the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

Adjust the ‘Blip’?

Posted by Jeff Id on November 26, 2009

This email has been posted at least partially in several places.  I think it deserves some discussion and explanation.  The scientists appear to be discussing reducing sea surface temperatures in 1940 to make the global warming story consistent.  Of course it increases warming by some amount as well.  I’m not totally familiar with this section of data, perhaps others are but when we ‘adjust’ globally utilized data to fit conclusions, we’re doing a bit of a disservice to science.  I wonder why they  felt the need to change the data here.

From: Tom Wigley
To: Phil Jones
Subject: 1940s
Date: Sun, 27 Sep 2009 23:25:38 -0600
Cc: Ben Sante


Here are some speculations on correcting SSTs to partly
explain the 1940s warming blip.

If you look at the attached plot you will see that the
land also shows the 1940s blip (as I’m sure you know).

So, if we could reduce the ocean blip by, say, 0.15 degC,
then this would be significant for the global mean — but
we’d still have to explain the land blip.

I’ve chosen 0.15 here deliberately. This still leaves an
ocean blip, and i think one needs to have some form of
ocean blip to explain the land blip (via either some common
forcing, or ocean forcing land, or vice versa, or all of
these). When you look at other blips, the land blips are
1.5 to 2 times (roughly) the ocean blips — higher sensitivity
plus thermal inertia effects. My 0.15 adjustment leaves things
consistent with this, so you can see where I am coming from.

Removing ENSO does not affect this.

It would be good to remove at least part of the 1940s blip,
but we are still left with “why the blip”.

Let me go further. If you look at NH vs SH and the aerosol
effect (qualitatively or with MAGICC) then with a reduced
ocean blip we get continuous warming in the SH, and a cooling
in the NH — just as one would expect with mainly NH aerosols.

The other interesting thing is (as Foukal et al. note — from
MAGICC) that the 1910-40 warming cannot be solar. The Sun can
get at most 10% of this with Wang et al solar, less with Foukal
solar. So this may well be NADW, as Sarah and I noted in 1987
(and also Schlesinger later). A reduced SST blip in the 1940s
makes the 1910-40 warming larger than the SH (which it
currently is not) — but not really enough.

So … why was the SH so cold around 1910? Another SST problem?
(SH/NH data also attached.)

This stuff is in a report I am writing for EPRI, so I’d
appreciate any comments you (and Ben) might have.



Attachment Converted: “c:\eudora\attach\TTHEMIS.xls”

Attachment Converted: “c:\eudora\attach\TTLVSO.XLS”


20 Responses to “Adjust the ‘Blip’?”

  1. Pouncer said

    This raises a point I feel has gotten insufficient attention.

    The “hocky stick” is the record of past climate behavior against which models/projections of future climate are tested. If the “hockey stick” is wrong, a GOOD model might be rejected because it DID MATCH ACTUAL GLOBAL TEMPERATURES INSTEAD OF the hockey stick. A bad model that matched the bad climate chronology would then be used to forecast (badly) the future climate.

    And in fact the claims about powerful computer models being necessary to climate science may be true — about the MODELS. But the historical record is NOT that complex. Maybe 5000 weather stations (likely many fewer) times 400 temperature measurements per year time 200 years. I suggest “averaging” and plotting this data is meaningless, but even so, doing so is not complex and doesen’t require a Cray Supercomputer.

    But if the plot is false then models which match that plot are aiming, however cleverly, at a bad target.

    Even though who believe in and are alarmed by the supposed “warming” should be interested to see the historical plotting software run correctly and present predictable results from controlled inputs such as white noise, red noise, periodic data, and the real temperate record.

    Are they?

  2. Pouncer said

    “even though who” should be “even those who”

  3. Layman Lurker said

    There is all this talk about Wigley being reasonable about land ocean warming discrepencies, possible UHI, and keeping modelers in line wrt recent lack of warming. Then we read this. Is it possible we are missing some context about exactly what is being adjusted or the purpose of the adjustment?

  4. Jeff Id said

    #3 I think you’re right that context in this case may be the key. I was hoping someone like DeWitt or you would give some insight. In the meantime it doesn’t read very good and in the emails of this timeframe there was care taken in communications.

    The email you asked Lucia to do a post on has a lot more discernible context and she’s familiar with the issues. Hopefully she takes you up on it.

  5. Jeff Id said

    #1, I’ve been contacted by a few reporters on this behind the scenes. In each case I’ve explained how peer review relates to Mann 08 – which all of the regular readers and posters know I think is blatantly obvious crap. It’s crap to the point that I don’t know how it gets through any review.

    I may have to do another post on those authors if they don’t pay attention to what is IMO one of the most glaring issues of these emails. Manipulation of the review process.

  6. Charlie said

    I think Bob Tisdale is the guy that understands this.

    There is a kernel of a real problem there, something having to do with a post WWII change in the ratio of British ships vs rest-of-world as far as temperature measurements. IIRC, British ships tended to take sea temp measurements using canvas buckets, which would cool the water via evaporation.

    The problem with the e-mails is that it appears that they are picking an adjustment based on what they’d like to see, rather than what studying records tells them is the correct adjustment. And they are also picking an adjustment based on wanting one that won’t be too obvious (of course, the positive way of spinning it is to say they want an adjustment that is consistent with the land warming).

  7. Basil Copeland said

    I’ve been thinking about this “1940’s blip” as well. I think what they are referring to is the rapid warming of the late 1930’s, followed by the cooling of the 1940’s. If you look at the “standard” chart of global temps, say the one here:

    you see the “1940’s blip” quite clearly, in which temps “blip up” above the zero anomaly line, before dropping back down. If they can reduce the blip, they will reduce the rate of increase in the late 1930’s. The very rapid temperature increase through the 1930’s doesn’t “fit the narrative.” It shows temperature increasing just as rapidly back then, as it is now. The “narrative” says that this early 20th Century warming was “natural,” while the late 20th Century warming was anthropogenic. So they want late 20th Century warming to be faster than the warming that occurred in the earlier 20th Century. Here it is the opposite of “hide the decline.” They want to “hide the blip” seen circa ~1940. Either way, these guys have no shame, nor reluctance to torture the data to get it to confess, even to crimes it did not commit.

  8. Jeff C. said

    Perhaps there are unreleased emails that document the scientific rationale for Dr. Wigley’s suggested adjustment. If so, CRU should release those emails to clear up any misconceptions. What makes this email disturbing is not so much that an adjustment is proposed (there could be a good reason for it after all), but that it is that is couched in terms suggesting it is what they can get away with. This sentence in particular is troubling:

    “I’ve chosen 0.15 here deliberately. This still leaves an ocean blip, and i think one needs to have some form of ocean blip to explain the land blip (via either some common forcing, or ocean forcing land, or vice versa, or all of these)”

    It sure reads like he is saying that they can fudge the SSTs but need to ensure they don’t go too far as then the disagreement with the surface record would be too obvious. I can’t imagine any positive context when interpreting that sentence.

  9. Layman Lurker said


    Jeff, here is a site with some related emails that I only had time to skim for a minute. Interesting stuff to say the least. EPRI I believe is the Electric Power Research Institute.

  10. Phil said

    Vaguely on-topic as it relates to SSTs, but I just found this link in a comment on Pielke Jnr’s blog:

    “Abstract: Climate feedbacks are estimated from fluctuations in the outgoing radiation budget from the latest version of Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE) nonscanner data. It appears, for the entire tropics, the observed outgoing radiation fluxes increase with the increase in sea surface temperatures (SSTs). The observed behavior of radiation fluxes implies negative feedback processes associated with relatively low climate sensitivity. This is the opposite of the behavior of 11 atmospheric models forced by the same SSTs. Therefore, the models display much higher climate sensitivity than is inferred from ERBE…”

    If I read this aright, it’s a reviwed/published paper that strongly suspects the models (which predict catastrophic forcings and hence justify the whole carbon-scam) are utterly wrong. I may be overstating that as I’m only looking at the abstract, but “opposite behavior” is not usually a term of scientific correlation…

  11. Ed said

    Pouncer – go through the code in the cru-code directory. This is used to process the incoming data into the temperature data base.

    The big challenge for them is that they integrate multiple sources of temperature data, and often, there are surprisingly large gaps in the reported data – that means, the readings are empty. That could be because a station was shut down for a period, moved to another location, or the data was lost or corrupted. When that occurs, they try to estimate the missing data by using very nearby stations, if nearby stations are available. Otherwise, they may choose to throw out the station entirely for a period or all together. They also check for outlier data – if a temp reading is several standard deviations “out there”, it gets thrown out.

    Consequently, averaging up data over 150 years is not as easy as it seems. It is not super hard but there are also many “judgment” issues that are made in choosing an algorithm.

  12. timetochooseagain said

    This appears to relate to this paper:

    Thompson, D., et al., 2008. A large discontinuity in the mid-twentieth century in observed global-mean surface temperature. Nature, 453, 646-650, doi:10.1038/nature06982

    I am not up on the details of where this has been headed. But what I don’t like is that there appears to be some suggestion that the pre-1940 data need adjustment (no doubt they are in need of tweaking) what bothers me is that they are apparently discussing reducing the 1911-1941 warming. There is no basis for making such a correction, at least not on the basis of a discontinuity argument like that of the above paper. The decision to eliminate that period is no doubt in response to the fact that it provides a firm argument against climate “acceleration”.

  13. Carrick said

    Jeff, I think this is innocuous.

    I think they are talking about this.

  14. Jeff Id said

    Thanks Carrick. After reading this, my opinion is that they really don’t know though. Innocuous may be too strong a word.

  15. dean said

    Another interesting part of this email is the statement that the 1910-1940 rise cannot be solar. But we also know (from past interactions…) that its not due to CO2 as CO2 didn’t really take off until the last half of the century.

    So what caused it?

  16. Kenneth Fritsch said

    Be very careful of explanations (arm waving) that come out of conversations where the participants appear to know what the answer should be. Under those circumstances one selects an explanation that meets the conclusion out a bucket of many alternatives and suddenly the selection becomes the answer – as in one and only answer. It appears in peer reviewed papers and then the IPCC picks it up and it becomes truth for all time.

    That is why the thinking person will want to analyze these apparent conclusions. If the emails have done anything perhaps they have shown the need for more and continuing analysis.

    By the way, a serach of CA should bring up a thread or two where the bucket issue is discussed and as I recall there were alternate explanations that could be conjectured.

    I know the hurricane people and I think it was Mann who started it had a theory that ships in the past counted almost all hurricanes because those ships did not have the technology and equipment to avoid them and thus sailed right through them. This conjecture was throw out in a peer reviewed paper as an aside and then later referenced in other papers as something more then conjecture. I have called it the “dumb” ships conjecture. There were alternate explanations and reasons to believe that hurricanes and TCs were missed in times past and David Smith did survey and calculated what I called the Easy to Detect index that showed under those conditions that TC activity in the NATL was without a trend. Steve M and Pielke Jr attempted to publish something similar that showed no trend and were rejected for publication for some rather unconvincing reasons as I recall.

    But such are the stuff of which myths are made.

  17. Raven said

    Here is discussion on CA:

    Steve proposed a plausible correction for the buckets that made sense but would have affected all of the temperatures up to 1970 and providing a better fit to TSI.

    However, alarmists would want that so the arbitrarily decided that the correction was only needed for the inconvenient data in the 1940s. It is probably safe to assume that they started with the amount correction they wanted and then figured out what algorithm would provide that correction.

  18. Kenneth Fritsch said

    Raven at # 17:

    Thanks for the link. It was good re-reading that thread. The selected and alternative explanations appear to be conjectures and not supported by experiment. That makes it very easy to apply confirmation bias.

    Note also that climate model calculations were used as standard of comparison in an attempt to validate the adjustments. That is usually the last resort.

  19. Looking at the Briffa 2000 graph I see that the temperature (thicker black line) shows up as hot in 1940 as at the end of the graph. Now to turn that “sketch” into the finished IPCC hockey stick, the 1940 temperature needed to be depressed relative to the end temperature.

    So is the above email, discussions as to how to achieve this?

  20. DaveJR said

    Carrick: That’s clearly what they are talking about, but I find it very strange that they should do this by discussing the advantages of the answer being 0.15C!

    Not only that, but then to continue with “This still leaves an ocean blip, and i think one needs to have some form of ocean blip to explain the land blip”. There *needs* to be a blip? Is this how data is corrected? You look at the characteristics it “needs” to have and then… what?

    Phil replies “Maybe I’m misinterpreting what you’re saying, []”.

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