realclimate has posted up a discussion of a recent Brief Communications Arising in Nature by Muscheler et al., commenting on Solanki et al. . They haven’t posted up the Solanki et al. reply, which argues that Muschelerr et al. have screwed up their normalization. However here it is . There are two points of interest to this: one substantive and one bitchy.
I’ve not looked at C14 and Be10 before, but it looks interesting and I’ll try to make some time to look at it. The C14 data comes from tree rings; there are some interesting aspects to C13/C12 fractionation in tree rings that I’ve read about in connection with CO2 fertilization and water use efficiency. I presume that the C14/C12 fractionation would be similar and even more so. Whether it affects anything in these calculaitons would take some time to find out.
Solanki et al. argued that solar activity is anomalously high in the late 20th century, although they disclaim the idea that high solar activity could have caused climate change. Muscheler et al. , based on different C14 calculations, argue that solar irradiance was as high ~1150 and ~1600. I am unfamiliar with these calculations and have no views on who is right. A connection that intrigues me: remember that IPCC  was unable to apportion the current warming between anthropogenic and natural variation, because it believed that there had been equal changes in the past as in the last century without AGW impact. IPCC  overturned this position, relying heavily on Wigley and Kelly , who stated that there had not been equivalent changes in the past 10,000 years. Wigley and Kelly  relied on C14 levels, which were relatively new then. If there are substantive differences between Muscheler et al. on the one hand and Solanki et al on the other, I wonder if they can be both reconciled with the Wigley and Kelly  position relied upon by IPCC  and whether that argument, already weakly argued in Wigley and Kelly , has any remaining legs.
Now for a purely personal bitch. Muscheler et al. is classified by Nature as a "Brief Communications Arising" and is about 1525 words with two figures. Our submission last year was also treated as a "Brief Communications Arising". After we got positive reviews in our first submission (undoubtedly to Nature’s consternation) and a revise-and-resubmit, we were told to shorten to 800 words as follows:
26th Mar 2004
Dear Mr McIntyre
Thank you for your revised manuscript entitled "Global-scale temperature patterns and climate forcings over the past six centuries: A comment" that is under consideration for our Brief Communications Arising section.
Before we can proceed further, I am afraid that it will be necessary for you to shorten your manuscript substantially, in accordance with our author guidelines on http://www.nature.com/nature/submit/gta/index.html#8. You will have seen that submissions to this section of the journal have a strict length limit (up to 800 words, with one multipanelled figure and no more than 15 references), although you are welcome to include supplementary material for reviewing purposes only.
We shall of course impose the same length limits on Mann et al. when we ask them to revise their reply in response to your revised manuscript and the referees’ comments….
We hope to see your revised manuscript within two weeks; please let us know if the delay is likely to be longer.
Editor, Brief Communications
It was hard to condense our position to 800 words and we had to take out a lot. Then, in August 2004, we were told that our article could not be condensed into 500 words/1 figure. The referee comments also mentioned word length, so it sure looks like Nature specifically put the referees on notice that word length was an issue to be taken into consideration in reviewing the article. Our GRL article was not simply a "re-submission" of our Nature article as has been misrepresented by Bradley and others The simulations showing the generation of the hockey stick from random data were re-done using more persistent red noise and much more dramatic similarities; we quantified the tendency to yield hockey sticks (through one-sigma and 1.5-sigma hockeysticks) and had an entirely new argument on spurious RE statistics. The GRL article is better than our Nature submissions, in part because it deals with responses and arguments raised by Mann et al. in our correspondence (e.g. the RE statistic.) Here’s the Nature rejection notice, mentionoing 500 words:
Sent: Tuesday, August 03, 2004 11:11 AM
Subject: Decision on 2004-01-14277B
Dear Mr McIntyre
Thank you for your revised comment on the contribution by Mann et al., which
I am afraid we must decline to publish. As is our policy on these occasions,
we showed your revised comment to the earlier authors, and their response is
enclosed. We also sent the exchange to 3 referees, whose comments are
In the light of this detailed advice, we have regretfully decided that
publication of this debate in our Brief Communications Arising section is
not justified. This is principally because the discussion cannot be
condensed into our 500-word/1 figure format (as you probably realise,
supplementary information is only for review purposes because Brief
Communications Arising are published online) and relies on technicalities
that do not bring a clear resolution of the underlying issues.
Editor, Brief Communications
I suppose that the word limit could be construed as them just being polite, but they reject hundreds of articles a year and, unless this is a standard formula, you’d have to take them at face value and assume that word length actually was a consideration. So it’s irritating to see Muscheler et al. being given 1500+ words and 2 figures.