More Disinformation from New Scientist about Climategate

New Scientist has used the occasion of CRU’s release of CRUTEM station data in response to the ICO’s rejection of CRU excuses to disseminate further disinformation about the Climategate dossier.

Anyone can now view for themselves the raw data that was at the centre of last year’s “climategate” scandal.

The Climategate dossier is about the Hockey Stick, not the CRUTEM temperature record. CRUTEM is mentioned in only a few emails. Muir Russell’s list of common words in the emails (p 147) doesn’t list CRUTEM, but, according to this list, Yamal is mentioned 100 times. While I had an outstanding FOI request for CRUTEM data in 2009, the primary concern of Climate Audit has been with proxy reconstructions, rather than the temperature record.

Trevor Davies is quoted as follows:

“We released [the dataset] to dispel the myths that the data have been inappropriately manipulated, and that we are being secretive,” says Trevor Davies, the university’s pro-vice-chancellor for research. “Some sceptics argue we must have something to hide, and we’ve released the data to pull the rug out from those who say there isn’t evidence that the global temperature is increasing.”

The reason why the station data should be released (and should have been released long ago) is that the global temperature index is an important statistic and the calculation of that statistic should be transparent and verifiable. End of story. It is even possible that even climate scientists might be interested in back-up for a data set that is so heavily relied upon by IPCC and the community. Getting the data into public domain should have been done long ago by the “community”.

Nor should availability of the back-up data be dependent on the whim of an individual professor at a minor UK university. Nor should either East Anglia or the “community” be content with a system that permitted said professor to send back-up data to his pals (usually in exchange for an expected citation in a resulting article) while refusing to send the back-up data to potential critics.

If Davies’ concern is to “dispel the myths that the data have been inappropriately manipulated, and that we are being secretive”, then they should have released the data long ago when originally requested. In addition, CRU/UEA should not have recently refused an FOI request the 2006 Yamal regional chronology – a topic that actually was at issue in the Climategate dossier and which none of the “investigations” investigated.

I, for one, am very concerned that tree ring data has been “inappropriately manipulated” and that the unreported 2006 URALS/Yamal regional chronology does not show the same story as the bare Yamal chronology reported by CRU. If CRU doesn’t want to look “secretive”, then produce the 2006 regional chronology.

As to whether temperature is higher now than in the 19th century, I, for one, have consistently taken this position. The larger question has been whether it is warmer now than in the Medieval Warm Period or the Holocene Optimum. I don’t even preclude the possibility that it is warmer now than the Medieval Warm Period – my complaint is that the canonical proxy reconstructions don’t prove the point. This doesn’t mean that the point couldn’t be established using better proxies and analysis. An entirely different point (that is often lost both by critics and supporters.)

The New Scientist continues:

Temperature records going back 150 years from 5113 weather stations around the world were yesterday released to the public by the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK. The only records missing are from 19 stations in Poland, which refused to allow them to be made public.

Davies adds:

Davies’s only worry is that the decision to release the Trinidad and Tobago data against its wishes may discourage the open sharing of data in the future. Other research organisations may from now on be reluctant to pool data they wish to be kept private.

The Data
A list of the 5113 stations is at http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temperature/station-data/headers.txt. Two versions of the data are online (Hadley http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/media/zip/e/0/station_files.20110720.zip and CRU). I’ve collated the information into R-objects and uploaded them to http://www.climateaudit.info/data/station/cru/2011. The cru-object is a list of 5113 time series. The info-object is a data frame of metadata (5113 rows).

In response to Willis Eschenbach’s prior FOI request in 2007, CRU released a list of 4138 stations (http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/landstations/crustnsused.txt). While the difference between the 4138 stations then and 5113 stations now may not “matter”, it would be nice which list is the one that is actually used. (This may be an edition change since the original FOI.)

Poland
Although the New Scientist article (and a recent realclimate post) say that Polish data has been excluded, the new data includes the following eight Polish stations:

“ELBING” “SZCZECIN/DABIE” “BIALYSTOK” “POZNAN/LAWICA” “LEGIONOWO” “WARSAW-OKECIE” “WROCLAW-STRACHOWICE” “KRAKOW”

It excludes the following twelve Polish stations (listed in the prior FOI request):

“KOSZALIN” “GDANSK/REBEICHOWO” “SUWALKI” “TORUN” “ZIELONA GORA” “KLODZKO” “OPOLE” “CZESTOCHOWA” “SANDOMIERZ” “ZAMOSC” “ZAKOPANE” “PRZEMYSL”

Is there a reason why they published eight Polish stations, while not publishing the other twelve? Or, out of general klutziness, did they inadvertently publish data for the twelve, while intending not to? Or is the mole at work again? One never knows.

A reader has taken the present Polish refusal as evidence of a previous confidentiality agreement. However, there is no evidence of a prior confidentiality agreement. CRU’s Polish data appears to be derived from GHCN and CLIMAT, rather than directly from the NMS. (The form of the station names strongly suggests this to me as it matches GHCN forms. When CRU used NMS data directly, as with Canada and Australia, the form of station nomenclature varies from GHCN forms).

Other Omissions
CRU says that the omissions in the present data are limited to Polish data. This is not exactly right. There are 26 stations in the former FOI list than are not in the present list, of which only 12 are from Poland. Other apparent omissions come from Germany (2 – MAGDEBURG,BROCKEN) ; Yugoslavia (SKOPJE) ; USA (3 – FAIRBANKS/EXP STAT., CORPUS CHRISTI, NEW YORK) ; Canada ( 6- RIDGETOWN, BELLEVILLE, NITCHEQUON, MORDEN, WASECA, CHESTERFIELD), Mexico (1 – TACUBAYA U/A) and Japan (1 – TITIZIMA/CHICHIJIMA). While the omissions probably don’t “matter”, it’s always hard to figure out the algorithm by which they go AWOL.

Trinidad/Tobago
The CRU data set includes one station from Trinidad/Tobago: “PIARCO INTL A”, which Davies says has been released against Trinidad’s wishes. Data for Piarco International Airport is readily available on the internet (see Wundergroud here). So one wonders precisely what has been objected to.

If CRU were seriously worried about offending Trinidad/Tobago, then surely they should have considered this before their many previous disclosures of Trinidad/Tobago data. CRU disclosed this data to the US Department of Energy, who placed this data online at CDIAC as early as 1991. See http://cdiac.ornl.gov/ftp/ndp020/jones. If CRU had a confidentiality agreement with Trinidad/Tobago, they first started violating it in 1991 and continued to do so subsequently.

If Davies is worried about the impact of confidentiality violations on international exchange of data, then he should immediately begin an investigation of CRU’s prior violations of these agreements.


31 Comments

  1. dilren43
    Posted Jul 31, 2011 at 11:10 AM | Permalink | Reply

    There are so many red herrings flapping about in this AGW/Climategate/CO2 tax saga that you could start a fish processing factory.

    And a very profitable one at that.

    • Posted Jul 31, 2011 at 12:47 PM | Permalink | Reply

      I disagree. It’s the same red herring every time and has been from the moment a PR strategy was devised for Climategate. CRUTEM was never central to Steve’s concerns and Steve’s concerns – the Hockey Stick and Yamal – were central to the Climategate leak. In addition to the ‘poor Phil’ narrative we’ve been considering this month there were two other pillars of the PR campaign: pretend it was all about CRUTEM and never engage with Steve directly, because within a few seconds this red herring would be revealed as such.

      It’s not only incredibly dishonest, it’s also incredibly boring. At some point the dam will crack. Well done as always to our host for calming restating the reasons, once again, that it should.

  2. Posted Jul 31, 2011 at 11:10 AM | Permalink | Reply

    So Trinidad/Tobago, Poland, and Phil Jones were the only ones who objected? I think we could still do a decent global temperature index (as meaningless as that is) without them.

    But yeah, CRUTEM was not the focus by any means. Show us the robust paleo reconstructions.

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted Jul 31, 2011 at 11:31 AM | Permalink | Reply

      I do not believe that there were any confidentiality agreements that effectively stood in the way of the original request. If there were a confidentiality agreement with Trinidad/Tobago, then Jones shouldn’t have disclosed their data to the US Department of Energy in violation of that agreement.

      • Posted Jul 31, 2011 at 12:24 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Right. I understood that from your OP. But supposedly they objected to their data being open to the public. At any rate, such a small number of data points would hardly make a difference. Then again, we are dealing with The Team…

  3. Posted Jul 31, 2011 at 11:54 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Disinformation is to New Scientist what butter is to bread. The latter would be good without the former but for some reason most of the time the former is spread all over the latter.

  4. oakwood
    Posted Jul 31, 2011 at 12:16 PM | Permalink | Reply

    It seems amazing that there should be so many sloppy mistakes, given that they could expect the data to be throughly double checked by someone (such as yourself). If a universtiy department can make such basic mistakes in simply issuing data, what does that mean for their scientific analyses?

    Will you (Steve) be writing to New Scientist? Or perhaps you might assume ‘its not worth it’.

    • KnR
      Posted Jul 31, 2011 at 2:45 PM | Permalink | Reply

      oakwood , remember Phil saying to the Parliamentary review no one had asked for this data before , they grown fat and lazy on the back of ‘trusted mates ‘ that knew what to ask and more important what not to ask about .

  5. geo
    Posted Jul 31, 2011 at 12:46 PM | Permalink | Reply

    “. . .we’ve released the data to pull the rug out from those. . .”

    Trevor Davies has no business being in charge of science anywhere with that attitude. Science is a cooperative, long-term, accretive venture across generations. Generally, doctorates and masters degrees are awarded for making an original contribution to the knowledge of mankind, not for scoring tit-for-tat points in a competition.

    I find the kind of thinking that Davies exposed right there as highly offensive, and deeply inappropriate to the whole idea of “science”.

  6. Barclay E MacDonald
    Posted Jul 31, 2011 at 12:54 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Nicely stated! Your post above makes this very complicated and confusing issue and the sub-issues quite clear. Your tenacity, hard work and valuable insights are greatly appreciated. I look forward to your further efforts.

  7. Adam Gallon
    Posted Jul 31, 2011 at 12:58 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Davies’s words make it sound as if the release of this data is purely voluntary. You’d think that there’s never been any FOI process to obtain it.

    • Jim T
      Posted Jul 31, 2011 at 1:31 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Yes, just like Nixon released his tapes simply to “pull the rug out” from under his critics – The Supreme Court had nothing to do with it.

  8. Frank
    Posted Jul 31, 2011 at 12:59 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Steve: In the case of Poland and T&T, which object to release of their data, CRU may have released CRU data for stations that were publicly available from other sources and withheld data that was actually unknown. This hypothesis would explain CRU’s otherwise inconsistent behavior.

    Did CRU ever produce any confidentiality agreements?

  9. a reader
    Posted Jul 31, 2011 at 2:32 PM | Permalink | Reply

    This paper,”The Global Historical Climatology Network:A preview of V.2″ Vose(1995) explains some of the sharing problem with climate data. For instance from Section 2.2, after an explanation of “Exploiting Personal Contact” or as they say “smoothing the path”, they say this:

    “One of the best examples of data acquired via personal contact is an archive compiled by Penn State Professor Emeritus Frederick L. Wernstedt. For decades Prof. Wernstedt has gone to great lengths to search out and to digitize data from nonindustrialized countries. Early in the GHCN project he arrived at NCDC with a suitcase of floppy disks containing records for over 6000 stations. GHCN still has a synergistic relationship with Prof. Wernstedt, financing his travels (most recently to Brazil) in return for shared use of his valuable hard-sought data.”

    Wernstedt’s book “World Climatic Data” (1972) containing about 19,000 climatic stations, and used in Uni. Geog. Depts. at the time must have been considered intellectual property, yes?

    The stations he lists for Poland (57 out of 67) seem to be missing years of record and elevation info. If I remember the TRO22 also had poor metadata. Poland has had a stormy history.

    Trinidad Piarco Aero has 14 years, Imperial College 37 yrs., and St. Clair Agra. Sta. 98 years.

  10. KnR
    Posted Jul 31, 2011 at 2:44 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Trevor Davies been spinning for all his worth for a long time , indeed it would not be a surprise to find his responsibility for the ‘quality’ of the reviews is considerable .

  11. Paul_in_CT
    Posted Jul 31, 2011 at 3:00 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Steve, small typo maybe, you say:

    “Is there a reason why they published eight Polish stations, while not publishing the other twelve? Or, out of general klutziness, did they inadvertently publish data for the twelve, while intending not to?”

    I think that last “twelve” should be “eight?” -Paul

  12. pesadia
    Posted Jul 31, 2011 at 3:09 PM | Permalink | Reply

    “We released [the dataset] to dispel the myths that the data have been inappropriately manipulated, and that we are being secretive,” says Trevor Davies, the university’s pro-vice-chancellor for research. “Some sceptics argue we must have something to hide, and we’ve released the data to pull the rug out from those who say there isn’t evidence that the global temperature is increasing”
    This statement is disingenuous to say the least as it does not mention “the science” which is the only ligitimate reason for making the data freely available.
    Classic way of making a bad situation profoundly unpalatable.

  13. mikemUK
    Posted Jul 31, 2011 at 3:49 PM | Permalink | Reply

    It would be interesting to know if Poland/Trinidad actually did refuse extended circulation of their data, or if they are now being used as a makeshift figleaf for UEA’s previous excuses for withholding requested information.
    Perhaps I’m being too cynical.

  14. Posted Jul 31, 2011 at 4:00 PM | Permalink | Reply

    One of my posts was just swallowed whole without appearing, in case that’s what you’re testing here.

  15. PaulM
    Posted Jul 31, 2011 at 4:35 PM | Permalink | Reply

    This is why I suggested on the ICO thread that someone should write an accurate account of the requests for station data, starting from the “why should I make the data available to you when your aim is to find something wrong with it” quote and going through all the bogus excuses dreamt up by CRU and ending with the ICO ruling that forced last weeks release. Perhaps this could be done as a joint effort via a wiki if somebody knows how to set this up?

    But the history re-writers have already got in there already.
    KnR describes Trevor Davies as ‘spinning’ and pesadia says he is ‘disingenuous’. Neither of these terms is really the appropriate one; it is simply a falsehood. They released the data because they were legally forced to by the Information Commissioner.

    It’s interesting to see the sources the New Scientist used: Trevor Davies, Tom Peterson, Gavin Schmidt and Bob Ward. Given the title of the piece any respectable journalist would have got the reaction of somebody from the skeptic side.

    • KnR
      Posted Jul 31, 2011 at 5:05 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Bob ‘fast fingers’ Ward is the go to man when it comes to advice on playing the PR game , his no scientific role at all when his name turns up you know someones trying to pull one over on the public , as that his job description.

  16. SethP
    Posted Jul 31, 2011 at 5:15 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Mr. McIntyre: Would you ever consider expressing what you just posted in the form of an editorial and submitting it to some newspapers?

    When the average person hears of this the think of you as someone that “denies” all warming from CO2 etc and they have obviously cast you as someone challenging the validity of the temperature records.

    I think it would be of great help to editorialize this misdirection and make clear the points you have already laid out here on numerous occasions, especially the point that you are not challenging warming as such, but the temperature reconstructions used to frame it as an “unprecedented” situation. I know you have expressed as much in the past in the media but I think a response to this FOIA release would be appropriate. People need to realize that this is all a big game and the jokes really on them.

    As I have been told before, it’s not how good you are or how much work you do, it’s how well you can play the “game”. Unfortunate, but this is what modern climate “science” is.

  17. BillyBob
    Posted Jul 31, 2011 at 6:55 PM | Permalink | Reply

    In the data I downloaded, these Canadian stations have data:
    RIDGETOWN 1886 to 1999
    BELLEVILLE 1921 to 1999
    NITCHEQUON 1943 to 1994
    MORDEN 1905 to 1997
    WASECA 1908 to 1999
    CHESTERFIELD 1922 to 1999
    (And by data I mean full years)

    Only 25 of the 338 “71xxxx” stations (I assume are all Canada) have 2010 data
    8 have data to 2009
    1 to 2008
    The rest are 2004 and earlier.

    • JR
      Posted Jul 31, 2011 at 9:28 PM | Permalink | Reply

      And then there are gems like this one sprinkled throughout:

      724810 373 1205 46 MERCED-MUNICIPAL-AP- USA——— 18912007 101891

      I wonder what type of planes they were landing at Merced in 1891? Or maybe Merced was on the cutting edge of the Age of Aviation?

  18. Reynold Stone
    Posted Jul 31, 2011 at 7:05 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I work at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago. I find it extremely difficult to believe that someone in Trinidad and Tobago would object to the dissemination of the data collected by the Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Office at the Piarco International Airport.

    I say this because each month I receive from the Met Office by e-mail a monthly summary of data such as maximum and minimum temperatures, extreme maximum and minimum temperatures, daily rainfall, maximum and minimum sea level pressures, sunshine hours, wind speed and so on. I have been encouraged to share the data with anyone who may need them without any restrictions whatsoever. In fact, the Met Office usually refers many researchers to me since I have the data in a format that is quite useful to other researchers. Indeed,at a meeting with the top folks at the Met Office earlier this year, they indicated that they would like as many persons as possible to use their data because it is very expensive to collect. And, of course, it emphasises the importance and usefulness of their work!

    Reynold Stone
    University of the West Indies
    St. Augustine,
    Trinidad and Tobago

  19. Keith Minto
    Posted Jul 31, 2011 at 8:51 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Geo, I hope you do not mind me repeating this comment by you, it was so well expressed.

    “. . .we’ve released the data to pull the rug out from those. . .”

    Trevor Davies has no business being in charge of science anywhere with that attitude. Science is a cooperative, long-term, accretive venture across generations. Generally, doctorates and masters degrees are awarded for making an original contribution to the knowledge of mankind, not for scoring tit-for-tat points in a competition.

    I find the kind of thinking that Davies exposed right there as highly offensive, and deeply inappropriate to the whole idea of “science”.

    • Rick Edwards
      Posted Aug 2, 2011 at 6:23 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Keith – that’s exactly what I also thought.

      Maybe a letter to the regents asking if they agree with the tone struck by their vice chancellor of research. Perhaps his guidance in scientific objectivity should be encoded in university-wide research protocols.

      Alternately, it may be a Marshall McLuhan moment.

  20. Peter Wilson
    Posted Aug 1, 2011 at 12:24 AM | Permalink | Reply

    “we’ve released the data to pull the rug out from those who say there isn’t evidence that the global temperature is increasing”

    I find it hard to imagine a more childish and inappropriate remark by someone meant to be in charge of an institute of learning. Quite apart from the fact that they released the data kicking and screaming because they were ordered to, the idea that it is a University’s function to release or withhold data according to whom it will “pull the rug out from” is beyond belief.

    No reason is needed to release data, and a VERY good one should be required to withhold it. The fact that Davies sees it differently makes him clearly unfit for his current position

  21. Posted Aug 1, 2011 at 3:04 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I disagree. Few people have done more to damage the CRU and UEA reputation than Trevor Davies. I say, let’s hope he’s got many more of these fruitful years in his and our future.

    Who knows, maybe he’ll become Chancellor and the whole thing will close down. Let’s vote him to replace Pachauri and the IPCC will disappear. If only Qaddafi can get Davies to head the rebellion, his (Qaddafi’s) hold to power would be guaranteed forever!

    Three hurrays for Professor Trevor Davies, the Fred Freiberger of climate science!!

  22. kim
    Posted Aug 1, 2011 at 8:56 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Fly, Trevor Davies,
    On your magic carpet ride.
    Genie out of jar.
    ================

  23. Posted Aug 1, 2011 at 8:57 AM | Permalink | Reply

    In a country famous for both stiff upper lip dignity and Mr. Bean, it is important to keep straight which tradition one is aspiring to…

2 Trackbacks

  1. [...] McIntyre at Climate Audit explains how New Scientist magazine has used the occasion of CRU’s release of CRUTEM station data (temperature [...]

  2. [...] McIntyre se proti této dezinterpretaci ohrazuje v článku „More disinformation from New Scientist about Climategate“ (Climateaudit.org 31 July [...]

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