the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

Warpspeed – Steig Confirms O’Donnel Result

Posted by Jeff Id on December 9, 2010

UPDATE:  It looks like Steve McIntyre has posted the results from the SI on line here. Perhaps it was just a replot with an improved scale.

Real Climate is comprised of the best of the best, after this there can be no question.  Steig, who just recently left a request for a copy of the paper:

Back when Ryan O had written comments at RC, I said something like “I encourage you to submit this work for publication.” I’d glad to see that this work has gone through the peer review process, and I look forward to reading it.

I appreciate also Ryan’s comment that “I would hope that our paper is not seen as a repudiation of Steig’s results, but rather as an improvement” and his emphasizing that their results (evidently) back up our most important point – -the significant warming West Antarctica.

This is indeed the way things ought to work — and evidently do. Too bad Steve McI seems bent on spinning it otherwise. His claim that this new work ‘refutes’ mine is a prime example of why I cannot take him seriously.

Ryan, if you don’t mind sending me a preprint, and a link to your reconstructed data, I’d appreciate it.

I will presumably have more to say after I get a chance to read the paper, but it’ll be a month or more as I’m simply too busy with current projects.

has now replicated our results completely!!!!  What’s even more amazing is that it was done before official publication!!  It took us months!  Man these guys are good.

And our paper’s plot:

Can you notice any differences?

Note that the actual satellite grid coordinates are different, the trends are plotted from -0.4 to 0.4 C/Decade, the continental boundary is missing, the individual pixels are plotted in a different shape and the temperature scale is plotted differently.  Look at the topmost pixels of each plot!!  I believe this may be due to Ryan’s more sophisticated masking algorithm but am unsure at this moment.

I am pleased that Dr. Broccoli was able to see this matter and publish despite repeated recommendations for our work to enter the trash bucket.

In addition to this, my over-polite comment at RC today was clipped.  Apparently, I am unqualified to discuss the paper I coauthored.  What I wrote was the fact that our result is in contradiction to Steig et al,  and the point that continental trends were halved in relation.  I also mentioned that it was a nice learning experience and that S09 wouldn’t have passed this review because they were hard on retained PC’s.  Nic however, got right through.  This is what the boys had to say in response to a trend 1/2 of the S09 paper.

“In response to MapleLeaf’s question in #6, the reason why WUWT showed an image that appears to have less warming than the one shown here seems to be that the scale has been altered on the RealClimate image, covering the range -0.4 to +0.4 rather than a range of -0.6 to +0.6 degrees C as used in the original and reproduced at WUWT. With the colour range used being much the same in both images, that obviously makes the warming trend appear greater in the image shown here. I can confirm that the continental 1957-2006 trend per our reconstruction, at 0.06 degrees C per decade, was only half the 0.12 level shown by the Steig et al. 2009 reconstruction.”

Nicholas Lewis

[Response: Yes. I never said otherwise. The point very simply is that Antarctica is not cooling, no matter how much some people try to make it so. Oh, and West Antarctic is still warming, even if you try to call parts of West Antarctica “the Peninsula”.-eric]

Nobody at this blog ever claimed cooling over that period to my knowledge but we can now claim no continent wide statistically significant warming either.  As it should be.

Region RLS  C/Dec E-W  C/Dec S09   C/Dec
Continent 0.06 ± 0.08 0.04 ± 0.06 0.12 ± 0.09
East Antarctica 0.03 ± 0.09 0.02 ± 0.07 0.10 ± 0.10
West Antarctica 0.10 ± 0.09 0.06 ± 0.07 0.20 ± 0.09
Peninsula 0.35 ± 0.11 0.32 ± 0.09 0.13 ± 0.05

The boys can call it the same thing, they can say it’s only a minor difference, but correct methods cut global warming in half in the Antarctic continent while placing a minor amount of increased warming where it should be – the peninsula!  We also managed to place the West Antarctic back into a minor warming region of either barely significant or not significant warming.  Whatever!  Considering that this is the ice from which the seas must flood, you would think the press would be interested!



This comment deserves a little more air time.  Maple leaf was asking why the trends were higher than the evil WUWT blog.

[The figure here shows O’Donnell’s et al.s reconstruction for the same time period as our Nature cover image. These are annual mean estimates. I cannot speak to WTF WUWT has done.–eric]

Several people noticed the differences.  The WUWT plot in question was the same graphic as ours:

39 Responses to “Warpspeed – Steig Confirms O’Donnel Result”

  1. John M said

    Maybe he was able to do it so fast because he sat in on his own Matlab course.

  2. Brian H said

    Logic-chopping, the last (or nearly last) defense of the incompetent scientist.

  3. Jeff Id said

    Brian, the RC guys aren’t incompetent in the science as much as the PR. Fortunately, they have the entire media to back them up.

  4. Jeff Id said


    [Response: “smoothness” is just file conversion for web posting. ‘Less warming’ is in the eye of the beholder. If the debate is now about ‘how much warming’ rather than warming it all, I guess I’ve won the debate, eh? –eric]

  5. SeanH said

    This level of spin has to loose them some credibility, even amongst the sheep.

  6. Jeremy said

    I gather this post is just one long facetious exposure of someone stealing your work to sap the impact of your paper?

    If so, I approve.

  7. curious said

    ah, the honest doctor…don’t forget the nature cover wasn’t supposed to mean anything, the graphic was only chosen ‘cos somebody “liked it”. Shame they didn’t like it enough to make sure it had a scale stuck on it before the “heat coloured the white continent”:

    I can’t remember who to credit this to but on one of the blogs someone made a comment a while back along the lines that “it’s about now that the grown ups come upstairs to see what the kids have been up to”… I’m nominating Dr Broccoli as one of the grown ups – I hope some others are paying attention.

    John M – 🙂 !!

  8. Steve Fitzpatrick said


    Reading over the RC post and comments, it seems Eric is really in snit about this. His “WTF WUWT did” comment is both childish and factually wrong. I just don’t understand the level of animosity. A few times Eric actually stood out as the most reasonable of the RC crew… um, make that ‘team’. Do you have any insight?

  9. Kenneth Fritsch said

    Nobody at this blog ever claimed cooling over that period to my knowledge but we can now claim no continent wide statistically significant warming either. As it should be.

    Jeff ID, you have gotten to the essence of the thing and I also think the essence of something publishable versus something that is not. To show that something is statistically significant makes a big difference when publishing. How would Steig et al have appeared if it merely pointed to a novel method of determining past temperatures in a past period using the spatial relationships developed in a later period? I ask again on this thread: Did O’Donnell 2010 attempt to determine how stable the spatial relationships for temperatures were in the Antarctica over time?

  10. […] See this helpful post on The Air Vent regarding these same […]

  11. Jeff Id said

    I like Eric, but his biggest paper is being punched in the nose. I wouldn’t make a big deal of it except that they keep looking for big piles of poop to jump in. I mean, why change the scale of his plot? What is the point of claiming a trend which is half of theirs is the same? There will be more opportunities for the doc to publish and make a name, heating the Antarctic beyond real though should have been caught by the pro’s before publication.

  12. Jeff Id said


    We posted trends on various periods and seasons. My impression is that there is a lot of natural variance in trend also.

  13. curious said

    From Judith Curry’s sensible post:

    “Eager for the publicity, high impact journals such as Nature, Science, and PNAS frequently publish sensational but dubious papers that support the climate alarm narrative.”

  14. Steve Fitzpatrick said

    Jeff, #11

    Thanks. One thing this episode points out is that “high impact” broad subject area journals like Nature and Science may not do nearly the job they should on careful peer review. I mean, if group of outsiders could look at the data and in a few days conclude that the analysis had to be mistaken, how was it possible that expert reviewers in the field could miss this? It is not Eric et al who should be embarrassed, it is Nature.

  15. AMac said

    In addition to this, my over-polite comment at RC today was clipped. Apparently, I am unqualified to discuss the paper I coauthored.

    Jeff, are you are saying that you–one of the authors of the paper being discussed at the linked RC post–wrote a comment to that post which failed moderation?

    At this writing, there are 21 comments to that RC post, none of them yours.

    It’s their printing press, so they can do most anything they want, as a political website.

    Still, if my understanding is correct, that’s a shameful exercise of the power of moderation, from the point of view of scientific ethics.

    The ideal is to have a full airing of ideas and controversies, on a level playing field.

  16. Pat Frank said

    One very nice consequence of making the scale bar (+/-)0.4 C instead of (+/-)0.6 C, is that the hot color disparity is much more stark. The visual impression is of much more warming than the numbers relate.

    That makes Steig’s recalculation of the OLMC result look much more like his S09 result, despite the significant differences.

    I’d guess, looking at Steig’s graphic, that most people will carry away an impression that OLMC, like Steig 09, shows Antarctica is radically warming; an impression, that is, controlled by the exciting visual impact rather than by the boring list of numbers.

    The OLMC RLS and E-W results show that, apart from the Peninsula, Antarctic temperature trends are not significantly different from zero. (I don’t believe statistical excursions of (+/-)0.01 C are physically significant.)

    Steig09 reports, incorrectly as we now know, that West Antarctica is warming at almost twice the rate of the Peninsula. That’s hardly an insignificant error.

    Think anyone who’s anyone who’s a propagandist will publicly notice?

  17. Luis Dias said

    What is obvious from RC’s (Eric’s) shenannigan is that they are trying full blown PR stunt to appease their audience and to claim how silly “skeptics” really are. They have succeeded at doing this:

    1 – First, they make the authors go back and forth 88 pages of tit-for-tat. All professional, and I am not doubting that, but in the meantime, RC can claim in their posts and comments that the “skeptics” were even wrong to point to Antarctica’s lack of cooling.

    2 – Then, cormudgeonly accepting the facts, take advantage of Ryan’s niceties and declare that the paper is *not* a refutation and that all Antarctica’s findings by Steig remain, by implication. This is factually untrue, since Steig’s main “novelty” was about finding a statistically significant warming for the entirety of the continent, which has been refuted by this paper.

    3 – While taking advantage of Ryan’s niceties, point to McIntyre’s ridiculous stance “how can I take him seriously?”.

    4 – In RC’s realm, knowing full well 99% of his audience will not read WUWT, tAV, etc., makes a satire about Media, McIntyre and “skeptics” reaction to the “Science”, making the joke about McIntyre claiming that Steig was refuted, while showing a manipulated picture that shows the same kind of warming that Steig claimed originally. McIntyre sure is stupid, ain’t he?

    5 – 99% of the RC audience rests convinced that S09 stands as good science, that skeptics *can indeed* publish in peer-review, that McIntyre is a paranoid lunatic, and that Eurasia has always been at war with Oceania.

    Mission Accomplished.

  18. Eric Steig said


    I don’t know what you are on about. I didn’t ‘reproduce’ your results. Those are your results. Ryan sent them to me.


    P.S. Please send me the comment you claim got ‘snipped’ at RC. I assure you I didn’t snip it!

  19. Jeff Id said

    I posted several hours ago. It was polite and on topic. I’ve been snipped for the same kind of thing so many times it doesn’t surprise me at all. Ask your moderators.

  20. Jeff Id said

    Also, note the update.

  21. stan said

    What I find really, really disturbing is that anyone at RC wants to claim that really crappy data from four interior sites on an entire continent can be massaged with an unusual stats methodology and tell us anything meaningful at all. If Eric thinks that the incredibly small trends that have been massaged from a tiny set of crappy data are really important, he has lost all perspective as a scientist.

  22. dl said

    Why are you concerned with what they write at RealClimate. Those people have lost any influence that they ever might have had.

  23. PaulM said

    From RC:

    2010 Eric Steig: Nice paper Ryan. Thanks for sending along a pre-print.

    Comment 24 [Response: I don’t know why I’m defending the lunatics, … –eric]


  24. bigcitylib said

    Once again, congrats for confirming Steig’s result, but this arguing over the colours in the plot is silly. Are you talking about the climate of Antarctica or decorating your apartment?

  25. curious said

    24 cbl – insightful/inciteful as ever.

  26. stephen parrish said

    bcl, shagged sheep, mark steyn, google. long, but fun.

  27. AMac said

    Re: Jeff Id (Dec 9 22:57),

    I posted [a comment to the RC thread] several hours ago. It was polite and on topic.

    The comment count at RC is up to 33 at this writing, with no contribution from Jeff that I can see.

    The way RC seems to operate, those comments that are held for a long time in moderation and then approved, are inserted in the thread on the basis of their original timestamp, which is assigned at submission. On an active thread, this has the effect of “burying” held-up comments where the readers who are keeping up with the discussion won’t notice them.

    Again, the operators of that website can do as they wish, but it’s not particularly admirable.

  28. Jeff Id said


    I’m fairly certain that someone other than Eric must have snipped it. Unfortunately, I didn’t expect it to be snipped so I didn’t save my usual copy. It is the reason you can’t go there to read or learn anything. It wasn’t important enough to go back and try again anyway. They can come here for our opinions and I won’t snip them.

  29. Jan said

    Here’s some help BCL:

    Noticing Differences

  30. AMac said

    Re: Jeff Id (Dec 10 08:45),

    AMac says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    10 December 2010 at 9:06 AM

    Apparently, two of the authors of the paper under discussion have submitted comments to this post, Nicholas Lewis and Jeff Condon. “Nic_L”‘s remarks passed moderation. At this writing (33 comments published), “Jeff Id”‘s appear to have been failed (though not by Eric Steig).

    The owners of this (and every other) printing press can handle comments as they see fit. Of course. That said, RealClimate‘s policy seems a poor match to the norms of scientific discourse. The possibility of a technical error shouldn’t be discounted. On the other hand, this blog has earned its reputation with respect to aggressive moderation.

  31. Kenneth Fritsch said

    I ask again on this thread: Did O’Donnell 2010 attempt to determine how stable the spatial relationships for temperatures were in the Antarctica over time?

    I will attempt to explain better what I mean here: If I have determined pair-wise correlations of temperatures for points a,b,c,..x,y,z, etc. over time series of let us say 10 years, how much would these pair-wise correlations change over other 10 year periods. I am thinking that you would need to know how well that correlation holds up over time in order to get a more complete picture of the uncertainty of using that relationship to project/infill past temperatures.

    There would also, of course, be the uncertainty from the correlation in the calibration period having uncertainties. No matter the specific method(s) used I do not believe you can “get around” these uncertainties.

    I am hoping that posters here will be more interested in discussing the O’Donnell paper at this level than getting into food fights with those with different POVs as that proves nothing and takes away attention from the real fun stuff.

  32. Jeremy said

    Eric feels we’re the lunatics while operating in an echo chamber himself. Indeed the bazaar must look a lot like lunacy to those fretting over their pedicures in the ivory tower. (all Apologies to Eric Scott Raymond for the paraphrase)

  33. steven mosher said


    Check the green book.

  34. Nic L said

    Re Kenneth, #31:

    The spatial correlations shown by the cloud-masked satellite data are reasonably consistent over time. If you compute the mean absolute difference between all 5509 x 5509 grid cell correlations as estimated using respectiveley the first half of the 25 year satellite record and the second half thereof, you get almost the same result as when comparing the mean absolute difference in correlations as estimated using respectively odd and even years.

    If the spatial correlations had been changing materially, or (due to cloud cover and/or other problems) the satellite data was too poor quality to give decent spatial correlation estimates, then we would not have obtained the good verification statistics for our reconstruction that we did.

    It will be appreciated that drift over time in the calibration of the satellite temperature measurements has little effect on the estimates of spatial correlations derived therefrom.

  35. Jan said

    Oh dear, that surely didn’t work. I’ll try it again:

    A primer on noticing differences, BCL:

  36. Carrick said

    Kenneth Fritsch:

    I ask again on this thread: Did O’Donnell 2010 attempt to determine how stable the spatial relationships for temperatures were in the Antarctica over time?

    I believe I understand the point of the question…. it deals with whether the spatial correlation function, which presumably you’re using satellite observations to help measure only over the period 1979-current, varies over time. I thought that part was poorly addressed in Steig’s original paper.

    I suggested at the time when S09 came out that somebody did a study on the US to see whether this question could be answered on a regional scale. It may however be the case that the Antarctica is more stable than the US, or the US is more stable than I would consider, but you’d at least a model based study to make the case one way or another.

    For the US, in particular, I wouldn’t be surprised there are ENSO effects on the spatial correlation function. The Antarctica (Peninsula an exception) one might expect a more stable pattern… but it needs to be checked.

  37. Layman Lurker said

    I suspect that Ryan has already investigated this question. Remember this post ? Even back then he had everything all ready to go for Monte Carlo’s on simulations with known covariance. Now that a paper might be in the works on this I’m hopefull that he will allow us to share in this process through blogging.

  38. kim said

    What’s behind the Green Door?

  39. hewsadelor said

    Дам Вашу рекламу на сто тыс. форумов 50$. дополнительно можно менять текст +20$, использовать ВЧ слова +20$

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