Upside Down Tiljander is BAD — Who knew?

Wow, my whole post vanished. I’ll try again but this is very disappointing.

I’ve read about 5 percent of the emails so far and at this point the main conclusion  I come to is that the scientists are far more skeptical in private than they are in the public.   They don’t say dammit, we know for certain that today’s warming is the greatest ever, they say  that it appears to at least equal the historic level.  They say that they are unsure of the results and often comment that the data isn’t good enough.  This is all in private of course.  What we get in public is the certianty that they are correct.  We get comments from Mann that the finnish varve sediments can be used either way – upside right or down but the emails discuss corrections to published papers for the same problems.  Below are a couple of graphs taken from climate audit.  My blog is acting up so you will see them as I am writing rather than after I’ve finished.


This is what Mann had to say about the matter in reply to an official comment by McIntyre and I believe McKitrick on the use of the data in the upside down orientation shown above:

The claim that ‘‘upside down’ data were used is bizarre. Multivariate regression methods are insensitive to the sign of predictors. Screening, when used, employed one-sided tests only when a definite sign could be a priori reasoned on physical grounds. Potential nonclimatic influences on the Tiljander and other proxies were discussed in the SI, which showed that none of our central conclusions relied on their use.

Of course we get an entirely different and correctly skeptical view of using a temperature series upside down from the behind-the-scenes emails below.  My bold.

date: Wed, 23 Sep 2009 16:49:47 +0100 (BST)
subject: Re: more from McIntyre
to: “Darrell Kaufman” <>

sorry to be out of loop – [[[redacted: health]]]
– today I went in to university but will not be
officially back til 1st Nov. I will try to respond in detail tomorrow –
but I do not know the basic crux of the Yamal complaint  – I suppose I
must spend time on the Climate Audit website – but have been loathe to do
so as many criticisms that have come to my attention seem crass or
misguided. Please prompt again if you can point me to the specifics of the
problem with Yamal – as for other long chronologies in Eurasia , I am
aware of one further East than the area upon which we focussed in our
Phil. Trans. paper – published I believe in a conference abstract only –
the raw data are not , I believe, available until Malcolm Hughes releases
them . The chronology that exists (produced by Russian colleagues) might
be available and I will try to find out  – you could ask Anders Moberg for
the data directly – this would help me in the meantime – I need to know
more specifics re Yamal. I do not believe there are long series other than
those you used but will also have to check the 60 north criterion to be

> Hi Keith:
> I realize that you are out of the office and I’m sorry to bother you
> about this again, but the recent Arctic warming paper seems to have
> had a major impact. Because it’s in the lime light, I think it’s
> important that we publish an erratum to correct my error in reversing
> the Finnish lake-varve series. Two other authors also found minor
> errors in their proxy time series and we will include these revisions
> as well. None of the revisions change the conclusions, but we want to
> be as accurate as possible.
> As we are preparing for to publish the erratum, it would be helpful if
> you could double check that we have included all of the most current
> tree-ring time series that meet the criteria of the study:
> – north of 60N
> – at least 1000 years long
> In addition the the Gulf of Alaska, we included the three from your
> 2008 Phil Trans paper: Fennoscandia, Yamal, and Avam-Timyr
> Did we miss any? It’s important because we claim that our study
> includes all of the published proxy data that meet these criteria. Is
> there a published record from the Indigirka River region that we
> neglected to include?
> Regarding the criticism that the new Yamal series looks so much
> different than the earlier Polar Urals series, I assume that the RCS
> approach that you used for the 2008 study supersedes and is superior
> to any previous analyses. Is that a fair statement?
> Thanks.
> Darrell
> On Sep 8, 2009, at 10:12 AM, wrote:
>> Darrell
>> I do not read his blog – if YOU ask him for more detail of what he
>> means
>> (it can not be Grudd’s work) then I will think about it. Will be
>> back in
>> touch before end of week on other stuff.Keith
>>> Hi Keith:
>>> this from McIntyre:
>>> Briffa’s Yamal series, which has been a staple of these sorts of
>>> studies for many  years.   It would be highly desirable for someone
>>> to
>>> do a detailed reconciliation of why the updated version of Polar
>>> Urals
>>> yields such different results to Briffa’s Yamal series.
>>> I assume he’s referring to Grud’s (sp) recent work. Let me know if
>>> you
>>> have a quick explanation.
>>> Thanks.


What we skeptics (is that what we are?) know though is that upside down data does reverse the conclusions of far more popular hockey sticks.

35 thoughts on “Upside Down Tiljander is BAD — Who knew?

  1. it’s ok…Nick Stokes has jumped the shark over on the blackboard

    Nick Stokes (Comment #86064)
    November 23rd, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    Steve, Joking? No. Who do you think RC are suppressing, and how?

  2. It is frustrating guys because my first post was written with much greater care. Anyway, I’m sure you’re reading too and the emails are full of gold.

  3. Jeff,
    I agree that the most surprising message in many of these emails is the level of questioning/doubt among wroking climate scientists, which neither makes it to public discussion nor into the literature. The leadership (Trenberth, Mann, Jones, and the rest of the cabal) show not a hint of doubt, and are 100% pulling for ‘the cause’, but the troops seem a lot less certain. The encouraging thing is (I guess) that these folks are a lot more aware of the many weaknesses in the CAGW argument than they ever let on publicly, which speaks well of their intellect. The discouraging thing is that, well, they never do let on about their doubts, which speaks rather poorly of their courage….. and the social environment they must work in. Climate science is not healthy; the top brass needs to go.

  4. Actually I’m not certain that this email didn’t also exist in the original release. This computer doesn’t have the original climategate data on it. Either way, there are plenty of other similar emails.

  5. Jeff,

    Note that your figures fail to reflect the correct data for the year 1326. That year had an exceptionally thick varve. See the comments to the post that Carrick linked, supra.

    As recorded by A.E.K. Ojala, 1325’s varve was 1.70 mm, 1326’s was 19.0 mm, and 1327’s was 1.09 mm (this is by formula combining Lightsum and Darksum, as the Tiljander03 authors don’t appear to have placed Thickness itself in the NOAA archive).

    As used in Mann08 and archived within Mann08’s data set, 1325’s varve was 1.70 mm, 1326’s was 1.39 mm, and 1327’s was 1.09 mm.

    With the original values replaced with ones that are averages of the two neighboring years, unsightly 14th century spikes in the graphs are happily absent.

    Does it matter? With so much else about the uses of Tiljander03 that are so wrong, probably not. It’s just another instance of cavalier treatment of inconvenient data.



    Mann08 treated four Tiljander03 data series as independent, when they aren’t. Kaufman09 used only XRD. As noted, they originally had XRD in the upside-down orientation, and issued a correction when McIntyre posted on the subject.

  6. Jeff – your blog software is a poor editor. They all are. I host blogs so know the angry letters to the host view of it. Do your editing on your PC in Notepad, Wordpad, vi, emacs, anything but on-line. You will never lose another post.

  7. Kaufman issued a correction, and there was a similar email in the release 2 years ago, about apologizing to the author . Was really hoping you had an e-mail from Mann there. I remember emailing Kaufman at the time saying that his correction made the issue harder to illuminate for skeptics, as he had an easy spreadsheet in the SI.

  8. #13 Thanks for that. I’m just reading along slowly. There are five thousand emails. I’m making a list of those of interest and plan to set up my other machine for comparison to the previous email release. The whole process is painfully slow. If you find something in the meantime, let me know.

  9. Jeff ID

    If you need an easy to use facility to do keyword text searches on the Climategate 1.0 emails then my CRU emails search facility still exists.

    You can find it at

    The username is pjones and the password is themanbehindthecurtain

    After you log in click the ‘Advanced search’ link to search specific fields for particular text strings.

    Hope it helps

    If I get sometime I might be able to do a Climategate 2.0 version.



  10. Jeff ID

    “Actually I’m not certain that this email didn’t also exist in the original release. This computer doesn’t have the original climategate data on it. Either way, there are plenty of other similar emails.”

    Just used the CRU email search facility and that email exchange between KB and DK is not in the Climategate 1.0 emails.

    1252164302.txt is the main email that discuss the Tiljander ‘upside down’ issue and what they intend to do about it.

  11. KevinUK – 3 CG1 emails on “Tiljander”. Mike Mann was only copied on the final one.

    1252154659.txt / 1252164302.txt / 1252233095.txt

  12. Jeff, you say, from your reading of the e-mails, that your main conlcusion is “the scientists are far more skeptical in private than they are in the public”. But I wonder where that impression comes from and what the reason for it is. I haven’t seen anything highlighted yet which is new, nothing that can’t be shown to have been discussed somewhere in public (possibly the deleting e-mails, althought there is plenty of ambiguity about that still), this post being a good example I think.

    I’m not saying that the doubts are getting the same air-time in public as they do in the e-mails, but rather asking about why they aren’t. I think the problem is that far too much time in the public discussion is being spent on addressing clearly unjustified and incorrect criticisms, which squeezes discussions about legitimate concerns into a narrow bandwidth. Those discussions are still there, not least in the published scientific literature, as the above example shows.

    Why is this happening? Well my impression is because many critics aren’t willing to discriminate carefully enough between valid and invalid criticisms. I think your publishing the excerpts from the e-mails, self evidently taken out of context to create a false impression as I think your conclusion above tacitly acknowledges, adds to this problem.

  13. I’ve read plenty of brow beating from these guys in public for making comments that Mann didn’t like because they hinted his reconstructions might have a problem. In private, some of the scientists seem fully aware that the paeloclimate portion of the IPCC is pure crap. Some of the criticisms they make about other papers being crap are true and others are just anger about damage to the cause. I love when they work themselves up about a 0.2C change in a curve which is likely +/- 2 in reality just because it shows too high of a MWP. A lot of this has nothing to do with science, other parts do.

    There are plenty of bad criticisms toward climate science but many good ones are dismissed out of hand. You may not have the math background but I read yesterday some commentary on a MM article using PCA and the author had NOT one clue what the hell he was talking about. Mann is a rocket surgeon to some of these guys.

  14. Pure crap or aware that there are issues with it?

    But more importantly why are they being so defensive? Critics can’t absolve themselves of all responsibility when they repeat, knowingly, unfounded criticisms.

  15. > Mann is a rocket surgeon to some of these guys.

    Or, “Mann is a rocket surgeon compared to some of these guys”?

    Either way, lol

  16. Pure crap or are there issues with it? As Bradley said to Briffa in 3373.txt

    I’m sure you agree–the Mann/Jones GRL paper was truly pathetic and should never
    have been published. I don’t want to be associated with that 2000 year

  17. #19 OPatrick

    Jeff, you say, from your reading of the e-mails, that your main conlcusion is “the scientists are far more skeptical in private than they are in the public”. But I wonder where that impression comes from and what the reason for it is. I haven’t seen anything highlighted yet which is new, nothing that can’t be shown to have been discussed somewhere in public (possibly the deleting e-mails, althought there is plenty of ambiguity about that still), this post being a good example I think.

    I can’t make sense of anything you say here. If you want to show that Jeff was wrong in his impression, then simply cite the cases where these scientists publicly express the doubts they discuss in these emails.

  18. Jeff

    Very interesting, 7 different reconstruction methods (used across scores of published papers) tested including Mann’s, BC’s (peer-reviewed) results were:

    1) All methods strongly underestimates the amplitude of
    low-frequency variability and trends. This means that
    it is almost impossible to conclude from reconstruction studies that
    the present period is warmer than any period in the
    reconstructed period.

    2) There is a large element of chance in the reconstructions.
    This might also explain some of the opposing results obtained
    in previous studies.

    We can (almost) all agree with 1, but I think 2 is somewhat generous to Mann’s method, given what we know of it’s proclivities.

    As Briffa agreed with Bradley, that was two scientists about one paper, one of whom worked for one of the authors and so was in a difficult position, plus a further three scientists commenting about (issues with or pure-crapiness of?) the whole area of proxy temperature reconstructions. From just two of the emails.

  19. #19 OPatrick

    Actually, I hadn’t read the post and comment thread when I commented in #26 so I apologize. I agree with Nick and Nike that the Kaufman corrigenda is a poor example to argue that “the scientists are far more skeptical in private than they are in the public”.

  20. Kaufman does come off OK in the e-mails, though wanting to give a correction only because it’s high profile doesn’t seem right. Either way, I wish Steve had just called him as Kaufman asked instead of getting worked up about Kaufman’s saying CA has vicious commentary. As it was, I ended up breaking the news of the correction to the Arctic warming paper, and possibly was the impetus for getting an acknowledgment for Hu in the process.

  21. MikeN – whilst I have also seen plenty of evidence that Kaufman was trying to do good scientific work I still struggle conceptually with all these scientists continuing to recycle data where it is clear that none of them understand the properties of the data and whether it is appropriate for their work.

    Steve McIntyre will often get very prickly about criticism of CA and Steve often creates problems for himself in the way he handles the criticism. However I was not impressed by the way Kaufman broke off any further engagement with Steve quite early on given the fact that Steve had identified the upside down error and which should have been properly acknowledged by Kaufman even if he did not like the reception at CA.

  22. There were lots of questions about K09 which were just beginning to be explored at CA when it was sideswiped first by Yamal, and then of course by climategate. The original project was thoughtful and well planned, with rigorous and standardized protocols for sampling arctic lake sediments. Sadly, the project seemed to slide out of control with nothing documenting why individual projects were abandoned.

  23. Layman Lurker, I think the sideswiping by Yamal was a result of this paper coming out. The use of Yamal probably caused Steve to notice that Briffa finally posted the data, which itself may have been a result of this paper.

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