Posted by Jeff Condon on September 20, 2009
This is what I imagine climatology school is like.
Today as paleoclimatology is becoming a sophisticated and mature science we have thousands of young students scouring the earth looking for other proxies for which to measure temperature. It’s important that these students have the best education and understanding possible such that the mistakes of the past don’t get repeated. In this post we’ll review a few items which at first glance may contain temperature signals, however on careful examination are not ‘actual’ thermometers. The purpose of this study is to prevent otherwise potentially embarrassing mistakes.
#1 – A garden hose. Like Venus flytraps for the unwary climatologist, these things are laying around everywhere, tempting and teasing. However, no matter which way they are coiled their shape should not be construed as or mistaken for temperature. Don’t be embarrassed,you’re not the first to look longingly at its twists and turns. It’s an easy mistake for certain which can only be avoided through proper education.
2 – Bowl of noodles. Noodles are visually intriguing. They make all kinds of interesting patterns and can even lie side by side apparently in agreement with each other. Despite a veritable bowlful of potential correlations, beware of this hornets nest young paleo’s, noodles are not temperature.
#3 Actual hockey stick. Despite the apparent advantages to a young paleoclimatology career, don’t make this same mistake often made by even experienced climatolgists. While actual hockey sticks mysteriously do contain a ‘ghost image’ of what appears to be temperature, sophisticated instrumentation has revealed that hockey sticks are actually NOT temperature. Source – Hakley et al.
#5 – Bag of clubs. This one is a little tricky now. It turns out that while this bag of clubs has a strong relationship and high correlation to temperature, the expected signal can only be extracted from the multiple heads all pointed in different directions through sophisticated principal component mathematical analysis. At first blush, it looks like an excellent prospect, however like the hockey stick above, further analysis has determined the actual signal in the club is related to solar output and therefore is obviously not in any way related to CO2 driven temperature.
Grass clippings are the hottest new proxy. While their curvilinear shape results in a high insensitivity ratio, it turns out that temperature can be extracted from grass clippings through a careful analysis of correlation to thermometers. This results in a high scrap data rate, however studies have shown that the high rejection rate can be overcome using sophisticated bulk sample collection technologies. Some have criticized these studies as they have disingenuously shown that a negative sensitivity to temperature is equally apparent. There is a substantial amount of peer reviewed literature to the contrary however and it looks like this proxy will be discussed hotly in the coming years.
That should be good for today’s lesson. Read chapter 10 carefully for tomorrow where we’ll study the mysteries of the thermometer and the foundation of the myth in the lesser sciences that it can only be read upside right.
We’ll close with this intriguing quote from Michael Mann AKA “the Architect”.
The claim that ‘‘upside down’’ data were used is bizarre. Multivariate regression methods are insensitive to the sign of predictors.