the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

Trash Bin

Posted by Jeff Id on September 28, 2009

If you read climate blogs regularly, you must have seen the latest post at CA Yamal: A “Divergence” Problem if not you need to. As Steve points out, it’s one of the most significant posts ever at CA. The reason is more than a bit confusing though for those who don’t actually follow proxy temperature reconstructions. The hockey stick temp records are often promoted by advocate global warming blogs like Tamino and Romms to show the unprecedented whatever the authors want in recent times. Proxy temp papers are often comprised of a set of sites which are published in previous papers. In Mann 08, individual tree records were combined with other types of proxies and even complete studies to find the best possible hockey stick.

The reason Mann comes up again is that in Briffa’s previous work they discovered that the MXD type proxies (a measure of density of tree rings) demonstrated a non-correlation with temperature where previously it was held out that these were thermometer trees. Instead of realizing that trees aren’t thermometers as any sane person would do, they chopped the inconvenient record off completely, pasted on something new and called the rest temperature.

Now you need to understand just how disingenuous that is. These studies are only passed through peer review because of correlation to current temperature, there is simply no other way used to confirm that trees are measuring temperature and not CO2, bugs, humidity etc. There aren’t fields of greenhouses being cultivated in controlled environments or biological studies of response linearity to temp…there’s nothing.

So consider that you have a study which has shown correlation to temp in measured years. Some data doesn’t correlate but most does and the result does. In Climatology the assumption is made that if it correlates in recent years, the data will always correlate in history. The data is assumed to be stationary with respect to temperature.

It sounds good on the surface but even the most mild investigations into the data reveal a different story. Thermometer trees are carefully pre-selected for their environmental conditions based on a set of undefined subjective criteria by the scientists in the field. From these pre-selections, if they worked the theory is you would have a set of trees which could be used to calculate temperatures back thousands of years.

Here’s a few serious questions a science minded person would ask though:

  • What would you say about the studies if most of the data collected from thermometer trees didn’t correlate to temps?
  • What if there are areas with trees that correlate to measured temps were double checked and different answers were found?
  • What would you say if there had never been a successful field replication of a tree ring study using different data from the same location? – No other expedition to the same sites could reveal the same results.

I know what an engineer would do, question the data. In climatology the data is often scrapped in favor of data which has been pre-determined to be temperature. You want proof, check out this beautiful quote from the oft used Jacoby tree ring study.

We strive to develop and use the best data possible. The criteria are good common low and high-frequency variation, absence of evidence of disturbance (either observed at the site or in the data), and correspondence or correlation with local or regional temperature.

And my favorite from Mann08

Because of the evidence for loss of temperature sensitivity after 1960(1), MXD data were eliminated for the post-1960 interval. The RegEM algorithm of Schneider (9) was used to estimate missing values for proxy series terminating before the 1995 calibration interval endpoint

They chose to eliminate the data post 1960 because it didn’t match instrument records! Due to loss of temperature sensitivity!!

Were you an open minded NON-ADVOCATE scientist, how would you take these results? Wouldn’t you question whether the data might possibly have a slight problem. Perhaps you’d even question whether these were actually temperature data at all …. eh?

——–

Now how does this all relate to the series presented by Steve McIntyre on the Yamal hockey stick. Steve found that by using additional well known and available tree ring data in the immediate Yamal region, the entire result is reversed.

So let’s do a little thought experiment. Suppose you are an AGW advocate who for some reason believes we need to limit our CO2 and economies at all costs, you know in your heart that this is the right course of action. Additionally. you fully believe we are heading toward certain doom by heating the earth a few degrees C. Suppose again, you are a good mathematician and you understand the problems with statistical analysis and know how to work around them. Now you are also an expert in the types and styles of proxies available in the field and have a small network of like-minded friends to work with. — remember this is hypothetical not accusatory.

Suppose further, that as an expert you are of course aware of the incredibly limited usefulness of trees as thermometers but also aware that trees are known to grow faster in warmer temperatures at times. It cannot be denied. Therefore, wouldn’t it be perfectly reasonable to make papers which reach the correct conclusions using this data in the face of all of these known problems? If the conclusions are justified for the good of humanity, aren’t you doing a good and just thing even though the result is probably not accurate?

———

As I see it, it’s difficult to find any other explanation for what Steve has twice stumbled across now, yet still it isn’t proven. However, it is one of several clues and a very real possibility in my mind. The first major discovery which really clarified the possibility that this is what was happening was Mann98’s use of decentered PCA followed by a ‘CENSORED’ directory with correct PCA. In my opinion, this latest discovery is of near equal magnitude to that one.

The following plot shows Yamal as used in Kaufman et al (red) and the including the Schweingruber trees from basically the same location. Yamal has been used over and over in hocky stick papers from an AGW standpoint it has a beautiful shape which can strongly influence unprecedentedness. The standard deviation in the right end is several times higher than in history (and it’s in the correct warming direction).

rcs_merged[1]

Sensitivity Test (SteveM) Red- Kaufman Yamal, Black-12 recent series removed and Schweingruber Added in, Green- All data

Update, corrected curves by SteveM.  He caught a error in the calculation.  I’ve left both up, the change makes no difference in the conclusion to this robust analysis— just kidding.  Actually, while the change brings the recent data into more positive territory, I note that unlike the green curve in fig 1, this green curve may actually correlate reasonably with temperature. —-Wouldn’t that be interesting.

rcs_merged_rev[1]

Sensitivity Test (SteveM) Red- Kaufman Yamal, Black-12 recent series removed and Schweingruber Added in, Green- All data

The red curve is an obvious choice if you are looking for a certain result. However, it simply cannot be replicated in the field. Consider the Schweingruber samples which have hundreds of trees from the same area. These thermometer trees are averaged with the rest of the data to produce the black curve which leads to the opposite conclusion about temperature in Yamal. In fact looking at the additional data, it’s hard to conclude that there is any temperature signal at all and certainly nothing 6 standard deviations unprecedented. These curves cannot all be temperature.

It is well known that these Schweingruber series exist. It is equally well known that they are some of the most complete and detailed records available in the area.

Now the final and very important point I’d like to make is that Briffa has finally archived the Yamal series used AFTER 10 YEARS AND MULTIPLE PUBLICATIONS. Three are very few series presented, 40ish in fact so we have to wonder where the rest are – why were they eliminated? I have no question that they exist yet it is unproven that they do, the shape of the graph is enough for me to tell that multi-decadal variance has been eliminated in the pre-calibration range ala- VonStorch 04.

We know exactly how to make that hockey stick shape, every climatologist does. It comes quite naturally from preferential selection of an upslope signal in one section of a lot of data series. The original Yamal had more than 2000 cores sampled and showed very little trend in recent times. They do make the difference between typical or unprecedented temperatures in the Kaufman Arctic reconstruction.

I’m interested in the team response to Steve’s find at this point. They may try not to acknowledge it but it won’t work in the long term.

In summary:

  • No study of tree rings has been replicated from re-collection of different non-sorted data in the field.
  • No study has been demonstrated to have non-divergence with temperature when redone.
  • No study has made an effort to verify trees are thermometers beyond correlation.
  • The same old scientists continue to use the same old data to come to the same old conclusions regularly ignoring updated series which reverse conclusions.
  • The pattern above isn’t limited to dendroclimatology.

I learned long ago that when things don’t make sense, something else is going on. Look for the outside influence which isn’t being considered — noconsensus.

In short my belief is that several recent tree-ring reconstructions are advocacy of a policy — NOT SCIENCE. At this point it’s what I believe and am willing to be shown the error of my thinking and being ignored by Kaufman et al isn’t going to do it. However, I’ve already seen the evidence and need little else at this point – they definitely have a massive and well earned uphill battle with me.

I’d love to know if temps are unprecedented and why, history is very interesting and our futures need to be planned by taking that into consideration. In this case it’s absolutely obvious that this data cannot do it. I’m simply left with a disgust that the remaining non-advocates in the climatology community for whatever reason don’t demand replication from different unsorted data or reject this blatant and obvious garbage as fast as it’s being written.

Assume for a moment it’s not about money, power and an insane leftist political viewpoint and that global warming is as bad a problem as is stated. Consider the damage this kind of shoddy, garbage, advocate, crap work will do to the proper reaction of humanity to global warming if honest people catch on and it finally becomes clear to the rest of the world what they are doing.

How much worse is the problem if by that time this work has not already been rejected by the good scientists!!


30 Responses to “Trash Bin”

  1. Adam Gallon said

    Adam Gallon says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    I slipped this little epistle onto RealClimate, highly likely to get censored by them.
    28 September 2009 at 7:30 AM
    Perhaps the denizens of Real Climate may care to communicate this for the benefit of the public.
    http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=7168
    This appears to put a coach & four through one of the major planks of AGW, the use of trees as thermometers.
    Will this be posted or will it be subject to the censor’s pen?
    Now, who’s been doing the ” distort and misinform ” with regard to the Yamal series?

  2. wattsupwiththat said

    The CA server is getting slammed, help with the traffic issue by replacing your graphs with these mirrors:

    http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/count_comparison1.gif
    http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/rcs_chronologies1.gif
    http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/rcs_merged.gif

    I also have a mirror post up on WUWT.

  3. BDAABAT said

    Don’t forget to include the ability to select the specific trees needed to produce the desired result… not only when collecting the data in the field, but also after collecting and analyzing the data!

    Esper et al 2003:
    “However as we mentioned earlier on the subject of biological growth populations, this does not mean that one could not improve a chronology by reducing the number of series used if the purpose of removing samples is to enhance a desired signal. The ability to pick and choose which samples to use is an advantage unique to dendroclimatology.”

    Unique to dendroclimatology indeed. Unique because it’s in no way or shape actually scientific. You simply can’t elect to use only the data that supports your hypothesis.

    Can you imagine a drug company submitting documents to the US FDA where the company omitted certain data because it didn’t support the companies safety or efficacy claims?

    Bruce

  4. Layman Lurker said

    No matter how Briffa, or Mann, or Kaufman try to defend this there will be gaping holes which cannot be explained away. Bottom line: even if there is an explanation for the uptick vs. divergence samples at Yamal, it would take a whole other paper to demonstrate it and provide the foundation needed to justify its use in reconstructions. Could this be why Briffa stonewalled on archiving?

  5. Jeff Id said

    Bruce,

    That’s one of my favorite quotes as well. The boy’s are busted pretty badly this time.

    #4, I only see intent right now, it’s simply to prevalent in the field. I’m the crazy blogger though so perhaps there will be a reasonable explanation which can pull me back from the brink. Nothing has been proven after all, only another big chunk of inconvenient evidence. In the meantime, it don’t look good to my little brain.

  6. Kenneth Fritsch said

    I do not see where a reply from RC or any signs of capitulation from the authors or other members of the AGW consensus are important to the issue. The important point is that there are people doing analyses and sensitivity studies that are helping independent thinkers find the truth. If the consensus gang is wrong, I am, for one, willing to let them go quietly into the night.

  7. BillT said

    Adam Gallon says:…I slipped this little epistle onto RealClimate, highly likely to get censored by them.
    28 September 2009 at 7:30 AM

    If you posted it under Decadal Predictions, it’s already down the Memory Hole. There’s nothing there prior to 0830.

  8. John F. Hultquist said

    “The ability to pick and choose which samples to use is an advantage unique to dendroclimatology.” Esper et al 2003

    In a chemistry class many years ago we had to keep a notebook of everything we did. If we realized we made a mistake we could paperclip those pages together and make a note of the known error. Had we just ripped them out and thrown them away would have been a major transgression not to be tolerated – and it was just a class. One was expected to be honest and we were informed why science is done in such a manner. Or it was then.

  9. De Vivar. said

    Another ‘standard’ myth debunked.
    Arctic Ocean sea ice growing.
    Antarctic ice sheet growing.
    AMO gone into cooling mode.
    But, the Met Office says;-(in the Guardian UK)
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/sep/28/met-office-study-global-warming
    That we’re all going to hell or something like it?
    When will sanity prevail????

  10. Doug in Seattle said

    I wish I could find an innocent reason for what CA has reported. Steve McIntyre’s analysis is devastating in its simplicity and wholly fatal to the last 15 years of work by Briffa, Mann and their many co-authors. They who who have hid behind a wall of pride and activism are now exposed.

    It may however be too late to stop the AGW juggernaut before the economies of the developed world are shackled by the envronmental fascists and their leftist political brothers.

    I greive for science and the human species if they succeed.

  11. Antonio San said

    “If the consensus gang is wrong, I am, for one, willing to let them go quietly into the night.”

    Really? At this level when does incompetence reach fraud and cover up?
    That should be for court of law to determine imo.

  12. Dave said

    Who gives a sh*t what RC has to say? Mann, the CEO of Hockey Sticks-R-Us, is one of the founders of RC, for cryin’ out loud. They are perfectly free to go to CA, WUWT, or here to discuss Briffa in an open, uncensored forum. But they won’t- it’s not their style.

  13. Matt Y. said

    Assume for a moment it’s not about money, power and an insane leftist political viewpoint and that global warming is as bad a problem as is stated. Consider the damage this kind of shoddy, garbage, advocate, crap work will do to the proper reaction of humanity to global warming if honest people catch on and it finally becomes clear to the rest of the world what they are doing.

    The problem is, take away the shoddy science and what have you got left? I suspect the reason they (the alarmists) rally around this kind of crap is there is nothing better. And the scientist/advocates don’t think we can wait until there is. I’ve been looking for 2 years, and I still haven’t seen any compelling evidence of an impending doom.

  14. Steamboat McGoo said

    It will be really interesting to see how many new climate papers reference the offending (Briffa?) chronology now. I’m betting … zero, or close enough.

    …And if references to it drop off to zero, we must ask (tongue in cheek) why – if its so robust and impeccable?

  15. Ayrdale said

    What was that noise ?

    It was the shattering of scientific consensus.

    Wavering warmers in the scientific community will have to make up their minds where they stand. They certainly can’t stay sitting on the consensus fence, that is if they have any conscience…

  16. Carl G said

    I’ve been watching proxy posts on CA and RC (well, stopped that about a year ago) for some time. From the very first week or so, back years ago, it was very very clear that this was a bunch of bullshit from MBH/Briffa/etc. I feel like yelling, in that this has even persisted for this long. IN WHAT OTHER FIELD DO YOU CALIBRATE, FAIL TO VALIADATE, LABEL THE FAILURE, IGNORE THE FAILURE, AND THEN CONTINUE? Even if you don’t know statistics, COMMON SENSE is enough to tell you that this is wrong and a fatal error. Sorry for the vent; I just want to show this to every skeptic I know and dare them to defend it, and defend how this crap has persisted for 10 years and throughout mutliple prestigious journals. All faith in any climatology publications is lost, in my mind, as there is no worthwhile review whatsoever.

    I wonder why nobody has tried to publish an absolutely absurd paper (pro-AGW) with no supporting (or fabricated) data in one of these journals just to show how lax the review process is.

  17. tesla said

    I also tried leaving a comment at RealClimate, asking their response to Steve’s most recent thread. It didn’t even go into the usual “your comment is awaiting moderation” and got deleted instantly (presumably due to the link to Steve’s post). To be expected, I suppose.

  18. Gordon Ford said

    In my former life as an economic geologist and geological engineer doing ore reserve development and estimates it was very important to keep all data available to anyone reviewing my work. Hideing or misrepresenting data could at a minimum land me in a professional disiplinary hearing or at worst in court accused with fraud.
    In the mining world the cost of fraud is only in the 10’s or 100’s of millions (remember Bre-X)
    In the climate industry the cost could be in the trillions.
    Are biffra, Mann and the rest of the team professionals?

  19. wattsupwiththat said

    RE Tesla #17

    Try using http://www.tinyurl.com and submit it with that link the website makes to McIntyre’s post to see what happens.

  20. Matt Y. said

    Piling on the previous comments… the fact that it took this long to pry the data out of the authors is nothing short of outrageous. Of course the perception is they were trying to hide something. The fact that it was tolerated by the climate science community is very disturbing indeed.

  21. trbixler said

    Obama and the democratic congress are still on point to fix AGW. As opposed to making energy cheaper for all they want to drive the cost of energy up. There is no interest in tree rings, just ask Lisa Jackson about the pollutant CO2. They will continue until voted out of office. Hopefully Mann, Gore, Soros, Kerry, Pelosi will not succeed. Forget about coal and nuclear power until there is a change of elected officials.

  22. jorgekafkazar said

    trbixler said: “…They will continue until voted out of office….Forget about coal and nuclear power until there is a change of elected officials.”

    With the media fully behind the Red administration that they themselves have created, what makes you think elections will be permitted? Are you still subscribing to a leftist newspaper? You may be funding the chains they’re preparing for you.

  23. Mark T said

    I suppose the new catchphrase will be “we need to get rid of the 21st century!”

    Mark

  24. Ken Hall said

    “Can you imagine a drug company submitting documents to the US FDA where the company omitted certain data because it didn’t support the companies safety or efficacy claims?

    Bruce”

    Yes, How do think Aspartame got passed as safe? That was a major abuse of science.

  25. Kondealer said

    Just sent this email to Dr. Esper.

    Dear Dr. Esper,

    I am currently teaching a module called “Biomeasurement” (basic statistics) to a group of first year Environmental Science undergraduates and would be honoured if you would agree, in principle (we can sort out detailed arrangements later), to give a guest lecture here explaining the latest developments in Climate Science and some of the exciting methods of data analysis pioneered by you and co-workers.

    In particular they are are keen (as am I)to hear about the techniques you helped develop in paleoclimatology, where the ability to pick and choose which samples to use is an advantage unique to dendroclimatology.

    All the best,
    Dr. Don Keiller,
    Deputy Head,
    Life Sciences

  26. FrancisT said

    Re: Ken Hall @24

    One of the points I made in my layman’s guide to the significance of this finding is that in other areas of science these sorts of obfuscation are frowned upon and frequently result in financial loss etc. for the people who did the obfusc. Not always of course but there is at least a tradition of not secretively hiding data and a tradition that those who are caught doing so get into trouble. This seems not to be the case in climatology

  27. Maurice J said

    Ode to Albert & Co

    When all the AGWers die
    We will raise a monument into the sky
    A monument of SOLID CARBON
    To commemorate their BOGUS BARGAIN

    Gore…A bloody mess associated with a HORROR MOVIE.

  28. Dan Hughes said

    I’m not sure that I have a firm grip on the major issues here, so may I ask a question or two.

    It seems that the results of the reconstruction is a function of the calibration period.

    What would happen to the reconstruction if the calibration period was taken to be the most recent decade or the cooling period of the late 1960s early 1970s? Isn’t it possible that proxies now retained would be rejected and others now rejected would be retained?

    How is the connection made between the local conditions at which the trees grow and the conditions associated with the baseline that determines which proxies are retained or rejected. I think it is very likely that trees respond to local conditions.

    Thanks

  29. Jeff Id said

    #28, Dan,

    What would happen to the reconstruction if the calibration period was taken to be the most recent decade or the cooling period of the late 1960s early 1970s?

    Yes different proxies would be selected – it’s guaranteed.

    How is the connection made between the local conditions at which the trees grow and the conditions associated with the baseline that determines which proxies are retained or rejected.
    Local effects are expected to average out in the samples. Of course we’ve sorted any noise which doesn’t match our pre-determined conclusion in the calibration range so negative impact noise in that area has been removed.

    You’re a software guy. This post contains turnkey code for R. You can run one line at a time and see it working.

    http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2009/06/20/hockey-stick-cps-revisited-part-1/

  30. Thank you. Hand your health…

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