Earlier this year, I reported on the refusal of Raphael Neukom, an associate of IPCC confidentiality advocate and WG1 Co-Chair Thomas Stocker at the University of Bern, to archive data used in a then recent multiproxy study, Neukom et al 2011 (Clim Dyn). In his refusal letter, Neukom stated that
Most of the non-publicly available records were provided to us for use within the PAGES LOTRED-SA initiative only
Neukom’s website lists a set of multiproxy data, many of the series said to be “available on request for LOTRED-SA contributors”.
Despite Neukom’s “excuse” that the data had been provided to him for use “within the PAGES LOTRED-SA initiative only“, Neukom et al 2011 has been prominently used in the IPCC AR5 draft assessment report. The Neukom reconstruction is used to compare the performance of models to paleoclimate reconstruction in South America in FOD Figure 5.9 as shown below:
Figure 1. Neukom et al 2011 south South American temperature reconstruction (heavy black). Colored lines show results from various climate models.
Unless you are a climate scientist, you would probably not describe the paleoclimate reconstruction as cohering particularly well with the various models, but that’s a story for another day.
In the running text of the draft AR5, Neukom et al is cited on several occasions, including as authority for the observation that SH summer temperatures in the Medieval Warm Period (you know, the one that is supposedly regionally restricted to Greenland and a few counties in England) were “mostly warmer than the 20th century climatology”:
Progress has been made in the SH since AR4, where new tree ring records from the Andes, northern and southern Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego, New Zealand and Tasmania (Boninsegna et al., 2009; Cook et al., 2006; Villalba et al., 2009), ice cores, lake sediments and documentary evidence from southern South America (Neukom et al., 2011; Prieto and García Herrera, 2009; Tierney et al., 2010a; Vimeux et al., 2009; von Gunten et al., 2009) and terrestrial and shallow marine geological records from eastern Antarctica (Verleyen et al., 2011) allow a better understanding of past temperature variations (Neukom et al., 2011). A multi-proxy reconstruction for southern South American (Neukom et al., 2011) finds austral summer temperatures between 900 CE and 1350 CE that are mostly warmer than the 20th century climatology (though associated with large uncertainties), with a sharp transition after 1350 CE to colder conditions that last until approximately 1700 CE.
Citation of Neukom et al 2011 by IPCC clearly takes its use outside the realm of LOTRED-SA associates, but Neukom has thus far taken no steps to ensure that proxy data of Neukom et al 2011 (now used by IPCC) is available to anyone outside his circle of cronies.
Neukom (together with Joelle Gergis) has also published a recent survey of Southern Hemisphere proxies Neukom and Gergis 2011, one of the objectives of which was to report on the “availability” of SH proxies. Unfortunately, with the sort of blindness all too familiar from Climategate, Neukom and Gergis conflate availability of data to cronies with public availability – a situation that I am presently testing with a long-unarchived Eric Steig data set.
Neukom and Gergis 2011 is one of a number of recent multiproxy articles appearing more or less on the eve of AR5, as they themselves note:
Given the importance of global circulation features like ENSO, IOD, SAM and the IPO, a concerted effort is now underway to consolidate existing high-resolution palaeoclimate records from these regions in time for the IPCC fifth assessment report (AR5) (Gergis et al., 2011; Neukom et al., 2010, 2011).
They provide a list of 174 proxies (expanded from the list on Neukom’s website) that supposedly meet the following criteria:
- extend prior to 1900
- are calendar dated or have at least 70 age estimates in the 20th century
- extend beyond 1970 to allow sufficient overlap with instrumental records
- are accessible through public data bases or upon request from the original authors
Series said to be available “upon request from the original owners” are, for the most part, the same series that had previously been described as only “available on request for LOTRED-SA contributors”. Neukom and Gergis report that there were only 14 records extending back to 1000 AD that met the above criteria. Somewhat surprisingly, although IPCC had claimed “progress since AR4″ in the development of SH proxy data, only one of the 14 series appears to have been developed since AR4 (with most of the series being developed prior to AR3.)
Many of these records are listed by Neukom and Gergis as only “available upon request”. The most intriguing such example is Eric Steig’s Siple Dome dD (and d18O) series – see excerpt below – which Neukom obtained as a “personal communications”.
The Siple Dome core was drilled in 1993-4: the data was publicly funded. Even by Lonnie Thompson standards, this is a long time for the data to remain both unpublished and unarchived, particularly given the scarcity of long SH proxies. One cannot help but think that the data set would have been promptly published if it had HS shape and, ergo, my prediction is that, if and when, the data ever is made “available”, it will not have a Hockey Stick shape.
As a test of Neukom and Gergis’ statement that the data sets are “available upon request”, I submitted a request for this data to Eric Steig (cc Neukom) a couple of days ago, thus far, without acknowledgement from either.
Dear Dr Steig,
Neukom and Gergis 2011 stated that the datasets listed in their tables were accessible “upon request from the original authors”. Among their series are Siple Dome delD (1000-1993) and d18O (1654-1994) series said to have been sent to Neukom as a “pers comm.” In 2010. Could you please provide me with a copy of the series that you provided to Dr Neukom.
Thank you for your attention,
My early line on the over/under for getting the data is the publication date of AR5.
Six more of the 14 long series were obtained by Neukom and Gergis from crony contact (rather than public archives) including: Law Dome (Curran); ocean sediment series 106KL (Rein); four South American tree ring series: Central cluster 3A/CAN Composite 20; Central Cluster 3C/CAN Composite 25 and Central Cluster 3B/CAN Composite 23 (all said at Neukom’s website were said to be “unpublished” and to be only “available on request for LOTRED-SA contributors” and Lenca was said to be “Not public”.) The Aculeo temperature reconstruction from pigments is only available in a smoothed version of the regression product – the underlying data has not been archived. In the case of the South American tree ring series, there are public archives of measurement data that appear to overlap the versions used here. The existence of different versions makes the need for careful archiving of versions as used all the more important.
Despite IPCC’s puff about “progress”, a more objective assessment of actual progress in the field would be to inform readers from other fields that there has actually been negligible progress since AR4 in the development of new long proxies.
Tree rings: the Lenca series ends in 1987; the three long Central Cluster/CAN Composite series are Fitzroya cupressoides (FICU) series that end between 1990 and 1995. One of these series is almost certainly a version of the Rio Alerce FICU series used in the AR3 reconstructions Jones et al 1998 and Mann et al 1998-99. At most, the Neukom and Gergis versions appear to be re-processing of data collected in the early 1990s.
Ice cores: the “14″ series of Neukom and Gergis appear to include five ice core series, none of which are new since AR4 (and again, most are older than that.) Two series from the 1993 Siple Dome core appear to be included (Na- Mayewski et al 2004; and dD – Steig and White, unpublished and unarchived); a Law Dome series (presumably related to the series illustrated in Jones and Mann 2004); a series from Berkner Island (Mulvaney et al 2002); and Quelccaya, Peru (Thompson 1983, updated 2003). The Law Dome series was definitely available for AR4. As an AR4 reviewer, I had asked that it be included in the illustration of actual SH proxies. IPCC correspondence about the decision not to show this proxy (which has an elevated MWP) is in the Climategate dossier. CRU’s Tim Osborn (also Lead Author in AR5), knowing that the proxy showed an elevated MWP (and that I knew this and that I knew that they knew that I knew…), proposed that they cover themselves by mentioning the proxy in the running text but not show it in the diagram, a device readily agreed to by IPCC authors reluctant to show a SH series with an elevated MWP.
Coral: the discontinuous Palmyra series of Cobb et al (2003). See 2006 CA discussion here.
Sediments: ocean sediment 106KL was already available in Rein (2004), not Rein (2007) as shown by Neukom and Gergis. The Aculeo pigment reflectance series of von Gunten et al 2009 is new.
As I presently understand the matter, only one of the 14 data sets is “new” since AR4: the Aculeo pigment reflectance series. And while the development of novel proxies is a good idea, until the pigment reflectance methodology is replicated in other lakes, little weight should be placed on this result (particularly without the underlying data being available for analysis.)
In my opinion, a candid assessment of progress in the field by IPCC would clearly state that (1) Neukom and Gergis’ list shows that there has been essentially no development since AR4 of SH proxies that permit comparison of the medieval and modern periods; and (2) that much (far too much) of the limited data still remains unarchived. Unfortunately, WG1 Co-Chair Stocker seems more concerned with ensuring confidentiality of IPCC drafts and internal correspondence.