temperature as measured by this method."


    The only part of that paragraph that is in any way correct is "this wasn't (and isn't) true".



    "The IPCC adopted the thesis that the planetary temperature was rising monotonically..."

    No they didn't.


    "...as demonstrated by the dendrochronological records..."

    Is someone supposed to guess where this quote comes from ? If so, after a GOOGLE search, I have discovered that it comes from you here. Or did you have another source ?


    "...this wasn't (and isn't) true."

    Correct.


    "The dendrochronological records showed a decline of the temperature as measured by this method."

    What all the records ? Are you sure ? Perhaps you'd better post a few links to some.
    0 0
  30. CBC's Quirks and Quarks had an interesting segment Saturday. The paper is, Tree Ring Evidence for limited direct C02 fertilization of forests over the 20th century, by Ze'ev Gedalof, in Global Biochemical Cycles.

    The finding that world wide, only 20% of trees showed changes with C02 level rises. Further, the growth differences were unprdictable for species and location.

    This randomness makes one think that not using suspect data may be good science.
    0 0
  31. John McManus @30

    The dendrochronology records are used as proxies for temperature, not CO2 levels.
    0 0
  32. Re #26 Albatross "You completely misunderstand the role of the dendro data, what it constitutes, and what is represents."

    Interesting comment since I have not made any comment on the dendro data, only on the remarks in the Russell report about the CRU presentation where they 1/combine the data from different locations 2/using different methods 3/without explanation.

    The Russell Review said that 1/ and 2/ were perfectly feasible but they could not support 3/
    0 0
  33. John McManus@30.

    The issue you raise as Phil says, is different to temperature.
    Actually what you have pointed out is that CO2 isn't 'plant food' for many species.
    Which contradicts another skeptic meme.
    0 0
  34. Link to the paper that John McManus has referenced:

    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2010/2009GB003699.shtml
    0 0
  35. I really wish an editorial decision to not use the word 'climategate' was made. It implies malfeasance and therefore primes the reader to assume the worst. It plays in to the Deniers' hands.

    'Stolen CRU emails' - not 'climategate'.
    0 0
    Moderator Response: The first post in the series was called "The Fake Scandal of Climategate", but I decided that was too long to repeat in all the titles. I guess what I was getting at was that the true scandal is the unfounded attacks on climate scientists and their credulous repetition by the media. - James
  36. Damorbel @32,

    For goodness' sakes please stop playing games--you have commented on the dendro data. Please read JMurphy's post @29 made in response to your post @23. Your post @23 set off alarm bells for me too (see my post @26)--JMurphy provided a very eloquent deconstruction of your 'argument'. Interesting that you chose to ignore Murphy's post @29.....
    0 0
  37. David @35,

    I agree. Personally, I think that "SwiftHack" is a far better description of what actually transpired.
    0 0
  38. Clearly you didn't understand my previous damorbel, or are willfully misreading it. My point is that Dendrochronology alone should *never* be used as a substitute for *real* temperature data, where it is available, & this divergence issue proves it. As I said, there is strong evidence to suggest that sustained drought can result in a significant reduction in tree-ring size. To claim that Satellite & Ground Based temperature readings are less reliable than tree-rings, though, is arrant contrarian *nonsense*. After *years* of trying to debunk ground-based measurements using the UHI effect, all that the contrarians have succeeded in doing is proving how similar the temperature anomalies at rural & city-based measurements are. That the greatest amounts of warming being detected-in space & on the ground-are actually in areas devoid of cities just further reveals the nonsense of claiming the temperature data to be unreliable. Strange, though, how direct temperature measurements become the Holy Grail for contrarians the moment they think it will "prove" cooling. Can't have it both ways guys!
    0 0
  39. DavidCOG... Once a word like this is in the vernacular it's almost impossible to remove. It's there, we have to accept it. BUT what we can do is turn that word's meaning around. With time I believe "climategate" is going to become synonymous with "manufactured scandal."
    0 0
  40. JMurphy @ 25:

    I think this website should be more aware of such tactics (maybe you are ?) and not allow false and baseless assertions be made time and again by the same posters.

    I tend to agree. Although to be fair, I can see how it might be too much work to go back and check whether "skeptic" A already made assertion X in a previous thread.

    I do think all comments that rant about "hiding the decline" could be deleted with no ill effect. The facts here are easily accessible to laypeople, and there's no excuse for getting them wrong at this point. IMO, complaining about this "trick" should be treated as a willful, baseless accusation of dishonesty, and deleted accordingly. If we can't move beyond an argument that's so obviously absurd, it's hard to see how we can make any progress on more complex topics.
    0 0
  41. RE# 24 Albatros and others:

    I would hate you guys to give up. I don't have enough time to contribute much to SS but I always make time to read through the comments. So whilst trying to appeal directly to contrarians might seem to be in vain, it is the casual fence sitters that your comments will reach out too.

    Time and time again by reading through the comments one can easily deduce that the 'skeptics' are not in the business of trying to educate the reader. It is one thing to cry out and disagree with data, methods or 3 or 4 lines of an email but another thing to give evidence based reasons. The best comments on this site always link to peer reviewed papers or other relevant information (Something the skeptics can't seem to do).

    Don't let the mariner shoot you down!

    At length did cross an Albatross,
    Thorough the fog it came;
    0 0
  42. darmorbel wrote : "In order to maintain this dendrochronological fiction, the instrumental records were substituted for the dendrochronological ones in the 20thC part without identifying that they were quite different since the method and location of the measurements were different; like was not being compared with like."


    This is quite a confusing sentence. To make yourself clearer, could you answer the following questions :

    Do you believe all "dendrochronological" data is fiction, or are you referring to a particular set of data ?

    Do you believe that "dendrochronological" data (i.e. temperature reconstruction) gives a more accurate reading for temperature in the 20th Century than thermometers ?

    Have you ever heard of the Divergence Problem ?

    What are you referring to when you write "the method and location of the measurements were different" ?
    0 0
  43. Yocta @41,

    Thanks. It does get awfully tiresome playing at whack-a-mole though. Fortunately this site is frequented by many informed and dedicated people/scientists, so we all share the burden.

    Anyhow, it is encouraging that the efforts of people like JMurphy and others are not going unnoticed.

    Here is a Google search for those wanting to read up on the alleged "hidden" divergence problem.
    0 0
  44. darmorbel wrote : "The Muir Russell inquiry was bending over backwards not to cause damage to fellow academics by giving them as much benefit of the doubt as possible but they could not in conscience fail to note the glaring inconsistencies in the work of CRU and by extension the reports of the IPCC. The inquiry members knew full well that the consequences of such an omission would have destroyed their own reputations, they were only too aware of what would happen if the did not cover all aspects of the affair should their report be examined in detail like I am doing now."


    Ah, the crux of the matter, as far as you're concerned : it was all a big conspiracy (along with all those other enquiries, which came to the same result), but you have exposed the hidden truth by your dogged determination. Of course.
    0 0
  45. Albatross:

    I think it is time to start ignoring KL and the other 'skeptics' here...really what is the point? They are not making any substantive contributions to these threads, but just parroting myths and fallacious contrarian speaking points.

    I hope it's not out of line to say that I currently can't take any of the regular "skeptics" here very seriously, or see them as adequately honest or coherent in their approach to the evidence for AGW. That said, arguments that have some basis in fact or logic do deserve a response, IMO. As do disagreements, honest or otherwise, about the correct course of action.

    But I do think we're at the point where conspiracy theories could simply be deleted (or edited out of otherwise substantive comments). And I'd interpret "conspiracy theory" pretty broadly, to include (for instance) darmorbel's attempt at mind-reading in #23. There's really nothing constructive or interesting about this sort of slanderous, evidence-free rhetoric.

    It's very easy for me to say this, of course. I don't have to do the work or make the decisions!
    0 0
  46. Phila @45,

    Thanks. Good points. It was not intentional, but a re-read of what I said earlier could be easily interpreted in a much too general a sense, and I can see why some might object to what I said. So let me clarify.

    Of course, like many here, I welcome different points of view which are grounded in science, and also welcome posters genuinely wanting to learn and understand what is going on. Challenging the science is a good thing, but IMHO, it has to be done with sincerity, an open mid (i.e., one must be open to new ideas and willing to change your position) and arguments (from both sides) need to be supported by facts from reputable/trustworthy sources.

    On the other hand, I think it is not constructive to address comments which are clearly baiting people, or which allude to conspiracies etc., especially when unsupported and when said myth has been refuted over-and-over again. Can the 'skeptics' please check their conspiracies at the door, and leave that sort of nonsense for the tabloids?

    FWIW, I have learnt much by observing from the side lines here, and have only recently plucked up the courage to actually post on certain topics to which I think I can add some value.

    SS is one of the very few web sites where one can come and discuss climate science without it spiraling into a food fight and yelling match, and where one can avoid threads being hi-jacked or spammed with unsupported conspiracy theories. John and the moderators have done an incredible job in that regard-- it must require a lot of work and diligence to achieve that.

    That said, I have noticed in the last few weeks that the 'skeptics' have been deviating more and more from the science, and while that might simply be a sign that they are becoming increasingly desperate, it spoils the experience for others and detracts from the science.

    Hopefully things will get back on track once the anniversary of SwiftHack passes.
    0 0
  47. Quite right Arkadiusz Semczyszak - you dogged reversion to actual quotations is key to this debate.

    “His colleagues said that keeping a paper trail was not one of Professor Jones' strong points. Professor Jones told BBC News: "There is some truth in that.”

    kdkd and I debated elsewhere that Prof Jones actually 'lost' the original data upon which the main global temperature reconstructions were based - HADCRUT etc.

    Could someone update us on this?

    Prof Jones was subjected to extreme pressure by the media and it no doubt affected his mental state. Such is the lot of someone who provides the scientific basis for a massive global effort to rapidly change from our main source of energy (fossil fuels) to something else.

    A rude awakening to the real world of great economies and massive interests indeed - but something inevitable and difficult to handle for a shy academic used to the gentler punch-ups of the academic world.
    0 0
  48. Moderator,

    "Prof Jones was subjected to extreme pressure by the media and it no doubt affected his mental state. Such is the lot of someone who provides the scientific basis for a massive global effort to rapidly change from our main source of energy (fossil fuels) to something else."

    Please, do we really need to entertain these ideological rants? In fact, that quote above could be construed as a veiled threat against anyone working in the field of climate science who supports the theory of AGW.
    0 0
  49. Albatross@46:

    It was not intentional, but a re-read of what I said earlier could be easily interpreted in a much too general a sense, and I can see why some might object to what I said. So let me clarify.

    I wasn't objecting, by any means. I think we're basically in "violent agreement," as the saying is.

    KL @47

    kdkd and I debated elsewhere that Prof Jones actually 'lost' the original data upon which the main global temperature reconstructions were based - HADCRUT etc.

    "The original raw data are not “lost.” I could reconstruct what we had from U.S. Department of Energy reports we published in the mid-1980s. I would start with the GHCN data. I know that the effort would be a complete waste of time, though....The documentation of what we’ve done is all in the literature."

    Apropos of what Albatross was saying above, the armchair psychoanalysis that follows KL's HADCRUT question is a very good example of how "the 'skeptics' have been deviating more and more from the science."
    0 0
  50. Phila writes: But I do think we're at the point where conspiracy theories could simply be deleted (or edited out of otherwise substantive comments).

    Normally this site takes a pretty firm line against conspiracy theories of any stripe ("All skeptics are in the pay of Big Oil", "Climate scientists are faking the data").

    The problem is that the entire UEA emails brouhaha was basically one nonstop conspiracy theory. So in the current series of posts about the emails, it's hard to enforce the normal rules banning discussion of conspiracy theories -- that's what these threads are about!

    I do hope that once we've worked through all these UEA emails threads and are back on discussion of the science, people can act like grownups and drop the conspiracy-mongering. IMHO it's like junk food for skeptics -- it tastes sweet, so they gobble it up, but there's no nutritional content.
    0 0

1  2  3  Next

You need to be logged in to post a comment. Login via the left margin or if you're new, register here.



The Consensus Project Website

TEXTBOOK

THE ESCALATOR

(free to republish)

THE DEBUNKING HANDBOOK

BOOK NOW AVAILABLE

The Scientific Guide to
Global Warming Skepticism

Smartphone Apps

iPhone
Android
Nokia

© Copyright 2014 John Cook
Home | Links | Translations | About Us | Contact Us