the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

Circling Yamal 2 – meet the delinquents

Posted by Jeff Id on October 16, 2009

A guest post from Lucy Skywalker.  Lucy has taken the time to locate and collect information on a variety of sites related to the Yamal debacle including a useful interactive Google map.


Dive into the Google map of the proxy sites. View trees in different situations in Yamal and Siberia. Meet the Dirty Dozen close-up. Check them against the thermometers at Salehard and Turuhansk.

Marking the spots was the work of Francis Turner. It is well worth looking at this map live and zooming in

What happened to the Yamal trees – assuming the record was not just a fluke or mistake? The Siberian larches are sensitive not only to temperature but also to moisture, nutrients, CO2 and probably other factors, and microclimate issues, perhaps shading from frost, wind, sunlight, neighbouring trees dying, riverbanks shifting. <<Click on picture to see Yamal trees in their environment, and note highly local variations.

There is evidence of temperature sensitivity that might be measurable (see below) – IF – we are sure we have accounted for all the many other possible factors, taking a large enough sample to eliminate chance, and assuring a “robust” correlation with local thermometer records. The sample of 12 trees used for recent correlation and calibration with temperature is ridiculously small; this outrage of size of sample is compounded by the refusal to declare the actual sample size and other relevant metadata for 9 years.

Now meet the Twelve Trees with super-outlier YAD061 that tell us we are in a tailspin of global warming. It’s worth taking time to get to know them individually.

I’ve used the graphs from Jeff Id’s work, with treering widths from each tree (black: original data) and red: adjusted in the attempt to eliminate bias due to age of tree). Steve McIntyre said “I think that some information can be gleaned from the nomenclature of the ID numbers… There are 12 IDs consisting of a 3-letter prefix, a 2-digit tree # and 1-digit core#. All 12 end in 1988 or later and presumably come from the living tree samples. The nomenclature of these core IDs url (POR01…POR11; YAD04…YAD12; JAH14…JAH16 – excluding the last digit of the ID here as it is a core #) suggests to me that there were at least 11 POR cores, 12 YAD cores and 16 JAH cores… YAD presumably stands for Yadayakhodyyakha River; POR for Porzayakha River; JAH for one of the unlabelled tributaries” (see CRU archive Figure 3).

Straight away we see a bunch of extremely individual records, plus a complete outlier YAD06. It is warming furiously as the last century draws to a close. It seems to be going nova. But its red-hot condition is not mirrored by YAD04 or YAD12, which both show recent cooling . In fact, none of the others show a steady overall twentieth-century temperature rise, though they all show some increase over the nineteenth century.

By far the strongest correlations among these trees are for individual year spikes, somewhere around 1921, 1939, and 1965. Interesting, because Salehard does record temperature spikes for the years 1924, 1943 and 1967; 1943 and 1967 are mirrored at Turuhansk – maybe temperatures are being picked up. And this is further confirmed by the five POR trees which all show the same warm spikes somewhere around 1921, 1939 and 1965.

But these correlations still fail to support a longterm temperature rise. Sure, the trees in POR all show a warmer twentieth century. But if they correlate with thermometer records, how to explain that the local thermometer record does not correspond over a decadal time-scale, or give an overall rise of 7ºC as Briffa’s calibration shows? At the very least, the treerings have been over-sensitively calibrated, as well as given undue weighting for such a tiny sample.

The POR trees all show the early- to mid-nineteenth century as cooler than the twentieth, but also cooler than the end of the eighteenth. Only two of the five, POR03 and POR08, show a warming trend right through the twentieth century that looks like the global temperature pattern, and POR03 shows an altogether warmer eighteenth century. POR01 levels off quite soon in the twentieth century; POR05 and POR11 actually decline towards the end.

POR all go right up from the 1921-1924 spike on; but this is NOT reflected in the thermometer records of either Turuhansk or Salehard, which reflect each other strongly both annually and decadally.

The implication is that while treerings may well show temperature fluctuations from year to year, these local spikes cannot be safely calibrated to show longer, slower climate changes. There are too many individual factors.

Thermometer records at Salehard, compared with Turuhansk, Yamal treerings, and GISS arctic

Click on pictures to enlarge.

Salehard and Turuhansk thermometer records are very alike, both short-term and longterm.

However they show no correlation with overall Yamal proxies except for an upward trend.

The scale of the upward trend of the proxies is well in excess of both Salehard and Turuhansk individual records, and the GISS collective record – even with GISS problems of inappropriate adjustments for UHI and other station issues, station loss, and Russian issues.

Conclusion: These Arctic trees, stressed by being “on the edge”, respond in a highly individual way, and to many factors. The same hypersensitivity that shows up year-to-year temperature differences, that enables dendrochronology to work for dating events, makes the tree rings into markers of local fluctuations but not good markers of even decadal trends, let alone longterm climate trends. However, the evidence of changing treelines might work. And in Yamal, the treeline was further north in the Middle Ages.

Jim Bouldin said at Climate Audit:

The ring width data from all the series, past and present, are lined up by cambial age chronology (cambial age = the relative age of each ring, from the pith or tree center). The average of the ring widths for each ring, over all the trees is then computed. This creates a “standard curve” that reflects primarily the size-dependent part of the growth response of the trees. This mean value series is then subtracted, ring by ring, from the actual ring widths of each tree, thus removing the diameter-related ring width component from each tree, since the goal is to isolate the environmental signal. The residuals from this detrending are then examined to see how “complacent” they are, meaning how much they vary from year to year. Those that vary the most strongly are the most sensitive to the environment, and whether they were responding to the same environmental factor is assessed by looking at the spatial similarity of the variation pattern across trees, across the area of interest.

But this last statement does not seem to be borne out by the above highly individual, very different trees.

13 Responses to “Circling Yamal 2 – meet the delinquents”

  1. BraudRP said

    Parts of this post are difficult to follow because they are truncated by formatting on the right side.

  2. MikeN said

    Braud, shrink your font size.

  3. Jeff Id said

    #1 Sorry about that, I copied it from Lucy’s site with her permission. Her HTML doesn’t translate well into wordpress.

    Here’s a link to her original format.

  4. Retired Engineer said

    Running ancient IE6, normal font, 1280×1024, no problems. At least reading the text. Big problems with the way some unmentionables abused the data. Never realized Hockey sticks were made of Yamal wood …

  5. 40 Shades of Green said

    I used the google map to search nearby for a Starbucks. Unfortunately, no hit.


    Maybe I will try Starbuck-ski


  6. Jeff Id said

    hahaha. 😀

  7. Thanks Jeff for posting the whole piece. Yes I too have problems with viewing the page here, it’s all truncated on the RHS. I’ll try and do a re-format of my page that’s WordPress friendly, that you can upload whole. Would that do the trick? But it may have to wait until tomorrow.

  8. … no, I see now that one shrink in viewing size and it’s all fitting on and is still legible, so if that’s ok with you I’ll leave it. But do warn viewers, leave a note at the top of the article to press + to shrink the view.

  9. Kenneth Fritsch said

    The Jim Bouldin comment is typical of those climate scientists who, for whatever reasons, decide to do a drive by at CA. He was in a particularly snotty mood and that comment above is simply a reiteration of some dendro ideal and does not address specific issues about a specific paper. I think that some of these people are very aware of hurting the feelings of their fellow scientists. His comments remind me of those publishing organizations that publish bylaws that sound high and mighty until someone decides to test them.

    I think there could be much wrong with Briffa’s yamal proxy and I hope that RomanM will be able to finish his analysis and report the the results.

    And by the way, I have found more insights into climate science by doing and watching others do analysis of papers (with lots of sensitivity testing) than I have ever realized from a visit by an antagonistic climate scientist. I personally think that the likes of a Tom P and Nick Stokes and Lorax waste too much band width in these analysis and discussions – and without contributing much to the knowledge base.

  10. BraudRP said


    Thanks. I should have thought of that.

  11. Harold Vance said

    The problem with Bouldin’s comment is that noboedy has any idea if those twelve trees are responding to exactly the same stimuli over the entire time frame. Even if they were, what happens if someone else can find another set of twelve trees that did the opposite during the most important periods in question? Oh, but wait, they don’t count because they’re not treemometers. Yea, right.

    Nice work, Francis and Lucy.

  12. Jeff Id said


    Strict-sense stationary

    1. (statistics) Of a random process X(t), having characteristics that do not change as t vary, varies.

  13. kuhnkat said


    try enlarging your browser window. Works on IE8 and Safari 4.

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