Password Protected Sites: SOAP and Trolls

In some of our discussions of data archiving, the principal rationalization of a researcher’s not archiving data at recognized permanent archives (such as WDCP) has been the argument that they should be able to maintain confidentiality for a period of exclusive use.

I’ve noticed that some researchers have established password-protected private archives, to which some but not all interested researchers can have access. This seems like a strange sort of confidentiality to me. As an analogy, legal advice to a client is privileged, but the client would waive the privilege if he showed the advice to a bunch of his friends. I realize that the analogy isn’t perfect, but I think that there is an issue here.

I can somewhat understand the argument for data being private for a limited period (although I would be pretty tough on enforcing the terms of the contract), but I’m having trouble understanding the rationale for password protected sites with access limited to the initiate. I’ve tried unsuccessfully to get access to the European data at SO&P, managed by Briffa and Osborn. We can only hope that Briffa’s concept of a reasonable period of exclusive use will be less than 22 years.

The SO&P website here states:

SO&Pis a research project funded by the European Union and led by Tim Osborn and Keith Briffa at UEA’s Climatic Research Unit. The project will simulate the climate of the last 500 years, will develop improved reconstructions of the real climate over this period, and will compare the two to provide an important test of the climate models and an improved estimate of natural climate variability. This work will then be used to better quantify the uncertainty in future climate projections, and to re-assess the detection of unusual climate change in the observations.

An important data set of early temperatures back to 1781, published in 2003, is password protected on this website, which states:

Phil Jones has created an earlier version of his global gridded temperature data set, using only stations that have data back before 1851. Coverage is almost completely limited to Europe, and this data set goes back to 1781. It can be merged with his standard post-1851 land temperature data set (CRUTEM2 — see above). The reference for this early gridded data set is: Jones PD, Moberg A, Osborn TJ and Briffa KR (2003) Surface climate responses to explosive volcanic eruptions seen in long European temperature records and mid-to-high latitude tree-ring density around the Northern Hemisphere. In Volcanism and the Earth’s atmosphere (ed. Robock A and Oppenheimer C), American Geophysical Union, Washington, DC (in press). Access to these data, via this SO&P website, is currently limited to members of the SO&P project. The data are password-protected.

The tree ring chronologies using Briffa’s ABD method for the 387 sites used in the Hockey Team multiproxy study Briffa et al. [2001] is also hosted here and is also password protected. The measurements are not archived here; I think that the measurements are among a larger set, archived by Schweingruber at WDCP a few years ago. However, Briffa has never identified the 387 sites and has refused to respond to a simple request asking for the identity of the 387 sites.

The website says:

The "Schweingruber" network consists of 387 chronologies from across the northern hemisphere, from locations selected to have greatest sensitivity of tree-growth to growing-season temperature. The data files available here are tree-ring width and maximum latewood density. See Briffa et al. (2001, 2002a, 2002b) for analysis of this network. Briffa KR, Osborn TJ, Schweingruber FH, Harris IC, Jones PD, Shiyatov SG, Vaganov EA (2001) Low-frequency temperature variations from a norther tree ring density network. Journal of Geophysical Research 106, 2929-2941. Briffa KR, Osborn TJ, Schweingruber FH, Jones PD, Shiyatov SG and Vaganov EA (2002a) Tree-ring width and density data around the Northern Hemisphere: part 1, local and regional climate signals. The Holocene 12, 737-757. Briffa KR, Osborn TJ, Schweingruber FH, Jones PD, Shiyatov SG and Vaganov EA (2002b) Tree-ring width and density data around the Northern Hemisphere: part 2, spatio-temporal variability and associated climate patterns. The Holocene 12, 759-789. The individual raw measurements, from some 10,000 tree cores, are not available from this website. All tree cores from each site and species have been cross-dated, standardised to remove the age-related component of tree growth, and combined into 387 site/species chronologies. The standardisation used a detrending-type method, as explained in Briffa et al. (2002a, 2002b), that also removes multi-century climate variations. These data should, therefore, be used mainly for inter-annual and inter-decadal time scale studies. The "age-band decomposition" method of Briffa et al. (2001) has not been applied at the individual chronology level, so chronologies without loss of multi-century time scale climate variations are not available. Access to these data, via this SO&P website, is currently limited to members of the SO&P project. The data are password-protected.

Another dataset from France is likewise password protected. The website ironically says that the "data base is freely accessible, though access is limited to the data description".

As part of the work funded by SO&P, partner CNRS/UDESAM at the CEREGE laboratory, Antoine Nicault, Simon Brewer and Joel Guiot have created a tree-ring data base from earlier work on the FORMAT data base. This new data base, DENDRODB, has been filled with data from more than 600 tree-ring sites from Euroasia. 256 sites have tree-ring width chronologies of 300 years or longer, and 90 sites have tree-ring density chronologies of 300 years or longer. (Note that there is a partial overlap with the chronologies in the Schweingruber network, especially for the density chronologies, but many more ring-width series are available here.) The DENDRODB data base is freely accessible, though access is currently limited to the data description. SO&P project staff can, at present, contact Antoine Nicault (antoine.nicault@univ.u-3mrs.fr) for access to the data themselves.

Data from two models, HADCM3 and ECHO-G, is password protected, although both have been published. The website says of HadCM3:

Identifier: HadCM3 (please always use this when referring to the model, to ensure consistent terminology). Reference to the model: Gordon C, Cooper C, Senior CA, Banks H, Gregory JM, Johns TC, Mitchell JFB and Wood RA (2000) The simulation of SST, sea ice extents and ocean heat transports in a version of the Hadley Centre coupled model without flux adjustments. Climate Dynamics 16, 147-168. Global and hemispheric time series, monthly fields and seasonal fields are now available for some variables. Click here for access. These data are password-protected.

For ECHO-G, the website says:

ECHO-G version 4, T30 resolution (please always use this when referring to the model, to ensure consistent terminology). Reference to the model: Legutke S and Voss R (1999) ECHO-G, the Hamburg atmosphere-ocean coupled circulation model. DKRZ technical report 18, DKRZ, Hamburg. (PDF reprint) Model Data Global and hemispheric time series and monthly fields are now available for some variables. Click here for access. These data are password-protected.

From the sublime to the antipodal, we find more password protected data sets here: Amery data (needs username and password). Miscellaneous files (needs username and password). TASMARC files (needs username and password).

Here is a picture of the guardian of the passwords in front of a magic rock. The magic rock is said to show rising sea levels. If you are one of the initiate, you will be able to see that the mark has already been submerged by rising sea levels. It is feared that utterance of the password by an uninitiate will enrage the gods, and cause sea levels to rise up and engulf the magic rock. It is also believed that utterance of the SO&P password by one of the uninitiate will cause drought, pestilence, scorching heat and Ice Ages.


46 Comments

  1. Greg F
    Posted Jul 31, 2005 at 5:09 PM | Permalink | Reply

    …but I’m having trouble understanding the rationale for password protected sites.

    The answer is simple, you have to be a member of the ‘Church of Climatology’® to examine the sacred scriptures.

  2. John Hunter
    Posted Jul 31, 2005 at 9:22 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Steve: you are apparently “having trouble understanding the rationale for password protected sites with access limited to the initiate”. Well, in my case, you could have found the answer by simply emailing me (rather than resorting to further posturing). There is nothing sinister about it. I (and, I assume, many others) use the web as a way of correspondence. If I want to send someone a set of files, and if these files would possibly clog up the recipient’s email system, it is far easier for all concerned if I put the files on the web. Now, I do not normally broadcast all my correspondence to the world (do you? do government departments?), so I naturally protect these files with a password. Also, there are additional good reasons why such files should be confidential — for example, they may contain preliminary data or they may involve the intellectual property of the Australian Government. Now, it is possible that a case could be made for access to such data, by an Australian, under the Commonwealth Freedom of Information Act 1982 — but release of such data would not be automatic (i.e. there are a number of possible reasons for exemption). However, a non-Australian would have absolutely no a-priori right to such data. It would, in fact, be very difficult to justify posting the data on the web WITHOUT password protection.

    To put your mind at ease, here are descriptions of the contents of the password-protected files:

    “Amery data”: preliminary (unpublished) data on the geometry of the Amery Ice Shelf, for use in our modelling of the cavity underneath the shelf.

    “Miscellaneous files”: copies of preprints and reprints of papers, and of many presentations. Much of this is covered by copyright and could not legally be displayed on the web.

    “TASMARC files”: images showing proposed sites of survey marks to be used in our study of shoreline movement around Tasmania. These were for viewing by a local Aboriginal Heritage Officer, in order to check if any sites could impact aboriginal relics (e.g. artifacts or remains). This was simply part of a confidential correspondence between myself and a State Government department. It would have been quite inappropriate to release the locations of proposed sites prior to getting full clearance. I am sure that, with your vast experience in the mining industry, you recognise and respect the sensitivity of such heritage issues.

    So ….. another storm in a teacup from climateaudit, a monument to disinformation.

  3. John A
    Posted Aug 1, 2005 at 1:13 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Who is paying for SO&P? Where does the money come from? Who is the granting authority?

  4. Bernd Stràƒ⵨er
    Posted Aug 1, 2005 at 2:14 AM | Permalink | Reply

    SO&P, or also SOAP, is a project of the European Community, and also paid by them.

    SO&P: Project Summary
    European Commission contract number: EVK2-CT-2002-00160 SOAP
    SO&P is a research project funded by the European Union and led by Tim Osborn and Keith Briffa at UEA’s Climatic Research Unit. The project will simulate the climate of the last 500 years, will develop improved reconstructions of the real climate over this period, and will compare the two to provide an important test of the climate models and an improved estimate of natural climate variability. This work will then be used to better quantify the uncertainty in future climate projections, and to re-assess the detection of unusual climate change in the observations.
    Problems to be solved
    This project will establish the capability of state-of-the-art European climate models to simulate the changes that have occurred in climate during the last five centuries. The ultimate aims of the work are: to establish the credibility of future climate estimates based on the models and to reexamine the question of how much of the recent large-scale warming observed in instrumental data is attributable to natural variability and how much is the result of anthropogenic modification of the terrestrial and atmospheric environment.

    The specific objectives are summarised as follows:
    To use observational and reconstructed climate, and climate simulations under historical external forcing, to evaluate the reliability of state-of-the-art climate models that are currently used in climate change signal detection studies and for future climate predictions.
    To analyse simulated climate variations for the period AD 1500-2000 using two advanced climate models forced with natural (volcanic aerosols, solar irradiance and orbital changes) and combined natural and anthropogenic (greenhouse gases, ozone, and sulphate aerosols) forcings.
    To provide improved regional estimates of the natural variability of climate on annual, decadal, and century time scales over the last 500 years, based on a new compendium and calibration of instrumental, documentary and palaeoclimate records.

    Participants are

    Dr. Tim Osborn Joint coordinator, WP1 leader SOAP WP2 WP3 WP4 WP5 M7 t.osborn@uea.ac.uk Prof. Keith Briffa Joint coordinator, WP3 leader SOAP WP2 WP3 WP4 WP5 M7 k.briffa

    Prof. Ulrich Cubasch WP4 leader, model simulations
    Prof. Hans von Storch Model simulations, model-proxy comparison

    Material they use :

    Mann et al. (1998) multi-proxy network.
    Mann ME, Bradley RS and Hughes MK (1998) Global-scale temperature patterns and climate forcing over the past six centuries. Nature 392, 779-787.
    Mann et al. (1998) used a network of many different types of proxy data to perform their reconstructions of global temperature patterns.

    http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/projects/soap/data/proxy/

    Cubasch and von Storch have their problems with MBH98.

  5. Paul Gosling
    Posted Aug 1, 2005 at 2:28 AM | Permalink | Reply

    It seems pretty clear that these most of these data sets are work in progress. I wouldn’t just hand them over to anyone who asked.

  6. David H
    Posted Aug 1, 2005 at 3:21 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Do we have any legal brains contributing to this site? Is our UK freedom of Information Act not meant to address these sorts of issue? While we are at it we could help Michael Mann to answer Jo Barton’s questions. Here I am thinking of the penultimate paragraph of his reply (http://www.realclimate.org/Mann_response_to_Barton.pdf ) in which says:
    “If the Committee is interested in pursuing these matters, I would urge that the committee contact Sir John Houghton, the head of the Working Group, at the Hadley Centre in England”

  7. John Hunter
    Posted Aug 1, 2005 at 3:40 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Steve: Given that you pour scorn on both my web security and my work at Port Arthur, I wonder if you have the decency to let me respond.

    You are apparently "having trouble understanding the rationale for password protected sites with access limited to the initiate". Well, in my case, you could have found the answer by simply emailing me (rather than resorting to further posturing). There is nothing sinister about it. I (and, I assume, many others) use the web as a way of correspondence. If I want to send someone a set of files, and if these files would possibly clog up the recipient’s email system, it is far easier for all concerned if I put the files on the web. Now, I do not normally broadcast all my correspondence to the world (do you? do government departments?), so I naturally protect these files with a password. Also, there are additional good reasons why such files should be confidential — for example, they may contain preliminary data or they may involve the intellectual property of the Australian Government. Now, it is possible that a case could be made for access to such data, by an Australian, under the Commonwealth Freedom of Information Act 1982 — but release of such data would not be automatic (i.e. there are a number of possible reasons for exemption). However, a non-Australian would have absolutely no a-priori right to such data. It would, in fact, be very difficult to justify posting the data on the web WITHOUT password protection.

    To put your mind at ease, here are descriptions of the contents of the password-protected files:

    "Amery data": preliminary (unpublished) data on the geometry of the Amery Ice Shelf, for use in our modelling of the cavity underneath the shelf.

    "Miscellaneous files": copies of preprints and reprints of papers, and of many presentations. Much of this is covered by copyright and could not legally be displayed on the web.

    "TASMARC files": images showing proposed sites of survey marks to be used in our study of shoreline movement around Tasmania. These were for viewing by a local Aboriginal Heritage Officer, in order to check if any sites could impact aboriginal relics (e.g. artifacts or remains). This was simply part of a confidential correspondence between myself and a State Government department. It would have been quite inappropriate to release the locations of proposed sites prior to getting full clearance. I am sure that, with your vast experience in the mining industry, you recognise and respect the sensitivity of such heritage issues.

    So ….. another storm in a teacup from climateaudit, a monument to disinformation.

    Steve: I’ve tried politely to get SO&P data and been refused. What’s confidential about tree ring data ? Why don’t you see if you can get access to the SO&P data and then get back to me?

  8. David H
    Posted Aug 1, 2005 at 4:05 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Argh! I just pressed the link above picture of the beaming guardian.

  9. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Aug 1, 2005 at 6:32 AM | Permalink | Reply

    It’s ironic that Houghton testified in July before a Senate Committee (see note from Roger Pielke at promotheus) but IPCC is wondering whether it should answer questions from a House Commitee.

  10. Ian Castles
    Posted Aug 1, 2005 at 2:59 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Re 8. Dr Rajendra Pachauri, Chairman of IPCC, testified before the Economic Affairs Committee of the UK House of Lords earlier this year, as did Sir John Houghton and Professor Nebojsa Nakicenovic, Coordinating Lead Author of the IPCC Special Report on Emissions Scenarios. Dr. Robert Watson, who was Chairman of the IPCC for some years until April 2002 (and who is still described as the Chair of the IPCC on the “World Bank Experts” page on the World Bank website) gave evidence before a Committee of the Australian Parliament in 2001.

  11. John Hunter
    Posted Aug 1, 2005 at 4:07 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Steve (response to #6): You ask “What’s confidential about tree ring data ?”. You should read what I said, which was “there are additional good reasons why such files should be confidential “¢’‚¬? for example, they may contain preliminary data …..”.

    Unlike you, I am not so arrogant that I think every scientist in the world is obliged to give me their preliminary data. I am also quite certain that the SO&P scientists have better things to do with their time than respond to your test “why don’t you see if you can get access to the SO&P data and then get back to me?”.

  12. Roger Bell
    Posted Aug 1, 2005 at 4:14 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Re post 9
    I’ve noted elsewhere that the Economic Affairs committee of the House of Lords was very critical of the IPCC report, believing that the science was poor. (See Neil Collins at http://www.telegraph.co.uk for the first of August.) The testimony of the IPCC luminaries clearly didn’t help their cause, especially with the emissions scenario exercise.

  13. Gerald Machnee
    Posted Aug 1, 2005 at 7:21 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Re: #10. John, why not answer the question? Go and try to access the SO&P data instead of coming up with non-answers. We have better things to do than read your dodging the question.

  14. per
    Posted Aug 1, 2005 at 8:41 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Perhaps John Hunter should read the piece at the top, which is about access to data files of already published work.

    In the meantime, it is fascinating to see how quickly he responds with all the jobsworth truisms; copyright; no "a priori" rights for non-Australians; government secrecy. Me, I think we have discovered the Australian version of the "X files". :)
    yours
    per

    Steve: Per, do you think that any of his excuses crack the Top Fifteen here or that any of them are worth adding to the list?

  15. John Hunter
    Posted Aug 1, 2005 at 9:44 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Gerald Machnee (#12): I took a look at the SO&P site. I see nothing unusual. Some links are protected by passwords, others are not. I’d make the following observations:

    1. The study is funded by the European Union. I myself have found that it is often not easy for scientists from non-EU contries (e.g. Australia) to participate directly in EU-funded projects. This is no surprise — it is entirely up to the funding agency. That being said, I can understand that SO&A would not make all their data (in whatever form) available to everyone.

    2. I guess the data on my own website is generally the property of the Australian Government. Non-Australians certainly have no rights whatsoever to that data. However, I often get requests from scientists for information that may be, say, in one of my presentations, in which case I willingly give them password access. This provision carry some conditions — for example that permission would be sought from me prior to showing any images at a presentation.

    3. However, if Steve asked me for password privileges to my site, I would most probably say “no” — he has no right to that data and I would strongly suspect that he would use it in a way that would be unhelpful to my work (I have never seen him show any desire for collaborative research with other climate scientists).

    4. If I wanted to access the SO&P data, I would have to give the SO&P scientists some reason why I wanted the data. I do not at present want the data for my own research (if I did, that would be a different matter). If I gave as my reason the fact that Steve McIntyre was using this as a test …… well what do you think their answer would be, or should be? For my own part, I am not prepared to waste these scientists’ time.

  16. John Hunter
    Posted Aug 2, 2005 at 7:04 AM | Permalink | Reply

    per (#13): I have two postings to this thread. The first (#6) refers exclusively to Steve McIntyre’s comments about my own web pages, which DO NOT contain "data files of already published work". The second (#10) refers to tree-ring data in general and gives one example of why such data may be restricted (i.e. that it "may contain preliminary data"). As regards the tree-ring data at SO&P, let’s look at the DENDRODB data base. Now, the link at the SO&P site appears to be old — the correct one is servpal.cerege.fr/webdbdendro/framedb.htm, which contains the following statement (unfortunately in rather broken English, but I think the sense is clear): "This database contain Tree-Ring data (Ring width and ring density values) but contain also in many case ecological information on tree site when living trees are concerned. That information on ecological features of sites is an originality in Dendro data base." — there is no reference to any publications and it sounds very much as if at least some of this data is unpublished.

    However, this is all pretty irrelevant. If the funding agency, the data owner and the publisher do not demand that data related to published work is made freely available, then there is no a-priori reason why it should be. You may whine as much as you like about the meaning of "science", but the fact remains that, unless there are specific rulings, authors have every right to keep their data to themselves. However, they do of course generally provide their data freely to bona-fide researchers, once they have published most of what they want from the data.

  17. Armand MacMurray
    Posted Aug 2, 2005 at 12:32 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Re: #14
    I’m a bit confused. If in most cases “…there is no a-priori reason …” to make data freely available, then why do authors “…of course generally provide their data…”?
    If the authors are providing their data, I would have thought they would have one or more reasons for doing so…

  18. John A
    Posted Aug 2, 2005 at 12:51 PM | Permalink | Reply

    John Hunter invites us to spot the significant word:

    However, they do of course generally provide their data freely to bona-fide researchers

  19. Paul Gosling
    Posted Aug 3, 2005 at 2:15 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Perhaps John Hunter was refering to bona-fide researhers as opposed to people who just want to see if they can get hold of the data as an excersise in itself, have no intention of doing anything with it if they get it, and will just whine on if they cannot. I think though Steve M started off as the former, he is beginning to look more and more like the latter.

  20. John A
    Posted Aug 3, 2005 at 2:40 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #17

    I think though Steve M started off as the former, he is beginning to look more and more like the latter.

    Paul,

    That’s entirely my point. If Steve McIntyre had been blocked because he wasn’t a recognised climate researcher, then we’d not have known about the reality of MBH98 in the way we do today.

    For John Hunter (or any climate researcher) to block access unless someone passes some mysterious criteria is to turn climate science into a mystery sect or union closed shop. It’s also clear to me that John Hunter hates the idea that of hostile review in science, especially where public policy decisions are being made. (His conversations with his PhD supervisor must have been a wonder to behold).

    We cannot afford to allow a political filter to access scientific data to be setup. For what its worth, John Hunter appears to be in a small minority with his stance on this.

  21. Ed Snack
    Posted Aug 3, 2005 at 3:03 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Paul, that is a pretty gratutitous insult, and quite unworthy.

    Steve has been attempting to gain access to MBH code and data for some time, and just in the last couple of weeks obtained some more code from Michael Mann. A preliminary release of his work through that code is already available (in two posts to this blog), with interesting results. If that code was used for MBH, it is clear that the r2 statistic was calculated, and not released. If that statistic implies that the results lack scientific validity, then that is something we would not have discovered otherwise, certainly not from the investigations of any of the “mainstream” climatologists.

    Politically that may be a bad result as far as you are concerned, but scientifically, for anyone who professes to believe in the validity of the scientific method as a way of obtaining hard data to base important decisions on, it must be welcomed.

  22. Paul Gosling
    Posted Aug 3, 2005 at 3:59 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Ed Re 19

    My field of research is soil science. If an economist or a historian asked to see data from something I had published along with all the associated calculations I would think this rather odd and want to know why. It would take me some time to find the data, especially if it was from some years ago, some might have been lost. If this person then began haranguing me because I was not being quick enough or everything was not in order and started to say in public that I was not co-operating, I was hiding something, I would probably get pretty annoyed and stop being co-operative. Now I realise this is not a direct analogy to the Steve M vs MM and I don’t know how those initial exchanges went, but I can see how the current situation might have arisen.

    My own feeling is that MBH was a sloppy piece of work and they know it (this is second hand knowledge as my stats are not up to making my own assessment). Steve M was central in exposing this and I guess has probably done more to tighten up on what is published on climate science than many journal editors and reviewers. However, one only needs to look at this site to see that what was once a genuine attempt to get access to data to assess a published piece of work has become an all encompassing trawl around climate science looking for data sets which have not been published. So we get threads arguing whether a data set from this proxy or that has been used in a published paper and needs to be archived or not, has at all been archived, has the full code been archived, has data which was never used but collected been published, does it need to be. If all this data, the associated data, all the source code for the calculations etc. etc. were published what are people going to do with it. Steve M seems a very dedicated and smart guy, but is he going to go through it all, reanalyse all the data from all the climate science published in the last 20 years and pronounce on whether is was of good quality or not?

    FYI I have no axe to grind in this debate, I do not and have never done any research on climate related science, am not and have never been a member of any environmental group, so politics has nothing to do with my statements.

    Steve You’re conflating a lot of history here. I originally just asked Mann where the FTP site of the data was. http://www.climate2003.com/file.issues.htm . Everything was very polite on my side. We noticed problems and published MM03. Mann then made a number of untrue statements about our asking for an Excel file, that the file to which we had been directed had been made for us (it was dated much earlier) and deleted the file at his URL site that we had used. A different directory set then emerged, which had never been mentioned before, but which Mann now pretended had been there all along. At that point, I was, shall we say, engaged. Mann said that we had made errors in implementing his methodology. I said that I had no interest in doing this and asked to see his source code to ensure that I did it right. All very politely and not playing to the crowd. The correspondence is here: http://www.climate2003.com/correspondence/mann.031111.htm

    Same with Crowley. I spent over a year trying to get data from him. I wasn’t playing to the crowd. Crowley slagged me in an article in EOS so I’ve posted up the entire correspondence.

    I’ve never harangued people because they weren’t quick enough. I’ve been very patient as any of my correspondence shows.

    One of the major arguments from the Hockey Team is that the other "independent" studies "get" the same answer. I focussed on MBH98 because it was the most prominent and has been so widely features. However, I’ve been conscious of the need to comment at some point on these other studies. By pushing at MBH98 and asking (always nicely) and then pushing some more and getting occasional reinforcements from people concerned about this, I’ve been able to get emough information to analyze it.

    I had also tried to get data from people like Crowley and Briffa, long before I had any notoriety. Some of these guys are much worse than Mann, and I’m sure that Mann feels sandbagged that people who have left no archival trail at all (e.g. Esper) seem to be getting a free pass. I find it very irritating that Briffa et al 2001 should be held out as "independent" seupport for MBH98, but the 387 sites used in this study have never been archived and that Briffa has refused to respond to any inquiries.

    I asked for some data from Lonnie Thompson before I even asked for data from Mann. It still isn’t archived.

    At a certain point, the archiving practices in paleoclimate became a story in itself. I never expected people to scrounge around for old data. My original correspondence with these people assumed that everything would be buttoned up on prominent studies. If you asked a company for a copy of its 1995 financial report, you’d get it instantly. I didn’t expect anyone to be doing stuff for ME. But since these guys don’t button up their studies and don’t archive their data, that has become a story in itself. But it doesn’t justify data being relied upon for big public policy not being available for full scrutiny – all the way from Jones’ temperature data set to Crowley’s proxy data. Climate scientists want it both ways: they want to influence policy and they want to play their data close to their vests, harboring it for possible future publications. You can’t have it both ways.

    Right now, it would be my intent to comment on the various Hockey Team multiproxy reconstructions. I do not believe that either Jones et al [1998] or Crowley and Lowery [2000] are valid and there are very disquieting aspects to both studies. I’m a pretty slow worker and I’ve had a lot of aftermarket work on drafting Replies to Comments on our MM05 articles, plus feeding the blog takes a lot of time.

    Finally, there is a considerable expectation that I should comment on the recent dump of MBH98 source code. I said that I wanted to see it. Now it’s there. What am I supposed to do? Ignore it?

  23. Hans Erren
    Posted Aug 3, 2005 at 5:09 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Come on Paul Consider the following two study:

    Grape ripening as past a climate indicator, I. Chuine1, P. YiouTsup, N. Viovy, B. Seguin, V. Daux and E. Le Roy Ladurie
    Nature, Vol. 432, 18 November 2004.

    I asked Dr Chuine for the data, she sent it to me and also filed it at WDCP
    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/pubs/chuine2004/chuine2004.html

    Compare this to:
    Jürg Luterbacher, Daniel Dietrich, Elena Xoplaki, Martin Grosjean and Heinz Wanner, European Seasonal and Annual Temperature Variability, Trends, and Extremes Since 1500, Science, Vol 303, Issue 5663, 1499-1503 , 5 March 2004

    I asked Dr Luterbacher for the data, he didn’t sent it to me and also didn’t file it at WDCP.

  24. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Aug 3, 2005 at 5:30 AM | Permalink | Reply

    re #20, some very good points Paul.

    Re #21, yes, and what are you trying to say Hans? That Luterbacher et. al. are ???? Well, you don’t say. Read what Paul said, the reason for their actions are probably there.

  25. Hans Erren
    Posted Aug 3, 2005 at 6:28 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Yes Peter,

    Chuine is the better scientist, she files her work properly.
    I’ve given up on Luterbacher, even MBH filed the numbers of their hockeystick graph, That’s what I asked him Luterbacher even failed this minimal operation. That’s the data I asked four times in the course of a year.

  26. Michael Jankowski
    Posted Aug 3, 2005 at 6:29 AM | Permalink | Reply

    When Dr. Mann has his students do calculations for homework, projects, or exams, does he just let them scribble whatever they want down as long as they have a final answer at the bottom of the page?

  27. Michael Jankowski
    Posted Aug 3, 2005 at 7:37 AM | Permalink | Reply

    (Re#24, I am probably somewhat unfairly singling Mann out…the question should be asked of ALL of these professors)

  28. Paul Gosling
    Posted Aug 3, 2005 at 8:09 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Steve M. Re your comments on 20.

    With several collaborators working on MBH98 I can easily see why different versions of data files were mixed up. I could also see how MM might have thought you asked for an Excel file, was it a written request or a phone call? I think the problem is that you and many others at this blog expect that scientists carefully archive their work as they go along so that it can easily be retrieved. This is the ideal situation, but why would I (or anyone else) be concerned about careful archiving of data which I am never going to use again and which I don’t expect anyone will ever want to see. I have better things to do with my time. When data gets to be older still, say ten years or more, even valuable data can be lost in office, computer, job changes.

    Though I don’t think your initial requests were unreasonable but when they get to the stage of

    “Can you advise us whether the directory MBH98 has been a subdirectory within the folder “pub” since July 30, 2002 or whether it was transferred from another (possibly private) directory at a date after July 30, 2002? If the latter, could you advise on the date of such transfer.”

    I can see people might get irritated.

    Maybe the initial files on MM FTP were old versions put there by mistake; if so you would expect him to change them wouldn’t you?

    As for trawling for unarchived data. Your thread about Thompson’s archiving of ice core information on the Puruogangri glacier is a classic example. The work has not been published in any peer review source so why would you expect him to publish the data?

    Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against you or your attempts to determine the validity of climate reconstructions. I don’t want to have to give up my car or overseas holidays for no reason any more than the next man, but aren’t you in danger of taking your eye off the ball and just irritating the climate community even more with this crusade for archiving of all data?

  29. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Aug 3, 2005 at 8:54 AM | Permalink | Reply

    re #26: Paul,

    Why don’t you go read the messages which went back and forth between M&M and Mann? Steve compiled them into a document which is available. It’s certainly linked from McIntyre’s site, which is linked from here. That should answer your Questions, or at least make them more to the point.

  30. Reid B
    Posted Aug 3, 2005 at 9:00 AM | Permalink | Reply

    #26 – “but aren’t you in danger of taking your eye off the ball and just irritating the climate community even more with this crusade for archiving of all data?”

    When the AGW community ends their crusade to restrict hydrocarbon fuels I’m certain the sceptic community will ease their “crusade” for scientific accurracy and truth. Most non-climate scientists would not involve themselves in climate science but the AGW community has forced the issue out of the academy and onto the eco-political battlefield. The battle has just begun. MBH-98 is just the tip of the iceberg of problems confronting AGW science. By the time Kyoto expires in 2012 the AGW community will be the butt of jokes about incompetence and silly theories. Go back to Earth Day 1970 and read what the consensus scientists were saying. You will bust out laughing at the “settled science” of 35 years ago. AGW and it’s spawn Kyoto are no different as time will tell.

  31. Hans Erren
    Posted Aug 3, 2005 at 9:04 AM | Permalink | Reply

    re 26:

    A summary of climate science:
    Hey I have these undisclosed data and this undisclosed method which suggests that the twentieth century is unprecedented, which is similar to somebody else’s undisclosed data and method.

    Yeah let’s build some international legislation on that.

  32. Paul Gosling
    Posted Aug 3, 2005 at 9:25 AM | Permalink | Reply

    RE 29

    I was under the impression that the theory of AGW was based on the increasing concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere and that it was around well before MBH98, but perhaps you know better.

    RE 28

    There is nothing wrong with a crusade for scientific accuracy and truth. As I said, if I have to give up my car and use the bus and can no longer go on overseas holidays I want it to be for a good reason. But where is the benefit of going after every climate scientist insisting that they publish every bit of data they have, source code etc. etc. even if no work has been published from it? Surely better to focus on what has been published rather than risking irritating every climate scientist and making what is already a rather antagonistic debate (shown splendidly by your post) even worse?

  33. Michael Jankowski
    Posted Aug 3, 2005 at 9:54 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I think the problem is that you and many others at this blog expect that scientists carefully archive their work as they go along so that it can easily be retrieved.

    Uhhh…yes, the scientists I knew/know do this very thing. It’s amazingly easy in the electronic age we’re in, too. Let’s not forget about the instances where not only do the people here at this blog expect for the work to be carefully archived, but the journal of publication and/or funding agency, too.

    This is the ideal situation, but why would I (or anyone else) be concerned about careful archiving of data which I am never going to use again and which I don’t expect anyone will ever want to see.

    How do you know you will never use it again? Didn’t MBH99 use a lot of data from MBH98, or are you suggesting MBH99 started from scratch? How do you know journal reviewers won’t care to see your data and/or expect further work to be done with it prior to publication? Is that how you really believe the scientific process works – something gets published, and that’s the end of it – move on? How do you know another researcher won’t request access to your data?

    It’s been over 6 yrs since I was involved in research. I still have all of my data electronically (much of it in hard-copy form) and all of my lab notebooks…and I would consider myself disorganized, especially compared to my peers at the time. But you’re suggesting people who make a name, living, and career out of their research have no reason to act in a similar manner?

    BTW, 3 yrs after I was done with graduate school, someone I had never met before or heard of asked me for information regarding my research. I faxed a copy of thesis excerpts and followed that up with an emailed PDF of the entire document (including all of the raw data contained in the appendices) the next day. I remember once asking my graduate advisor one time for data relevant to her research done decades earlier…provided to me the next day.

  34. Hans Erren
    Posted Aug 3, 2005 at 11:17 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #30

    I was under the impression that the theory of AGW was based on the increasing concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere and that it was around well before MBH98, but perhaps you know better.

    Well indeed, that’s why the reconstruction of temperature history is so important. If there were a clear temperature hockeystick matching with the observed CO2 hockeystick (which IMHO is a real hockeystick), then this yields a high value for climate sensitivity.

    If, however, OTOH, there is no temperature hockeystick, then the effect of CO2 on temperature is also much smaller.

  35. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Aug 3, 2005 at 12:16 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #32. Surely not Hans? The change due to anthropogenic fossil fuel CO2 (and other anthropogenic changes) is clearly in the period of instrumental observations, the blade of the HS. Whether the proxy part of the HS be right or wrong doesn’t alter that. Steve’s not aiming at the instrument data, it’s the proxies, the blade of the HS, that he’s gunning for. Humm, or is he going to, singlehandedly, try to re write the proxies and the instrumental record? Golly jeepers, perhaps he is!

    Otoh, if the period before instrumental measurement, and major human interference, saw as little variation, as the HS suggest, then natural climate variability is low, but…showing that the HS is wrong (not done yet) might infact show that climate variability is higher than we think and that, thus, the climate system is perhaps more sensitive to changes like a 30% increase in CO2 plus a slug of other ghg’s land use changes and the rest. Not, I think, what most people here have in mind as an goal…

    Or, are you saying you think climate varied less than the HS suggests? Or that it was, overall, warmer and thus now isn’t so relatively warm? But you think there was a LIA, right?

  36. Armand MacMurray
    Posted Aug 3, 2005 at 12:18 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Re: #26
    Paul,

    You said “I think the problem is that you and many others at this blog expect that scientists carefully archive their work as they go along so that it can easily be retrieved.”
    You’re building a bit of a straw man here. It’s the data behind work *that is published* that should be available for examination. Scientists in many other fields don’t have a problem with this (I noted the various genome projects as examples earlier), so why should climate scientists have a special exemption?

    You also ask “… why would I (or anyone else) be concerned about careful archiving of data which I am never going to use again and which I don’t expect anyone will ever want to see.”
    You may be right for data which is not published or used to support published results. Clearly, if you don’t expect anyone ever to want to see some data, it is not worthy of publication. However, the very act of publication implies that someone *will be* interested in the results, and thus in the data behind the results, and therefore creates an obligation on the author’s part to archive the relevant info.

    Finally, you ask “… but aren’t you in danger of taking your eye off the ball and just irritating the climate community even more with this crusade for archiving of all data?”
    Again, scientists in many other fields archive their data as a matter of course; why should climate data be treated with any less respect?

  37. Michael Jankowski
    Posted Aug 3, 2005 at 1:35 PM | Permalink | Reply

    showing that the HS is wrong (not done yet) might infact show that climate variability is higher than we think and that, thus, the climate system is perhaps more sensitive to changes like a 30% increase in CO2 plus a slug of other ghg’s land use changes and the rest

    Showing that the HS is wrong would show that so-called “natural” climate variability is higher than is currently attributed. This would lead credence to the idea that even more of the 20th century warming was natural than has been proposed (and, as Hans suggests, that CO2 has less of an influence than is currently proposed).

    Yes, you can say that there’s an extremely remote possibility that natural climate variability tried to cool us in the 20th century and that CO2, etc, has more of an influence than we think and more than compensated for that cooling. Thus, once natural climate variability swings back into a warming mode, then we’ll really get hot with those two acting together intstead of counter-acting each other. But talk about leaping from one end of the spectrum to the other, Peter!

    Regardless, I still maintain that the spatial lack of coverage and the lack of proxy precision and accuracy renders estimates of average global temps of hundreds to thousands of years ago to nothing more than educated guesses with error ranges much higher than the multiples of standard data deviations presented in the publications. The NCDC site is working again…take a look at the proxies used by Mann and Jones (2003) http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/pubs/mann2003b/mann2003b.html . Even if you could accept the proxies to correlate well and precisely with temperature, do you really think you could take these few locations and estimate the average global temperature of 2000 yrs ago within plus or minus 0.3 deg C (which, as described in the caption under Fig 1, is only twice the standard error)?

  38. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Aug 3, 2005 at 5:43 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Maybe getting climate scientists to archive their data (as they are obligated to do) will be as useful as grinding away at multiproxy studies. I think that it is essential, that there’s no excuse for not doing it. If it grates on climate scientists, let the chips fall where they may. Good scientists who already do it, will probably be glad that someone’s taken the initiative. Cheers, Steve

  39. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Aug 3, 2005 at 5:55 PM | Permalink | Reply

    John Hunter sent in the following post which was caught up in the Spam screening. I don’t normally canvass the Spam – it’s too much work, but this was at the top of the report rather than in the middle or the bottom and I happened to notice it. Hunter has a habit of re-posting identical posts if one is rejected. Oddly enough, the Spam software interprets this behaviour as spam and blocks the IP address. I’m having trouble deciding why the software isn’t correct. In any event, I am NOT goig to check through spam logs. But in this one case (And without setting a precedent), I am posting Hunter’s comment for him:

    “Gerald Machnee (#12): I took a look at the SO&P site. I see nothing unusual. Some links are protected by passwords, others are not. I’d make the following observations:

    1. The study is funded by the European Union. I myself have found that it is often not easy for scientists from non-EU contries (e.g. Australia) to participate directly in EU-funded projects. This is no surprise — it is entirely up to the funding agency. That being said, I can understand that SO&A would not make all their data (in whatever form) available to everyone.

    2. I guess the data on my own website is generally the property of the Australian Government. Non-Australians certainly have no rights whatsoever to that data. However, I often get requests from scientists for information that may be, say, in one of my presentations, in which case I willingly give them password access. This provision carry some conditions — for example that permission would be sought from me prior to showing any images at a presentation.

    3. However, if Steve asked me for password privileges to my site, I would most probably say “no” — he has no right to that data and I would strongly suspect that he would use it in a way that would be unhelpful to my work (I have never seen him show any desire for collaborative research with other climate scientists).

    4. If I wanted to access the SO&P data, I would have to give the SO&P scientists some reason why I wanted the data. I do not at present want the data for my own research (if I did, that would be a different matter). If I gave as my reason the fact that Steve McIntyre was using this as a test …… well what do you think their answer would be, or should be? For my own part, I am not prepared to waste these scientists’ time.”

  40. Paul Gosling
    Posted Aug 4, 2005 at 1:52 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Clearly there are different standards of data archiving in different scientific fields. Though I am required to archive samples and raw data by my funding body there is no time specified for which I must do this. The code of conduct concerned has only been in place for 2 years, before that there was no formal requirement to archive data. I could probably lay my hands on most of the raw data that has been used in published work in the last 10 years. Though if you want to go back 10 years, the electronic form of the data would be on some type of DOS program on floppy disks which have probably degraded. So sending it to you would be annoying and time consuming. No journal I have ever published in has made any specific requirement about archiving data apparent to me. The world has changed and data archiving and audit trails are important (We could not now get funding without adequate procedures). However, I remember studying paleoclimatolgy 15 years ago at University. It was an obscure branch of science, there were about 5 people in the class and AGW was hardly mentioned. I am not at all surprised that data collected then was not always carefully archived, remember it is not just the data which has been requested on this blog, but exact sample collection locations, dates etc. The situation is different now and I would also be suspicious of someone who could not provide a comprehensive audit trail for data collected in the last 5 years. But 15 or 20 years ago, it was a different world then.

    Steve: There have been U.S. federal policies mandating archiving of NSF funded work for almost 15 years. If NSF enforced their policies, that would make a big difference. I’ll get away from the negativism as someone else commented: I’m not really “trawling”. The only people that I have any intention of looking at re compliance are Hockey Team members: MBH, Briffa, Jones, Jacoby, Cook and Thompson and the reasons for these are all both obvious and consistent with what I’m doing. Surely it’s at least ironic that Hockey Team advocates of public intervention and public policy are not compliant with NSF data archiving requirements (and that NSF is co-opted in the non-compliance).

  41. Ed Snack
    Posted Aug 4, 2005 at 4:57 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Paul, I think this arguement for archival data can go too far, and I take the point that you appear to be making. However would it not be fair to say that if you came up with an important and far reaching result in a paper, you would almost certainly make sure that your data and methods were retained so you could verify the result. Important data is very likely to be challenged, and you would need the data etc to support your position.

    For minor work, important maybe in its own way, but not particularly earthshaking you might well have a different attitude. However if such a result became important later, and your original data and code (say) were not available, and a new paper contradicts or challenges your conclusions, then you are not in a strong position to support you own conclusions, are you ?

    If on request you made an honest attempt to salvage what you could, I suggest you would not be faulted for the lack of retention unless you had ignored requirements for retention. However you are still in the position where your original conclusions cannot be given as much weight as you might like. An example here is the Gaspe Cedar data. The data used is a subset of a larger data set, however the full data set is no longer available. There are credible reasons for believing that the extant data is not a representative subset of the original data, and hence is not reliable for continued use. Therefore I contend the value of that data is degraded, and it should be excluded from climate reconstructions. If sufficient data had been archived, tests could be made to substantiate or disprove the selectivity hypothesis. The solution now is to repeat the data gathering process and find new verifiable data which could be used.

    I suggest that any experimental scientist, from almost any field, could point to examples where non-random selection of data (or biased selection) has led to incorrect conclusions.

  42. Doug L
    Posted Aug 5, 2005 at 3:31 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Re: #35

    Michael Jankowski states (this is tangential to the thread):

    “Yes, you can say that there’s an extremely remote possibility that natural climate variability tried to cool us in the 20th century and that CO2, etc”

    It may be of interest that RealClimate says that this “remote possibility” is actually the case.
    They say in their recent response (June 22) to the WSJ editorial

    “Secondly, the argument that the climate should have naturally “rebounded” with warming during the 20th century defies the actual peer-reviewed scientific studies which, as discussed earlier, suggest that the climate should have actually cooled during the 20th century, not warmed, if natural factors were primarily at play. Anthropogenic greenhouse gases are required to explain the observed warming”

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=167

    I point this out because it seems like it’s being kept relatively quiet.
    Perhaps this is a development since the TAR?

  43. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Aug 5, 2005 at 3:59 PM | Permalink | Reply

    The idea that natural variability is an offset to AGW has been around for at least 15 years. In Crowley and North [1991], they had already noticed that global warming was less than projected by climate modelers (Hansen et al, 1984; Schlesinger et al 1986) and that this would imply “climate sensitivity” much less than the models. They argued that this was because of natural variability, having a significant negative impact.

    This ties in to two battleground issues: solar impact – if solar irradiance is highly positive, as implied by either Solanki or Muscheler versions, not only does this undermine the negative variability, but it reduces the empirical climate sensitivity. The other battleground issue is satellite versus surface – there’s a knock-on issue that’s as important as the effect itself: if you apply satellite temperature changes since 1980 (either version), then there’s even less sensitivity available to CO2 after you allow for solar impacts, which either hits the tuning of models directly or calls into question the parameterizations in the GCMs.

  44. Michael Jankowski
    Posted Aug 8, 2005 at 7:42 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I point this out because it seems like it’s being kept relatively quiet.
    Perhaps this is a development since the TAR?

    It’s covered in the TAR, see here http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/450.htm#fig127 .

    Of course, you have to believe the models and the assumptions therein are correct. If you assume that anthropogenic effects are minimal and that GHG emissions are to blame, then you program accordingly…and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  45. Michael Jankowski
    Posted Aug 8, 2005 at 8:31 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re#42-

    that anthropogenic NATURAL effects are minimal

  46. TCO
    Posted Sep 21, 2005 at 12:37 PM | Permalink | Reply

    IF the work is completely in progress, (no graphics shown, no preliminary reports done), that might be a reasonable reason to password protect. Of course, given the scope and the public funding, I think arrangements should be made for some public sharing.

    Culture thing: this tendancy for secretiveness is probably more of a Euro thing. You know: Herr Doktor Professor up on his lofty perch.

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