PR Challenge: the Briffa-Cook “White Paper”

The Trieste PR Challenge conference has an interesting “White paper on tree rings submitted by Keith Briffa and Ed Cook, entitled “What are the Sources of Uncertainty in the Tree-Ring Data: How can They be Quantified and Represented?

Good questions. I urge readers to read this candid paper in full. I detect a lot of Cook’s influence in this paper – among the senior authors in this field, I find myself placing considerably more weight on Cook’s articles, which are usually pretty thoughtful.

Among their observations:

Low-frequency tree-ring variance [centuries to millennia] is virtually unresolved in all but a few chronologies worldwide. In many multi-century-length series it is undefined or random!

Curve fitting methods suffer from ‘segment length curse’. They can also suffer from “end-effect bias” when recent growth forcing signal is increasing (Melvin and Briffa paper in press). Some methods for processing tree-ring data (Regional Curve Standardisation and Age-Band Decomposition) do preserve more medium and long-timescale evidence of growth forcing changes, but they very prone to bias associated with non-homogenous samples and potential end-effect bias (Briffa and Melvin paper in press).

I like this one:

A fundamental problem is that tree-ring data from a site/region can produce very different chronologies according to specific sampling and processing – this is confusing for secondary users and other non-dendroclimatologists.

Here’s a point about Hansen and similar adjustments, originally raised in connection with the adjustments to the Dawson series used in tree ring calibration – which was actually a departure point for some of my interest in surface station records:

The way in which the climate data [i.e. station temperatures] have been pre-processed (i.e, homogenized) is also an issue that can profoundly affect interpretations of tree-ring data. This makes it doubly hard to identify and assess the signal(s) in the tree rings because it all may not be the tree rings fault!

Now for a real dagger:

There exists very large potential for over-calibration in multiple regressions and in spatial reconstructions, due to numerous chronology predictors (lag variables or networks of chronologies – even when using PC regression techniques). Frequently, the much vaunted ‘verification’ of tree-ring regression equations is of limited rigour, and tells us virtually nothing about the validity of long-timescale climate estimates or those that represent extrapolations beyond the range of calibrated variability.

Using smoothed data from multiple source regions, it is all too easy to calibrate large scale (NH) temperature trends, perhaps by chance alone.

Other comments:

Many chronologies need updating, but existing data sets need additional sampling (especially in ‘proven’ areas) to improve replication and allow improved standardisation methods to be used and enable longer calibration/verification and to explore responses of tree growth to recent climate trends in many areas of the world (i.e. just as stressed by IPCC AR4 Chapter 6).

The ITRDB is a great resource. It needs to be continually improved to allow easy storage of other than “usual” tree-ring width data. Improved meta data should be sought for all submissions, including tree dimensions and architecture and information on context of measurements (routinely including estimates of missing rings to pith). When standardised indices are archived, precise details of standardisation options should always accompany them.

An issue not mentioned at CA but for which I have complete sympathy:

Major crisis looming here are the physical samples. We are loosing the trees. Steady can tell you about his efforts in SE-Asia. In NZ, we have 40,000 year old ancient kauri being mined. I reckon it will be exhausted within 10 years. The holocene sites in 5 years. Saw-millers are already starting to buy farms so that they can secure some future supply. We have set-up an archive at a local museum for biscuits of kauri for future research programs. In other words I have adopted a fire-fighting approach – save as many samples as I can and hope there might be funding to work on them later. Steady has funded me over the last 5 years to collect silver pine (Halocarpus biformis) from the West Cost. We have multi-millennial chronos thanks to that investment – but some sources have been completely destroyed by the land being converted to dairy pastures. The other area is now a kiwi habitat sanctuary so the permit process for further sampling has become much harder. So, data archiving is vital, but I’m first trying to save samples!

Another issue that Pete and I ran into with Graybill in terms of poor archiving of samples, an issue that is under the control of the dendro community and all the more critical if the forests themselves are being lost through reasons out of the control of the dendros:

as old dendrochronologists whither away, their sample collections often disappear with them!

All in all, the Briffa-Cook White Paper reads a bit like a manifesto from Climate Audit. I wonder whether they even intended that this paper circulate to the public – it’s presently online only at the conference center facilities rather than at any of the author’s websites and I wonder whether they realized this.

I’m not even sure what, if anything, I disagree with in this paper. It’s hard to reconcile Briffa’s comments to a private community with his comments to the public in his capacity as the author of the corresponding section of AR4. I guess the problem that they have with Climate Audit is not so much with anything that we say, but that it’s said in public.


58 Comments

  1. Gerry Morrow
    Posted Jul 11, 2008 at 9:04 AM | Permalink

    I wonder if this is the first inclings of a repositioning on former certainties? Wegman said, and I paraphrase, that the Mann et al had put themselves in a position where it would be very difficult to back away from their certainties because, I guess, they had sold them to the politicians.

    snip -policy

  2. Philip_B
    Posted Jul 11, 2008 at 9:17 AM | Permalink

    It’s somewhat ironic that the conversion of forest to pasture in New Zealand referred to, is being driven by tax and carbon credit considerations resulting from Kyoto.

    The Wairarapa Farm Forestry Association says 10,000ha of planted forest across the country has been converted to pasture in the period between 2002 and 2004 alone.

    http://www.times-age.co.nz/localnews/storydisplay.cfm?thesection=localnews&storyid=3650130

  3. MrPete
    Posted Jul 11, 2008 at 9:32 AM | Permalink

    This paper IS pretty good. A breath of fresh air. I don’t care who gets the credit. It’s simply good to see some honest inside questioning going on. I think there may be even more “uncertainties” to be uncovered…

    My current favorite, perhaps an interesting grad student project: the white paper doesn’t address “non-climate” forcing. We’ve observed what can only be described as a growth “pulse”, apparently due to physical impact on the tree — a tearing away of bark — that apparently causes the living tree that remains to exert every effort to recover.

    If physical impacts cause extra growth, and if samples are selected from the living part of partially-dead trees that have suffered damage in the not-too-distant past, then it seems reasonable that these criteria may actually be selecting data that will show current growth pulses. I.e., a hockey-stick selection methodology. Not done on purpose. Just an accident of methodology.

    Their call for more samples from more (and younger) trees will be a great help in identifying this and other issues.

  4. Posted Jul 11, 2008 at 9:36 AM | Permalink

    A related paper that might be of interest is
    How to account for and guarantee the quality of dendrochronological results“, Fornvännen: Journal of Swedish Antiquarian Research (2007).
    The author, Torbjörn Axelson, is an amateur dendrochronologist in Sweden.

  5. Craig Loehle
    Posted Jul 11, 2008 at 10:00 AM | Permalink

    I would like to applaud Cook and Briffa. I would agree with virtually all of their points. Some of them cut pretty deep and will not be easily fixed.

  6. Basil
    Posted Jul 11, 2008 at 10:26 AM | Permalink

    I assume this is the same Ed Cook who was the senior author of A New Assessment of Possible Solar and Lunar Forcing of the Bidecadal Drought Rhythm in the Western United States. From what I’ve read, he’s much more cautious in his conclusions, doesn’t seem to have an agenda to push, and is open to the notion that natural climate variability is something to take seriously. So anything he can do to improve the state of the debate over dendrochronology is welcome.

  7. Allen
    Posted Jul 11, 2008 at 10:34 AM | Permalink

    I agree with Gerry. If wrong about AGW to date, the scientists involved in the PR challenge may now have a way to modify their position, if necessary, without dire impact on reputation. Certainly I would feel that way were I in their places.

    If the PR project proceeds in an impartial and publicly open manner and verifies AGW (to some degree) to the satisfaction of impartial skeptics (there will always be immovable skeptics) — then fine too.

    The paper reads as reasonable and impartial. It makes some points that seemed evident to me as I studied “climate change” over the last month and did some calculations of my own — but, being a newbie to the subject, I had no way to know if I was missing something.

  8. ToSH
    Posted Jul 11, 2008 at 11:40 AM | Permalink

    First line; Cook mis-spelled ‘Cookk’.

  9. Sam Urbinto
    Posted Jul 11, 2008 at 11:41 AM | Permalink

    So this isn’t PR so much as CYA. :)

  10. SteveSadlov
    Posted Jul 11, 2008 at 11:46 AM | Permalink

    So where are the apologies and retractions from The Team? Oh, that’s right, they’ve moved on.

  11. Posted Jul 11, 2008 at 11:47 AM | Permalink

    a tearing away of bark — that apparently causes the living tree that remains to exert every effort to recover.

    Well my first question re tree rings is one of rainfall is there a way to factor that out or has it been factored out.
    When I was a young pup before AGW was talked of a farmer told me the distance between rings was based on rainfall,
    the wetter the years the further apart the rings though I suppose too, too much might not be good either.

  12. MrPete
    Posted Jul 11, 2008 at 12:44 PM | Permalink

    Dinosaur… well yes, there are plenty of climate-related challenges as well. One is precipitation, which is normally claimed to be factored out by only sampling trees that are temp-limited rather than precip-limited (I’m not yet convinced). Even harder, and also discussed at length here on CA: tree/plant growth can seriously decrease when the temperatures are hot. It is generally assumed this is not the case. And, it is impossible to distinguish past hot-seasons from past cool-seasons (unless so cold there is frost damage.)

    All in all, a challenging source of paleoclimate data!

    Which is why it is VERY good to see this kind of reflection.

  13. Tony Edwards
    Posted Jul 11, 2008 at 12:59 PM | Permalink

    After a quick read of this white paper, I have to ask, how did you get your version into their hands, Steve?

    sarc/off

    I agree with the rest, this is an amazing volte face following on from some of the previous shenanigans.

  14. jae
    Posted Jul 11, 2008 at 1:04 PM | Permalink

    Dino:

    When I was a young pup before AGW was talked of a farmer told me the distance between rings was based on rainfall,

    Yes, it is VERY well-established (and every farmer knows it first-hand) that in temperate regions, moisture is usually the most important factor limiting plant growth. So it is a real challenge to separate out this factor from others. Tree rings have been used extensively and very successfully in studying droughts of the past. I’m very skeptical about separating out the putative effects of temperature…

  15. Carl Gullans
    Posted Jul 11, 2008 at 1:44 PM | Permalink

    I’m unable to open the paper… “file cannot be found”. Is anybody else having this problem now?

  16. bernie
    Posted Jul 11, 2008 at 1:48 PM | Permalink

    Carl:
    Save the pdf file to your desktop and then you should be able to open it.

  17. jnicklin
    Posted Jul 11, 2008 at 2:29 PM | Permalink

    So, given all of this information in the white paper, how does Briffa still assert certainty in the IPCC setting? Surely he can’t do it with a straight face.

  18. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jul 11, 2008 at 2:58 PM | Permalink

    Some of you have praised Briffa’s candour in this presentation intended for an invitation-only audience; it’s by no means clear that he realized that it might see the light of day. What I find very disquieting about this paper is the almost total hypocrisy of Briffa’s private stance as compared to his public stance in IPCC AR$ and his public statements. BEhind closed doors, he says:

    Frequently, the much vaunted ‘verification’ of tree-ring regression equations is of limited rigour, and tells us virtually nothing about the validity of long-timescale climate estimates or those that represent extrapolations beyond the range of calibrated variability. … Using smoothed data from multiple source regions, it is all too easy to calibrate large scale (NH) temperature trends, perhaps by chance alone.

    That sounds almost exactly like something we could have written. In fact, it sounds like things we did write. For example MM GRL 2005 discussed spurious verification and stated that the “Vaunted” MBH verification was, using Briffa’s terms, of “limited rigour”. We said:

    More generally, this example shows that changes in methodology will generally require new Monte Carlo modeling, that benchmarks carried forward from one methodology cannot necessarily be applied to a new methodology – even if the method changes may appear slight, and that great caution is required prior to concluding statistical significance based on RE statistics.

    An obvious guard against spurious RE significance is to examine other cross-validation statistics, such as the R2 and CE statistics, as recommended, for example, by Cook et al. [1994]. While there are limitations to the R2 statistic, the analysis of statistical ‘‘skill’ of Murphy [1988] presupposes that the R2 statistic exceeds the skill statistic and cases where the RE statistic exceeds the R2 statistic are of particular concern [Cook et al., 1994]. In the case of MBH98, unfortunately, neither the R2 and other cross-validation statistics nor the underlying construction step have ever been reported for the controversial 15th century period. Our calculations have indicated that they are statistically insignificant

    Did Briffa ever speak up and say that maybe we had a point? Nope. Quite the opposite. Did he mention this in his discussion of MM in IPCC AR4? Nope.

    Actually, AR4 makes almost the opposite claim about tree ring calibration-verification:

    As with all biological proxies, the calibration of tree ring records using linear regression against some specific climate variable represents a simplification of what is inevitably a more complex and possibly time-varying relationship between climate and tree growth. That this is a defensible simplification, however, is shown by the general strength of many such calibrated relationships, and their significant verification using independent instrumental data.

    Excuse me – where’s the admission that the “vaunted” verification is of “limited rigour”?

    Also, in passing, Briffa made the following jibe against Lamb:

    Lamb’s analyses also predate any formal statistical calibration of much of the evidence he considered. Box 6.4.

    If this “formal statistical calibration” is of “limited rigour”, a point of view I share, then what is the justification for this jibe?

  19. daveb
    Posted Jul 11, 2008 at 2:59 PM | Permalink

    This link should take you directly to the paper.

  20. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jul 11, 2008 at 3:04 PM | Permalink

    Look at Briffa’s reply to Second Order Draft Comment 6-735 (Ross McKitick) where Ross forcefully objects to IPCC’s misrepresentation of the verification situation. Now here Briffa is admitting the point. What a fiasco.

  21. M.Villeger
    Posted Jul 11, 2008 at 3:04 PM | Permalink

    I agree with post #1 and second post #10: There has been so much bad faith displayed by these scientists that these people should have the honesty and courage to come clean. Merely acknowledging the problem of their previous works through the back door doesn’t cut it. Let me be clear: we are not talking about public humiliation here, just a frank statement of apologies towards those who first pointed out the problems and to those who have been affected by the use of their results. Then only, we could all consider it is appropriate to move on, on both sides of the issue. I recall a very thorough geologist who published a new, bold interpretation on some region of Greece just to find a year later with additional field work and the help of some new quarries and outcrops that he had been mistaken: he made sure he published a thorough critic of his own work and exposed the new data. That is the kind of ethical behaviour we should be expecting from these scientists.

  22. daveb
    Posted Jul 11, 2008 at 3:05 PM | Permalink

    sorry link failed, try again, copy and paste should work:

    http://users.ictp.it/~smr1972/Briffa_Cook.pdf

  23. Jeff A
    Posted Jul 11, 2008 at 3:25 PM | Permalink

    Did they really say “we are loosing the trees…”??

  24. kim
    Posted Jul 11, 2008 at 3:26 PM | Permalink

    Well, what is it they say about imitation being the highest compliment?
    =========================================

  25. Dishman
    Posted Jul 11, 2008 at 3:44 PM | Permalink

    It seems to me like those NOAA and CRU editor e-mails are all the more important.

    My understanding of the process, as someone who has not yet been all the way through it:
    If a FOIA is denied, you do have an option of filing a suit, with the agency paying if it loses. By my read, it’s best for a US resident to do it, as you can do it at the nearest district court or in DC. Non-residents must file in DC.

  26. DocMartyn
    Posted Jul 11, 2008 at 3:51 PM | Permalink

    Steve, how are your tree rings coming along? Are you getting them ready for the public eye?

    Steve: I put the data online immediately -so the data has always been public. The lab didn’t crossdate some of the cores and I don’t understand why. I’ve meaning to close that circle and need to get at.

  27. Posted Jul 11, 2008 at 4:17 PM | Permalink

    25 dishman

    Why involve lawyers? People are reading CA whether they admit it or not and people like Cook, Solimina and Tsonis etc. have valid concerns within the community. Things are changing because they have to.

  28. bender
    Posted Jul 11, 2008 at 4:51 PM | Permalink

    I guess the problem that they have with Climate Audit is not so much with anything that we say, but that it’s said in public.

    Exactly. The science is “self-correcting”. Outsiders need not enter.

  29. Dishman
    Posted Jul 11, 2008 at 5:26 PM | Permalink

    captdallas2 wrote:

    Why involve lawyers? People are reading CA whether they admit it or not and people like Cook, Solimina and Tsonis etc. have valid concerns within the community. Things are changing because they have to.

    Some parties have been stonewalling. That tactic only makes sense if the risk of doing so is lower than the risk of openness. Should it become clear that the tactic will fail, that can significantly alter the calculation. I believe that what we’re talking about is a few honest mistakes and some bad behavior to conceal those mistakes.

    It heartens me that the community is changing. Hopefully it will be fast enough to achieve reasonable clarity before the politicians do something stupid like burning our food supply.

    Mostly, though, I brought that up as a possible solution to a specific problem with getting information out of NOAA.

  30. Posted Jul 11, 2008 at 5:40 PM | Permalink

    Dishman 29

    Exactly! Sooner or later the truth will prevail. It would have been nice to be sooner, but WTF. There are glaring errors on both sides of the debate. The time to chill and use defensible science has arrived.

  31. Pompous Git
    Posted Jul 11, 2008 at 6:07 PM | Permalink

    JeffA @ #23

    It looks like Jonathan Palmer, not Cook & Briffa’s error.

    … let loose the logs of yore that this foul deed shall smell above the earth with carrion men, groaning for burial.

  32. Cobb
    Posted Jul 11, 2008 at 6:23 PM | Permalink

    Why not involve lawyers? The climate change scientific literature manufactured within this country, and 120% embraced by the IPCC, is the driving force of REAL policies effecting REAL people. When people feel the pressure into aborting children so as not to increase their carbon footprint:

    http://boards.msn.com/MSNBCboards/thread.aspx?threadid=706869&boardsparam=Page%3D10

    you would think the extreme religion-like craze of AGW would need extreme opposition. The science has holes in it, it is time to air out the dirty laundry.

    This crap wouldn’t fly in my undergraduate Chem Eng classes, but it is good enough to influence world policy?

  33. e.o.
    Posted Jul 11, 2008 at 6:28 PM | Permalink

    What is wrong with a different public and private statement ? As AGW is a well settled science there shold be no problem. Roeger Pielke Jr. in his blog has a good review of the IPCC chair public endorsement of the Indian Climate Change Action Plan.

  34. Pompous Git
    Posted Jul 11, 2008 at 6:47 PM | Permalink

    “What is wrong with a different public and private statement ?”

    Er… only one of the statements can be true. For example:

    Public: There’s gold in them there hills so you should invest in our company.

    Private: There’s no gold in them there hills, but if everyone believes there is, we stand to make lotsa loot out of those suckers.

  35. Posted Jul 11, 2008 at 7:24 PM | Permalink

    Being cynical, I’d describe this as an end-run to close off CA and Steve McIntyre from any further consideration in this “PR Challenge”.

    Since none of the participants appear to be statisticians, then it remains to be seen what new ways they can screw up statistical testing.

    We’ve already seen in the challenge that they make no use of the concept of double blinding the tests nor on making sure that “correct” results cannot be achieved by chance.

    So an exercise in collective delusion is on the cards.

    It reminds me very much of the announcements of “global warming” or “greenhouse warming” being made by two teams of climate modellers getting approximately (we’ve no idea how close) the same results from the same assumptions.

  36. Scott-in-WA
    Posted Jul 11, 2008 at 7:39 PM | Permalink

    Well…….. When I click on the white paper’s link this evening, Acrobat tells me the file can’t be found. (Easy come… Easy go …)

    I have to say this: I have gotten to the point lately of viewing most dendro-climatologists as being, in actual practice, dendro data chiropractors, who are in turn a subclass of a larger class of climate data chiropractors — people who massage the data in a variety of ways for reasons which have a facade of science about them but which in fact serve other purposes far removed from science.

  37. Jack Linard
    Posted Jul 11, 2008 at 8:00 PM | Permalink

    #30

    There are glaring errors on both sides of the debate

    What two sides?

    There are a vast number of people telling me that I am destroying the planet.

    There are a small number saying, hold on, maybe it’s not all Jack’s fault.

    These few people are asking for a link between doubling of CO2 concentration and temperature rise. They are asking for clarification of temperatures and how they are reported/recorded. They are asking for clarification of the historical record.

    What is the “glaring” error in seeking clarification?

  38. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Jul 11, 2008 at 8:05 PM | Permalink

    Scott-in-WA,

    I just clicked the link and had no trouble downloading the white-paper. Must be something on your side.

  39. Scott-in-WA
    Posted Jul 11, 2008 at 8:12 PM | Permalink

    Dave Dardinger #37 Scott-in-WA … I just clicked the link and had no trouble downloading the white-paper. Must be something on your side.

    Yes, it’s working now and I’m able to look at it. It must have been something transitory on this side.

  40. Posted Jul 11, 2008 at 10:55 PM | Permalink

    Vit Klemes presented in the 2007 Assembly of the International Association of Hydrological Sciences his own tree ring study. Enjoy it: http://www.itia.ntua.gr/en/docinfo/723 (click on Full text).

  41. Posted Jul 11, 2008 at 11:50 PM | Permalink

    Archiving

    I am noticing that in many disciplines, archiving is a critical but missing piece of the puzzle. In the work that I am doing right now for NASA we are looking to recover the original and best version of an existing archive that has been pretty heavily processed over time. For many NASA missions this simply does not happen as there is never any funding in any contract for end of life archiving. I cannot tell you the number of critical scientific discoveries and data that have been lost or kept only because on dedicated person sacrificed a lot to save the data, the Saturn V drawings being just one example.

    Federal law for contracts needs to be changed to have as part of the FARS and as part of the costing and statement of work for a contract, an archiving plan for the data. I know that if this does not exist at NASA it does not exist in many other disciplines either.

    Just a thought.

    I am probably going to give a presentation on this in the next couple of weeks at a NASA conference.

  42. TAC
    Posted Jul 12, 2008 at 4:40 AM | Permalink

    Demetris (#39),

    I read Vit’s piece immediately after Briffa and Cook’s white paper: Brilliant suggestion (roflol funny)!

    Thank you!

  43. Posted Jul 12, 2008 at 11:11 AM | Permalink

    Presumably, if Steve had been invited to the conference, the Briffa/Cook paper would never have seen the light of day. Every cloud has a silver lining.

  44. kuhnkat
    Posted Jul 12, 2008 at 11:29 AM | Permalink

    Thank you Dimitris!!!!!

  45. Smokey
    Posted Jul 12, 2008 at 8:41 PM | Permalink

    Dennis Wingo, re: archiving.

    Maybe there used to be a problem with archiving, but that was then and this is now.

    Today archiving costs literally nothing. Even emailing the info to all colleagues and a journal would suffice.

    The only reason that taxpayer-funded work isn’t archived is because someone doesn’t like sunshine.

  46. George M
    Posted Jul 12, 2008 at 9:02 PM | Permalink

    Well, until they FIRST postulate some believable botany which can then and only then checked against all this statistical froo-frah, I will contend that all these correlations are strictly by chance and nothing more. You do enough comparisons of two unrelated data streams, and eventually something is going to match. Steve can put the probability numbers on that, and I believe did so in the distant past.

  47. Pierre Gosselin
    Posted Jul 13, 2008 at 4:02 AM | Permalink

    I don’t know of any other website that has so skilfully and convincingly exposed the faults and deceptions we’ve seen in the field of climate reconstructions, and have done so almost single-handedly against some awfully tough minds and establishments. My hat’s off.

    M.Villeger
    Maybe they need a little time. At the outset they may have produced results that simply confirmed a lot of wishful thinking, and thus they held so dearly. But later they realised the results were faulty, and tried to defend them before realising there was no chance to do so. Now it seems they’re looking for a way out. Indeed for the time being they find themselves with two dichotomous views, where in public they saying this, but privately they saying that. I don’t expect they’ll admit they were wrong overnight. I suspect this may take awhile. But who knows? Maybe we are approaching a tipping point on the subject.

  48. Hans Erren
    Posted Jul 13, 2008 at 4:47 AM | Permalink

    Let’s wait how the good intentions materialise.
    It can be tested by requesting long outstanding material accompanied with a quote from Briffa-Cook.

    Predicted cop out: “The information you requested is not yet available, however, we are working on it, please be patient.”

  49. Posted Jul 13, 2008 at 6:27 AM | Permalink

    48 Hans

    Predicted cop out: “The information you requested is not yet available, however, we are working on it, please be patient.”

    In GISS’ case that maybe true. They seem to be having as much trouble simplifying their code as Steve has deciphering it.

  50. Scott-in-WA
    Posted Jul 13, 2008 at 8:28 AM | Permalink

    Smokey #45: Dennis Wingo, re: archiving…..Maybe there used to be a problem with archiving, but that was then and this is now. ….. Today archiving costs literally nothing. Even emailing the info to all colleagues and a journal would suffice….. The only reason that taxpayer-funded work isn’t archived is because someone doesn’t like sunshine.

    Wrong ….

    Records management programs which meet currently accepted standards for information archiving and maintenance are expensive to operate in terms of time, money, and people. Running these programs effectively also requires that those who generate the information at its source have a basic understanding of records management theory and practice, and that they build time and money into their work schedules to handle the prep work needed for long term data and information archiving.

    OK, that being said …. Let’s take for an example an organization which calls itself the “National Aeronautics and Space Administration.” Certainly NASA has the policies and procedures in place which demand that professional records management practices be followed, and that adequate resources be provided to its employees to do so.

    If for example, NASA’s management is not requiring of its employees that appropriate records management practices be followed, and if NASA management is not providing appropriate resources to allow its employees to follow its own written rules, then it would seem that NASA’s management needs to replaced by people who accept their official responsibilities and who are willing to follow accepted professional standards as these are embodied in written policies and procedures.

  51. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted Jul 13, 2008 at 9:30 AM | Permalink

    I read the white paper that is the subject of this thread and conclude that, not just readers here at CA and other liked-minded critics, but the involved climate scientists would have to admit that the climate science dealing with temperature reconstructions has not, no way, moved on. The paper, at least indirectly tell us that the problems of MBH98 still exist. So why do climate scientists come here and wonder why Steve M has not moved on? In actuality his criticism has moved on, to the progeny of MBH98, but, according to this white paper, movement of climate science in temperature reconstructions has been imperceptible.

    What I find somewhat unique about some areas of climate science is that one can see these types of valid and commonsense criticisms, as contained in this white paper, without the consequential placing of any added uncertainty on the conclusions coming from the involved science –and in particular when it comes to a show of scientists’ hands on votes that have policy implications. I suspect that this effort will be no different.

  52. tetris
    Posted Jul 13, 2008 at 9:44 AM | Permalink

    Re: 51
    Kenneth,
    Well put. With regard to your observation in the last paragraph, likely a repeat case of cognitive dissonance on their part.

  53. Dishman
    Posted Jul 13, 2008 at 12:43 PM | Permalink

    #50 Scott,

    I’m currently trying to investigate one aspect of that via FOIA. If you information, thoughts or angles of investigation, we may want to talk. Steve M has my e-mail.

  54. rhodeymark
    Posted Jul 13, 2008 at 4:49 PM | Permalink

    #40 Demetris – let me also join in thanks for the hearty belly laugh on a Sunday afternoon.
    Priceless…

  55. Barclay E MacDonald
    Posted Jul 13, 2008 at 5:02 PM | Permalink

    Re 51, Kenneth

    Nice point! One reads the White Paper and the PR Challenge, and you have to ask where is the improvent in data quality and analysis since MBH98? Where are the programs to put Anthony Watts out of work at his blog? To provide easy archiving and retieval, by interested parties? Etc.

    Perhaps we could all get together in Wengen in February and discuss it around some pleasant skiing. But no requirements permitted, just “goals and concerns”. How do we get NOAA to pay for it?

    I really do hope we are to cynical. And we are seeing change, however glacial.

  56. Scott-in-WA
    Posted Jul 13, 2008 at 8:46 PM | Permalink

    Dishman #53: #50 Scott, I’m currently trying to investigate one aspect of that via FOIA. If you information, thoughts or angles of investigation, we may want to talk. Steve M has my e-mail.

    The absence of an appropriate and effective records management program in government-supported climate research is fertile ground for a GAO audit and follow-on report.

    I am surprised that no such GAO investigation has been pursued in the past. Either it hasn’t been asked for, which is very possible, or else the audit actually was requested but was quashed.

    I think it more likely that no one has thought to send the GAO on a type of mission which would be a fairly routine assignment for their staff. NASA would be the very first place I would send the GAO auditors if I were requesting this audit myself.

  57. Pat Frank
    Posted Jul 13, 2008 at 9:22 PM | Permalink

    #40 — Demetris, let me echo everyone else’s thanks for posting Vit Klemes’ enjoyably whimsical talk. Slide #’s 18 & 19 were especially fun to view, seeing him especially draw attention to the hugely varying but contemporaneous tree-ring widths of two trees growing 50 m apart. The northern hemisphere late 20th century divergence problem in miniature.

    It was also good to see an older guy with those fit muscles.

  58. jae
    Posted Jul 15, 2008 at 9:33 AM | Permalink

    57, Pat Frank: To be fair to the dendros, that is not an example of the divergence problem. That is an example of the effects of tree age and probably differences in competition between neighboring trees.

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  1. [...] PR Challenge: the Briffa-Cook “White Paper” Well my first question regarding tree rings is how much variation is caused by rainfall, was someone around 500-1000 yrs ago to measure if there was too much or too little rain? Nope, The size of the rings changes and we guess that it’s based on temperature.  Plus why are pine trees seemingly the only proxies and not moving tree lines or elephant seal breeding grounds?   Commenters who threaten anyone while here because they are not smart enough to come up with a better answer will have some due diligence done on them. Foul mouthed lefty posters beware. [...]

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