the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

Circling Yamal 3 – facing the thermometers

Posted by Jeff Id on October 29, 2009

This is a guest post by Lucy Skywalker which looks further at the local temperature records from the Yamal region.  Link to the original post is here.


Let’s look closely and compare local thermometer records (GISS) with the Twelve Trees, upon whose treerings depend all the IPCC claims of “unprecedented recent temperature rise”.
For my earlier Yamal work, see here and here. For the original Hockey Stick story, see here and here.

Half the Hockey Stick graphs depend on bristlecone pine temperature proxies, whose worthlessness has already been exposed. They were kept because the other HS graphs, which depend on Briffa’s Yamal larch treering series, could not be disproved. We now find that Briffa calibrated centuries of temperature records on the strength of 12 trees and one rogue outlier in particular. Such a small sample is scandalous; the non-release of this information for 9 years is scandalous; the use of this undisclosed data as crucial evidence for several more official HS graphs is scandalous. And not properly comparing treering evidence with local thermometers is the mother of all scandals.

I checked out the NASA GISS page for all thermometer records in the vicinity of Yamal and the Polar Urals, in “raw”, “combined”, and “homogenized” varieties. Here are their locations (white). The Siberian larch treering samples in question come from Yamal and Taimyr. Salehard and Dudinka have populations of around 20,000; Pecora around 50,000; Surgut around 100,000; all the rest are officially “rural” sites. Some are long records, some are short.

Russia has two problems. First, many records stopped or became interrupted around 1990 after the ending of Soviet Russia; worst affected are the very telling Arctic Ocean records. Second, during Soviet Russia (and possibly now for all I know), winter urban records were “adjusted” downwards so that the towns could claim more heating allowances. Nevertheless, it will become clear that these issues in no way impede the evidence regarding treerings.

Click to enlarge these graphs. The first shows the 20 GISS stations closest to Yamal and the Polar Urals. The second shows treering width changes over time (only 10 of the 12 trees here). This was supposedly compared with local thermometer records, and used to calibrate earlier treering widths as temperature measurements to create a 1000-year temperature record. It was a pig to turn these graphs into a stack of transparent lines at the same scale as the GISS records for comparison, but finally, interesting material started to emerge.

I scaled all the GISS thermometer records to the same temperature scale, and ran them all from 1880 to 2020 at the same time scale (GISS graphs do not do this). I overlaid them as transparent lines along their approximate mean temperatures for comparison. Mean temperatures (visually judged) vary from around -2ºC (Pecora) to -13ºC (Selagoncy, Olenek, Hatanga, and Ostrov Uedine) and even -15ºC (“Gmo Im E.K. F”). The calibrations are degrees Centigrade anomaly, and decades.

Ha! Straightway we see clear patterns emerging. Let’s agree them:

Thermometer records: (1) time-wise, thermometers show temperatures rising from 1880 to 1940 or so; (2) temperatures fall a little from 1940 to 1970; (3) temperatures then rise a little but do not quite regain the heights of the 1940’s; (4) despite mean temperatures ranging from -2ºC to -15ºC (total means range 13ºC), and a range of temperature anomalies from each mean of only 9ºC from warmest year to coldest year, when mean temperatures are aligned, clear correlations emerge; (5) there are high variations between adjacent years. We shall investigate all this more closely in a minute.

Treering records: I’ve shown here the full records given for the 10 trees that runs from 1800 to 2000; but below, I use the same timescale as the thermometer records (1880-2020) for comparison. It is useful to see a few things here already: (6) treering sizes are increasing from 1830; (7) before that they show a decrease; (8) they do show correlation from 1880 on (this is NOT proof that the correlation is due to temperature).

Yamal area: (9) The 7 stations around Salehard seem to go in lock step with each other pretty well. (10) The five Yamal treering records (YAD) also correlate with each other, showing spikes around 1910, 1925, 1940, 1955, 1965, and 1980-1990. (11) But the treerings fall out with each other 1990-2000; and (12) these treering spikes do NOT correspond to the thermometer temperature spikes; but (13) there is a slight correlation with the longterm temperature; however, (14) crucially, there is no hockeystick blade in the thermometer record (15) nor is there one in the treering record if we remove the red YAD061 which is clearly an outlier – only a plateau’d elevation of the peaks throughout the 20th century starting before the real CO2/temp rise (and this is actually matched by pre-1800 values at times).

Excuse me for wondering if treerings beat to a different drum than temperature – it is certainly curious that there appears to be something causing correlations in the treerings. Wind? Sunspots? The moon? But let’s check by zooming in a little closer…

Salehard close-up: (16) all the nearby thermometer records mirror Salehard closely, although stations are up to 500 miles apart, the range of mean temperatures is -2ºC to -9ºC, and the range of annual temperatures at each station is up to about 9ºC – altogether a remarkable consistency. Click to see animated version of these records. (17) The close fit of Mys Kamennij (pale sea-blue) is particularly significant, since it is maritime and rural, and the same distance as Salehard from the treering site (some 120 miles), but in the opposite direction; (18) Ostrov Waigatz (Vaigach Island) shows the same pattern but with greater extremes; (19) in comparison with all this, the treering records show virtually no correlation at all – yet since treering differences between summer and winter exist at all, one would expect to see some correlation with warmer and colder years. (20) Perhaps if a far larger sample were used, a correlation might be detected, but clearly (21) we have trees here that are far too individual – especially YAD061.

Polar Urals: Here are seven station records around the Polar Urals site, compared with the five Taimyr (POR) treering records. (22) Mean temperatures are lower here – further North but also more continental, so perhaps the summers are as warm as Yamal, with similar near-treeline environment. (23) more noise in the temperature record, but the overall pattern is still the same; (24) 1943, 1967, 1983 are warm in common with the Salehard records, and 1940 is cold; other years are harder to compare. (25) The early fragmentary records for Dudinka and Turuhansk still fit together and overlay the Salehard records well, showing clear temperature rise between 1880 and 1940. (26) The treering records are fairly coherent, more so than the Yamal ones, and (27) they fit the Yamal records’ spikes in 1910, 1925, 1940, 1955, 1965, and 1980 on, but (28) again, this does not fit the temperature record.

The best of both record series: Really rural thermometer records from the maritime Arctic: (29) show the strongest pattern yet which (30) fits the other two sets of thermometer records but (31) does not fit the treering records even though (32) the treerings show coherent patterns within themselves, despite the two sites being some 800 miles apart.

Briffa’s full chronology: The Yamal chronology Briffa used (black) is compared with Polar Urals (green) and shows recent temperatures exceeding the Medieval Warm Period but (33) this is highly questionable, as is the recent final uptick. No MWP supports the alarmist “Unprecedented!” yet Polar Urals generally have been shown to fit local thermometer records better than Yamal for the period of overlap.

More GISS Arctic graphs: There are many serious problems with GISS but we can only take the evidence here. (34) GISS 64ºN+ shows a misleading trend line – temperatures rise to 1940, fall to 1970, rise to 2000 but not higher than 1940, then level off after 2000; (35) I don’t know what stations went into this composite – the final uptick alerts my suspicions to some UHI or other station problems; (36) Tamino takes the biscuit for cherrypicked trends in the GISS 80ºN+ North Polar winter record (sea green) – it clearly opposes the general worldwide fall in temperatures 1940-1970. However, it’s interesting to see such extremes.

GISS’ homogeneity adjustments: Thankfully, only a few of these Russian records are “adjusted”. But the alterations are telling. Surgut spikes upwards over Salehard from about 1960 on – but (36) the adjustment (probably UHI) is perversely done by truncating and moving earlier records upwards, instead of adjusting later records downwards. And (37) why were Salehard’s and Ostrov Uedine’s earlier “raw” records omitted in the adjusted records? I think every correction here will tend to amplify global warming trends.

GISS world temperatures, 2008: This map was shown in Tingley & Huybers’ latest Hockey Stick presentation at PAGES conference. GISS’ own station records around Yamal and Polar Urals appear to show (38) this map is misleading, since according to GISS’ own records, above, averages local to Yamal / Polar Urals after 2000 are at the most 1.5ºC anomaly (above local mean).

CRU Arctic temperatures, seasonal anomalies: (graph by romanm) Since this is from uncheckable individual station records, (39) the figures could be contaminated by various “correction” factors, (41) UHI is especially likely in the winter. But note that (42) the difference in character between months, and between summers and winters, is striking – summers have hardly changed – and (43) still no definitive Hockey Stick as per illustrations and per Briffa’s Yamal treering record, nothing beyond the range of natural patterns clearly evidenced here. Even the known slight overall increase during the twentieth century takes place mainly earlier in the century.

Conclusions: There is no sign whasoever of a Hockey Stick shape with serious uptick in the twentieth century, in the thermometer records. Yet these records are clearly very consistent with each other, no matter how long the record or how cold, high, or maritime the locality, with a distance span of over a thousand miles. Neither does the Hockey Stick consistently show in the treerings except in the case of a single tree. Even with thermometer records that are incomplete and suffering other problems, the “robust” conclusion is –
“Warmist” treering proxy temperature evidence is falsified directly by local thermometer records.

22 Responses to “Circling Yamal 3 – facing the thermometers”

  1. cogito said

    Impressive work!

  2. thanks!
    Seeing as the irritating TomP gave a ref to Briffa 2007, I decided to include stuff from that too (it’s not shown here). It shows up what I think is more sloppy Team work, probably due to confirmation bias – but was well worth inclusion IMO.

  3. Retired Engineer said

    #1. Agreed. Even to a grumpy non-scientist, ancient engineer, this is great work. A lot of effort, to show that things are not heading over a cliff. Sorry, Lucy, without a good impending disaster, very few will notice.

    Since these trees are not all that big around, and they go back a long time, the rings have to be very small. Which makes any measurement subject to error, totally apart from other things, like water, which greatly affect growth.

    Ms. Skywalker, methinks you have blown the smoke out of their gun.

  4. I’ve added a couple more pics using material from Briffa 2007 (h/t TomP!). And Anthony W’s taken it up, thanks Jeff for enabling that. BTW Jeff, I think if you correct your global U-tube of changing temp anomalies, Anthony would run that too, it certainly deserves it IMO.

  5. Kondealer said

    Good stuff Lucy. Plain facts, clearly explained. A very telling contrast to the contortions of “The Team”.

  6. edaniel said

    Another excellent piece of work, Lucy.

  7. PaulM said

    Lucy that’s a really good post, lots of data, and most importantly a Conclusions section – many other bloggers could learn from this, even the Great SM himself!

  8. KuhnKat said


    Are you using the temps from the “growing season?” It would seem reasonable, in an area where temps are below freezing most of the year, that this should be done. I’ve seen elsewhere discussions of the growing season being from about june to july. Maybe use May thru August to pick up any variations?

    Still, it becomes obvious with what you have presented that there is no “Hockey Stick” to validate against. So, exactly what DID they validate their modern trees against and how did they end up with the trees selected that show a hockey stick when the majority of the samples DON’T and the temperatures DON’T???

    Is there MAGIC in their hidden methods??

  9. #8 Kuhnkat
    If you look up Briffa et al 2007 you can see what they used there. They were very much aware of the notion of growing seasons. But hey, the maps of trends of different ways of measuring the growing season are all at odds with each other, no clear pattern. Too much weather at a guess, too litte trend. Their overall trend seems to come from the summer records which seem to show the required final uptick. As I only found these yesterday I could only begin to comment what I suspected… go read my page, I added this at the bottom after Jeff posted it here.

    I cannot do graphs from data (yet!?) But the GISS data is available and I’d be interested to see Salehard winter vs Salehard summer.

  10. kuhnkat said


    thanks for the link.

    It reminds me that SteveMcI. covered some of this. The temps appear to be based on grid cells scattered across a band of Siberia and parts of Finland and Sweden that are south compared to the tree sites. As soon as they talk gridcells I get flashbacks of the posts on GISSTEMP adjustments!!

    “Figure 1
    High-latitude Eurasian instrumental seasonal temperature series for: (a) summer, the mean of June to August and (b) winter, the mean of December to February. The thick black line indicates the average of monthly land air temperature data for the thirty-five 5°×5° grid boxes (Brohan et al. 2006) listed in appendix A. The data are anomalies from the 1961 to 1990 period mean. Individual grid box data representing Fennoscandia (62.5° N, 22.5° E), Yamal (62.5° N, 67.5° E) and Avam–Taimyr (62.5° N, 102.5° E) are also shown. Temperature trends for (c) summer and (d) winter for the period 1950–1994 (calculated from standardized instrumental anomaly data) for individual 5°×5° average grid box series listed in appendix A. The sign and magnitude of the trends are indicated by colour coding. The only significant trends (p>0.05) are positive (i.e. greater than 0.015 as per the scale of figure 2). The green circles show the approximate source regions of tree-ring chronology data (table 1) described in this paper: F, Fennoscandia; Y, Yamal; AT, Avam–Taimyr.”

    I always wonder how averaging temps from thousands of miles away help figure out what is happening in my area!!

    “The sign and magnitude of the trends are indicated by colour coding.”

    Hey, I thought they said sign doesn’t matter in multivariate analysis!!! smirk

  11. P Gosselin said


    Hard to believe, but it looks like the Arctic has been cooling since 2005 (since about 5 years). One has to wonder because the Arctic is touted as the indicator of global climate change. Precisely here are temperatures supposed to be rising rapidly due to manmade climate change. But now the opposite seems to be occurring.
    The temperature of the north polar region as measured by satellites (above: UAH & RSS) show a drop since 2005.

    This is confirmed by global surface temperature measurements (below, NASA-GISS).

    The north polar region has been cooling since 2005, as the comparison of 2005 to the subsequent 2006-2008 show. A cooling is also measured globally for this period.

    This shows the short term development of the last 5 years.
    How will the trend develop in the future?

    Is the Arctic really cooling now? Jeff – Can you confirm?

  12. Hal said

    How can the arctic be cooling when all the multiyear ice has disappeared

    “The multiyear ice covering the Arctic Ocean has effectively vanished, a startling development that will make it easier to open up polar shipping routes, an Arctic expert said on Thursday.”

    I especially like the fact that this was observed first hand by this “expert”:

    “After a long search, Barber’s ice breaker finally found a 16-km (10-mile) wide floe of multiyear ice that was around 6 to 8 meters (20-26 feet) thick. But as the crew watched, the floe was hit by a series of waves, and disintegrated in five minutes. ”

    Wow, ten mile wide icefloe disappears in 5 minutes!!!! there must be hardly any ice left up there now.

    What a crock


    This contains all the standard warmista religious mantra like:

    The Arctic is warming up three times more quickly than the rest of the Earth, in part because of the reflectivity, or the albedo feedback effect, of ice.

    Scientists have fretted for decades about the pace at which the Arctic ice sheets are shrinking. U.S. data shows the 2009 ice cover was the third-lowest on record, after 2007 and 2008.

    An increasing number of experts feel the North Pole will be ice free in summer by 2030 at the latest, for the first time in a million years.

    THIS IS A NEW ONE,though:

    Scientists are also seeing more cyclones, which pick up force as they absorb heat from the warmer water. The cyclones help generate waves that break up ice sheets and also dump large amounts of snow, which has an insulating effect and prevents the ice sheets from thickening.

    I wonder if the above came from a peer-reviewed paper.LOL. What garbage.

    Ahhhhh…I vented…..thanks Jeff.


  13. DeWitt Payne said


    Multi-year ice is lost when it drifts out into the Atlantic and melts. The sea ice in the Arctic Ocean is quite mobile. 2007 was marked not only by low ice area at the minimum but also a large loss of multi-year ice into the Atlantic through the Fram Strait between Greenland and Spitzbergen. You can see somewhat the same thing happening this year. That band of ice on the east coast of Greenland consists mostly of ice that has drifted out through the Fram Strait. Unfortunately, a lot of it is multi-year ice. Oh, and an ice floe is not an iceberg (see here) and they can be quite fragile in the open sea.

  14. Kon Dealer said

    It doesn’t really matter whether Mann, Briffa, Kaufman and the rest of the Team are right or wrong (which they are) because this paper by Professor Richard Lindzen, should prove once and for all that AGW is bunk.

    In summary all the GCMs predict that as global temperature increases, radiation escaping from the upper atmosphere will decrease because it is being trapped by CO2 and water vapour (which increases with increasing temperature) i.e. positive feedback.

    So what do real World measurements (accumulated over 20 years) say?
    The exact opposite. As temperature rises the amount of radiation escaping into space increases i.e. negative feedback.

    What this means is that doubling of CO2 is not going to produce several degrees of temperature increase, but ONE (1).

    Click to access 2009GL039628-pip.pdf

    Rejoice! The World is safe!

  15. Kenneth Fritsch said

    Lucy Skywalker, I have not studied your thread introduction well at this point in time, but I do like these kinds of analyses. My point in commenting at this time is to reiterate what I am sure most here are well aware of: climate scientists like Briffa can be quite careful about what they claim as a scientist. It is the scientist as advocate and the media reporter and spinner of results with whom we are often in major disagreement.

    A climate scientist will make a vague claim for a proxy relating to climate factors without clearly claiming that they are specificaly referencing temperature – even when using temperature to calibrate their proxies. The advocates and media spinners fill in the blanks. I get the distinct feeling that a number of these scientists do not have that much faith in their own published proxies, but they get funded to throw the information out there.

    That is where the analyses and sensitivity testing that we see here tAV and CA is needed to truly determine how much confidence the thinking person can place on climate science publications and results. I do not think that much is gained by attempting to show and argue these points with advocacies organizations like RC – in fact it is wasting valuable time away from doing more analyses.

  16. #10 Kuhnkat, hey, your words have highlighted another weird anomaly. You quote Briffa “The only significant trends (p>0.05) are positive (i.e. greater than 0.015 as per the scale of figure 2).” but on that same figure 2, the “significantly” positive trends are off-stage to the south, and the only “significant” figures to overlap Yamal and Polar Urals are NEGATIVE. What’s up? Am I suffering a confirmation bias that tells me that THEY are blind to their own evidence when the blindness is mine??

  17. #11 Pierre. My rule-of-thumb non-peer-reviewed-science to check your query is to look at the AMSRE pattern of sea ice for starters. Sure, there is less summer ice loss (ie MORE residual summer ice) this year than 2008, and 2008 likewise “cooler” than 2007. Arctic weather if you ask me. I think there’s a likelihood that 2007 was a delayed reaction to 1998 at lower latitudes.

  18. DrDweeb said

    #15. Actually IIRC Briffa et. al. have received a grant to check their own tree ring work, and bring order to the chaos. There is a link somewhere over at CA.

    My personal take is the the “tree-o-mometer” ™ is so hugely innaccurate at this stage that it should not form the basis for any wide ranging conclusions. There is a lot of discussion at CA and RC, but one gets the feeling that there are way to many uncertainties and “missing” knowledge being applied to reach pre-determined solutions.

    This is not to denigrate the work, it may be that there is truth in the rings – but I personally cannot see it at this stage.


  19. #15 Kenneth, thanks. I agree with you basically. However, when huge policies are dependent on fragile science, we face the issue of “I was just following orders”. I’ve seen myself do this at times, and it’s with willingness to put myself in Briffa’s shoes (kidney problems and all) that I use strong language.

    Funny thing is, I’ve grown to love the real science, and I think there’s a distinct possibility that these treerings are proxies for SOMETHING – which I would not have thought before – but the presence of correlations even with this tiny rogue non-temperature sample suggests they are dancing to some kind of tune. (See my second Yamal page, Meet the Delinquents, posted earlier here).

  20. Kenneth Fritsch said

    #19 Lucy, that Yamal and Polar Urals follow the same pattern (coherence – is that the proper term?) is evidence that tree rings react similarly to the same something. It is not that coherence pattern, but rather the differing amplitudes between Yamal and Polar Urals relative to the MedWP and ModWP that contrasts those chronologies as it often does between other “contradictory” TR proxies.

    Rob Wilson seems to make a large issue of coherence of tree ring chronologies, but that does not get us any closer to what the tree rings are reacting in harmony. I think what (incorrectly in my view) influences Rob Wilson is that he is able to obtain TR chronologies whose amplitudes are in reasonably good harmony with the instrumental record. Unfortunately we do not know how many samples are excluded that do not follow the instrumental amplitudes and it appears to me that Rob Wilson and other dendros have insufficient appreciation of what that exclusion does to the statistics of the matter.

    As I have gotten into the actual construction and analysis of the RCS Yamal chronology, I have even deeper concerns about how that signal is captured and what it is. I planned to make a short post on that matter soon at CA in the Fits All thread. At the moment I am thinking that the big upward amplitudes in the series are the result of extreme events and tree ring growth. What bothers me is that the uncertainty of the dendros work does not come through in peer reviewed publications and rather takes outside analyses to gain an appreciation for it.

    In my view, those huge policies and enactment of mitigations for AGW, like any other major and expensive government policy will be based more on how well the advocates and politicians can make the case for an “emergency” than on any solid science. My interest here is more out of personal curiosity and enjoyment with the analysis than changing government policies. I am interested in how government expands based on emergencies, but to me that is a whole other fundamental issue.

  21. mrpkw said

    Wow !!
    Great work.
    Amazing what a difference it makes when the tree rings are compared to the real temps.

  22. […] not try to bend tree ring data into a hockey stick, that’s impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth…that […]

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