Yamal FOI Sheds New Light on Flawed Data

Phil Jones’ first instinct on learning about Climategate was that it was linked to the Yamal controversy that was in the air in the weeks leading up to Climategate. I had speculated that CRU must have done calculations for Yamal along the lines of the regional chronology for Taimyr published in Briffa et al 2008. CRU was offended and issued sweeping denials, but my surmise was confirmed by an email in the Climategate dossier. Unfortunately neither Muir Russell nor Oxburgh investigated the circumstances of the withheld regional chronology, despite my submission drawing attention to this battleground issue.

I subsequently submitted an FOI request for the Yamal-Urals regional chronology and a simple list of sites used in the regional chronology. Both requests were refused by the University of East Anglia. I appealed to the Information Commissioner (ICO).

A week ago, the Information Commissioner notified the University of East Anglia that he would be ruling against them on my longstanding FOI request for the list of sites used in the Yamal-Urals regional chronology referred to in a 2006 Climategate email. East Anglia accordingly sent me a list of the 17 sites used in the Yamal-Urals regional chronology (see here). A decision on the chronology itself is pending. In the absence of the chronology itself, I’ve done an RCS calculation, the results of which do not yield a Hockey Stick.

In today’s post, I’ll also show that important past statements and evidence to Muir Russell by CRU on the topic have been either untruthful or deceptive.

The Relevance of Yamal

The Yamal chronology is relevant both because, since its introduction in 2000, it has been used in virtually all of the supposedly “independent” IPCC multiproxy studies (see an October 2009 discussion here) and because it is particularly influential in contributing an HS-shape to the studies that do not use bristlecones.

IPCC AR4 Box 6.4 showed the eight proxies which have been used the most repetitively (this wasn’t its intent.) Of these eight proxies, Briffa’s Yamal (labelled “NW Russia”) is shown with the biggest HS blade, larger even than Mann’s PC1 (labelled here as “W USA”). See here) and tag yamal.

Figure 1. Yamal Chronology in IPCC AR4 Box 6.4. Labelled as “NW Russia”

In previous posts, I’ve satirized the “addiction” of paleoclimatologists to bristlecones and Yamal as, respectively, heroin and cocaine for climatologists. (In pharmacological terms, upside-down Tiljander would be, I guess, LSD, as the psychedelic Mann et al 2008 is indifferent as to whether proxies are used upside-down or not (cue Jefferson Airplane‘s insightful critique of Mannian statistics.)

Although Yamal and Polar Urals had been long-standing topics at Climate Audit, they first attracted wide attention in late September 2009, when measurement data became available for the three “regional chronologies” of Briffa et al 2008 (Taimyr-Avam, Tornetrask-Finland and Yamal).

The 2008 Taimyr-Avam and Tornetrask-Finland networks were dramatic expansions of the corresponding networks of Briffa (2000), but the Yamal network, which was already much smaller than the other two networks, remained unchanged. Analysis of the previously unavailable Taimyr data showed that Briffa had added measurement data from several Schweingruber sites into the Taimyr-Avam regional chronology (a point not mentioned in the article itself.) Since there were a number of Schweingruber sites (including Polar Urals) in a similarly sized region around Yamal, it seemed almost certain that CRU would have done a corresponding regional chronology calculation at Yamal.

This raised the obvious question of why Briffa et al 2008 had not similarly included Schweingruber data in a Yamal “regional” chronology. Ross posed the question in a contemporary op ed as follows:

Combining data from different samples would not have been an unusual step. Briffa added data from another Schweingruber site to a different composite, from the Taimyr Peninsula. The additional data were gathered more than 400 km away from the primary site. And in that case the primary site had three or four times as many cores to begin with as the Yamal site. Why did he not fill out the Yamal data with the readily-available data from his own coauthor? Why did Briffa seek out additional data for the already well-represented Taimyr site and not for the inadequate Yamal site?

The question applied not just to the Khadyta River site in the original CA post, but to Polar Urals and other nearby sites. These questions resulted in considerable controversy at the time. CRU protested their innocence and posted a lengthy response on October 29, 2009, denying that they had ever even “considered” use of the Schweingruber Khadyta River site, discussed in contemporary Climate Audit posts. In a submission to Muir Russell, they later denied ever re-appraising their Polar Urals chronology.

The Climategate dossier was released in November 2009, a few weeks after the Yamal controversy. As Fred Pearce observed in The Climate Files, the Climategate dossier begins with Yamal and ends with Yamal. Pearce also observed that the word “Yamal” occurs more often than any other “totem” of the disputes, even more than “hockey stick”. Nearly all Climategate documents with unbleached dates were copied after my Yamal posts and Yamal measurement data dominated the earliest documents.

The Climategate dossier revealed that CRU had, after all, calculated a Yamal-Urals regional chronology as early as April 2006. (CG1 – 684. 1146252894.txt). The present FOI request referred to this email.

The Yamal-Urals Regional Chronology
The FOI list consists of 17 larch datasets in western Siberia between 50 and 75E, all but one north of 64N. It includes: (1) Yamal of Briffa (2000); (2) Polar Urals used in Briffa (1995); (3) additional Polar Urals data from 1999 (the “update”); (4) the Schweingruber Khadyta River site; (5) 7 other Schweingruber larch data sets; (6) two Shiyatov data sets collected in the 1960s; (7) four Vaganov data sets collected in 1992. All have been publicly archived except the Vaganov data, which, although used as early as MBH98, was first disclosed in the Climategate documents. (CRU placed a Vaganov subset online at their website in April 2012 as part of their FOI response.)

The Schweingruber Khadya River site in the FOI list (russ035w) is exactly the same site that I had discussed at Climate Audit in September 2009. Site russ176w in the FOI list is the Polar Urals “update” discussed in many Climate Audit posts.

The figure below compares core counts for the withheld regional chronology (salmon) to core counts for Yamal (cyan). Modern core counts for the regional chronology are about 20 times higher than core counts in the reported Yamal chronology, reaching nearly 400 cores in the 1960s. In the 1980s, core counts are still around 300, as compared to 12 in the Yamal chronology.

Figure 2. Core Counts: Withheld Regional Chronology and Reported Yamal “Regional” Chronology

CA readers will doubtless recall CRU’s statements that the “best” indication of regional ring widths requires use of “all the data”).

So what is the “best” indication of relative ring-width changes in this Yamal region? One approach is to judge this by making use of all the data to hand.

The next figure shows a Yamals-Urals regional chronology (script shown in first comment). In this figure, I’ve calculated the chronology after allowing for inter-site differences. If inter-site differences are ignored, a “method” potentially used in other Briffa et al 2008 regions, 20th century levels are a little higher but not exceptional. (I’ll post up an attachment showing the differences.)

Figure 3. Yamal-Urals regional chronology. In this regional calculation, inter-site differences in mean ring width are allowed for by scaling post-1500 mean ring width at each site to equal the overall post-1500 mean ring width.

Although this chronology seems to look a lot different than the canonical Yamal hockey stick, prior to the 20th century, they are extremely similar (800-1900 correlation of 0.91.) Briffa’s Yamal chronology diverges high in the 20th century and especially the late 20th century, as shown in both figures below. In the left figure, both series are scaled on 800-1900 to emphasize the 20th century high divergence of the Briffa Yamal chronology; on the right is a scatter plot of Briffa’s Yamal (800-1996) against the regional chronology, with values after 1850 colored, also showing the high divergence.

Figure 4. Left – Yamal and regional chronology (scaled on 800-1900). right – scatter plot. Click to enlarge.

CRU Statements and Evidence
The question for CRU defenders is to justify their preference of such a small core count, when they had already calculated a regional chronology with an order of magnitude more cores. Since the original criticism in September 2009, CRU has given a variety of different responses, but none, in my opinion, answer the question. Indeed, none of their responses to date have even admitted or disclosed their prior calculation of a regional chronology, let alone explain why they didn’t report it, preferring instead to attack their critics.

CRU’s first reaction to Climate Audit questioning of their inconsistent handling of the Taimyr and Yamal regional chronologies was ridicule – a reaction quickly endorsed by realclimate and other advocacy blogs.

In The Climate Files, Fred Pearce described this response as follows:

For Briffa, as a tree ring technician, what McIntyre was doing was farce. McIntyre simply didn’t know what he was dealing with, he argued. The new data, Briffa said with evident disdain for the ignoramus on his trail, was estimating temperature from “maximum late wood density” measurements. These were quite different from the tree ring width measurements used in the Yamal series. Scientifically they were not comparable. And the data McIntyre had chosen only went back 100 years, which was useless for the longer time series Briffa was interested in.

Realclimate, known from Climategate emails to have been coordinating with CRU on this matter, immediately accused me of “randomly” adding in data found on the internet:

McIntyre has based his ‘critique’ on a test conducted by randomly adding in one set of data from another location in Yamal that he found on the internet. People have written theses about how to construct tree ring chronologies in order to avoid end-member effects and preserve as much of the climate signal as possible. Curiously no-one has ever suggested simply grabbing one set of data, deleting the trees you have a political objection to and replacing them with another set that you found lying around on the web.

These criticisms were widely accepted in the advocacy “community”. However, the incorrectness of the derision is eloquently rebutted by the inclusion of the Khadyta River dataset in the FOI list. Not that I expect any of them to withdraw these criticisms.

Khadyta “Not Considered”
A few weeks later (October 29, 2009), CRU took a different and inconsistent line in an article on the CRU website. This time, instead of ridiculing the inclusion of Khadyta River, they conceded that the site met their criteria, but claimed that they had “simply not considered” it at the time:

Our current practice when selecting data to incorporate in a regional chronology, is to include data exhibiting high levels of common high-frequency variability (i.e. on the basis of high inter-site correlations, where these are calculated using high-pass filtered data). Judged according to this criterion it is entirely appropriate to include the data from the KHAD site (used in McIntyre’s sensitivity test) when constructing a regional chronology for the area. However, we simply did not consider these data at the time, focussing only on the data used in the companion study by Hantemirov and Shiyatov and supplied to us by them.

They re-iterated this claim in both their March 1 and June 17 submissions to Muir Russell, stating, for example, in the latter (p. 8):

“McKitrick is implying that we considered and deliberately excluded data from our Yamal chronology. The data that he is referring to were never considered at the time because the purpose of the work reported in Briffa (2000) and Briffa et al. (2008) was to reprocess the existing dataset of Hantemirov and Shiyatov (2002).

Again, CRU’s claims not to have “considered” inclusion of Khadyta River (and other similar Schweingruber sites) is refuted by the FOI list. The untruthfulness of this evidence was not commented on by Muir Russell.

The “Purpose” of Briffa et al 2008

According to CRU’s website statement and submissions to Muir Russell, the reason why they had failed to “consider” the Khadyta River data was that the “purpose” of Briffa 2000 and Briffa et al 2008 was simply to “reprocess” Hantemirov and Shiyatov 2002. (See quotations above.)

As always with CRU, one has to watch the pea.

One of the purposes of Briffa (2000) was clearly to demonstrate the effect of RCS methodology on the Hantemirov and Shiyatov 2002 dataset. I have no objection to CRU claiming this “purpose” for Briffa (2000).

But, by 2008, this was no longer their “purpose”. Indeed, one doubts whether the editors of Phil Trans B would have accepted a 2008 paper with such a mundane purpose. The actual “purpose” of Briffa et al 2008 is stated quite clearly and was entirely different: it introduced and discussed “regional” chronologies. In accordance with that purpose, the datasets for the Taimyr and Tornetrask regions were dramatically expanded from 2000.

CRU’s evidence to Muir Russell on the “purpose” of Briffa et al (2008) was deceptive and/or untruthful. [Update May 11 - Gavin Schmidt agreed that CRU's evidence here is a "mis-statement" but characterizes the "mis-statement" as only "slight" and rejects the idea that CRU would intentionally mislead Muir Russell. Be that as it may, the evidence as it stands was untrue on this point and has not been corrected.]

Insufficient Time
Nor was CRU consistent with their excuses, even within individual submissions to Muir Russell.

In their June 17 submission to Muir Russell, after previously making the implausible and untrue claim about reprocessing, CRU admitted that the “purpose” of Briffa et al 2008 was to present regional chronologies and that they had, indeed, planned to do one for the Yamal-Urals region. However, they claimed that they didn’t have enough time to complete it and therefore reverted to the small Yamal dataset:

When we later received a request to submit a paper to a planned themed issue of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society about ‘The boreal forest and global change’, Briffa and colleagues decided to use some of the material to hand in preparing a draft. It was intended that this should describe 3 continuous 2000-year ring-width series, each originally planned to represent the integration of a large-regional data set of subfossil and living tree data. The focus was to be on representing large-regional growth signals and initial comparisons with equivalent regional temperature data. The western, ‘Fennoscandia’, series would incorporate near tree-line pine data from northern Sweden and Finland; the Avam-Taimyr series would integrate larch data from near the Taimyr peninsula tree-line region. Between these we had intended to explore an integrated Polar Urals/Yamal larch series but it was felt that this work could not be completed in time and Briffa made the decision to reprocess the Yamal ring-width data to hand, using improved standardization techniques, and include this series in the submitted paper.

The “explanation” of insufficient time is completely implausible. They had already calculated a Yamal-Urals regional chronology: they could have used the one at hand? And why did they tell Muir Russell that couldn’t “complete” the chronology in time, when they had already done the calculation. If they felt that there were technical issues that disqualified the regional chronology calculated in 2006, why didn’t they report these problems (along with the regional chronology itself) in the article itself and/or to Muir Russell.

Ironically, in East Anglia’s FOI refusal, they argued that release and use of “incomplete” data could result in “incorrect or misapplied conclusions” (apparently disregarding the implications for the admittedly incomplete Yamal chronology applied in Briffa et al 2008):

There is little public interest in the release of unfinished or incomplete data – i.e. does not contain a description of how it was created or why the “selected” methods were chosen – and so does not reflect the full breadth of academic rigour and thought applied to it. The information may well be incorrect, untested, unreviewed and may not accurately reflect the proper outcome of the research. Incorrect or misapplied conclusions could be drawn from the publication of unfinished data and any assessment of the merit of the work should be based upon a final, approved version of the data.

In any event CRU’s evidence that they couldn’t complete the regional chronology in time is not credible on its face. The question of the regional chronology was raised in my submission and Muir Russell’s negligent failure to examine this topic means that questions that should have resolved continue to linger.

Polar Urals
Instead of disclosing to Muir Russell that they had already calculated a Yamal-Polar Urals regional chronology (and explaining their reasons for withholding it), CRU spent much of their energy in their submissions attacking my supposed endorsement of an update to the Polar Urals chronology.

The issue in older Climate Audit posts was the failure to report the updated Polar Urals chronology, given both the lack of 1000-year chronologies and the discrepancy between the two chronologies in the modern period.

However, after the Climategate dossier proved the existence of a Yamal-Urals regional chronology, the principal issue was the failure to use the Yamal-Urals regional chronology in Briffa et al 2008 or to otherwise report it (not a beauty contest between Yamal and Polar Urals). As noted above, CRU had noted their use of “common high-frequency variability” as their test whether to include data in a regional chronology. Polar Urals and Yamal have strong common high-frequency variability, expressed by Hantemirov and Shiyatov (2002) as follows:

Initially, a 1250-year chronologyfrom the Polar Ural mountains (Shiyatov, 1995) was used as a ‘master’ dating series as well. There is a high degree of similarity in the annual variability of radial tree growth between the Yamal and Polar Urals areas because of their proximity (about 200 km).

CRU was well aware of the common high-frequency variability between the two sites: this was presupposed in their development and analysis of the “Yamal-Urals” regional chronology. Astonishingly, instead of reporting on these results in their October 2009 website article or in their submissions to Muir Russell, CRU claimed that they had “never undertaken any reanalysis” of Polar Urals: (June 17, p.7):

We had never undertaken any reanalysis of the Polar Urals temperature reconstruction subsequent to its publication in 1995.”

Obviously this assertion is refuted by the presence of both the original Polar Urals data and the “update” in the FOI list.

“All the Data”
As shown above, there are obvious and visible difference between the regional and Yamal chronologies. However, in their website response to Climate Audit in October 2009 and to their submissions to Muir Russell, CRU claimed that there was little difference between their Yamal chronology and a chronology using “all the data”. How can these contradictory claims be reconciled?

The graphic below shows compares core counts of CRU’s “all the data” (violet) to the core counts of the Yamal-Urals regional chronology that CRU had calculated in 2006. Evidently, contrary to their representations, CRU did not use “all the data” after all.

Figure 5. Core Counts: Yamal (cyan); additional cores in CRU 2009 (violet); withheld 2006 regional chronology (salmon).

In their original statement on Yamal, CRU stated:

We would never select or manipulate data in order to arrive at some preconceived or regionally unrepresentative result.

Undoubtedly this is how they think of themselves. But their history shows that they have had a strong sense of what their results “should” look like and have, on other occasions, selected and manipulated data so that their results accord with “preconceived” results.

The “Briffa bodge” was a completely arbitrary “adjustment” of Tornetrask MXD data so that the answer made ‘sense’. The “Briffa bodge” was the predecessor to the “very artificial adjustments” described in Climategate source code documents.

Likewise, CRU’s decision to “hide the decline” by deleting MXD data after 1960 was evidently done so that the MXD temperature reconstruction accorded with preconceived ideas. This was done by CRU themselves and was a different manipulation of data than “Mike’s Nature trick (as described in more length in previous CA posts.)

Had their Yamal-Urals regional chronology had been in accordance with their previous results, I am completely convinced that they would have used it in Briffa et al 2008 and/or their October 2009 online article without a second thought. My surmise is that the apparent failure of the (still withheld) Yamal-Urals regional chronology to accord with their expectations caused CRU not to use it in Briffa et al 2008. I realize that this is a harsh statement, but it’s what I think. Muir Russell had an opportunity and obligation to investigate, but unfortunately failed to do so.

The response of IPCC defenders is always that none of this “matters”, that they can “get” a Stick using other data and that CRU’s withholding of the Yamal-Urals chronology is no more than punctuation errors.

Climategate 2 emails contain an interesting vignette between Mann and Andy Revkin on this point. Revkin relied on the “without tree rings” reconstruction of Mann et al 2008 to re-assure himself that the picture was “solid”

needless to say, seems the 2008 pnas paper showing that without tree rings still solid picture of unusual recent warmth, but McIntyre is getting wide play for his statements about Yamal data-set selectivity.

As CA readers know, Mann’s “solid” reconstruction without tree rings was a mirage: it depended on Mann’s use of contaminated Tiljander data, used upside down. In the SI to Mann et al 2009, Mann conceded that his no-dendro reconstructions did not validate without contaminated data (but, unfortunately, did not notify PNAS or retract the earlier paper). Nor did Mann notify Revkin of the then pending admissions, instead allowing Revkin to continue to believe that the Mann et al 2008 no-dendro reconstruction was “solid”. In his recent book, Mann made no reference to the apparent concessions on the invalidity of Mann et al no-dendro reconstructions, instead claiming that Mann et al 2008 had used “objective” methods to validate the contaminated data.


  1. Mike Roddy
    Posted May 6, 2012 at 1:35 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Even if this essay is correct- a call that, not being a climate scientist, I am not qualified to make- it doesn’t make any difference. Here’s why:


    The notion that “The Team” of our top climate scientists are engaged in fraud in order to deceive the public into believing that the world is rapidly warming is quite farfetched, to put it politely. The increases in both CO2 and temperature are dramatic, and unprecedented in human history. This fact is confirmed by hundreds of lines of evidence.

    Steve: I’m familiar with this article and cited in my post. Their derision that the Khadyta river data was located “randomly” was bogus as shown by the FOI. Their no-dendro reconstruction was bogus as it relied on upside down and contaminated data, as also discussed here. The issue of increased CO2 is different than the veracity of these data sets. Personally, I think that CRU’s conduct detracts from the message that concerns you and that it is people like you who should be most concerned about ensuring transparency.

    • TerryMN
      Posted May 6, 2012 at 5:12 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Even if this essay is correct- a call that, not being a climate scientist, I am not qualified to make…

      You could have stopped there.

      • Edgar Walsh
        Posted May 13, 2012 at 4:22 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Do could McIntyre.

    • Posted May 6, 2012 at 5:33 PM | Permalink | Reply

      “unprecedented in human history”

      you aren’t following properly.

    • Don McIlvin
      Posted May 6, 2012 at 9:19 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Roddy the temperature climb from the bottom of the last ice age to beginning of the Holocene was a far more profound event in Human history than what has occurred in the last century. The recent warming of the last 50 years is mere noise by comparison. So saying the recent warming is unprecedented in human history is simply incorrect.

      When I look at the Real Climate case, why do so many graphs start at the bottom of the LIA, and then show recovery. It conveniently omits the MWP. One can argue the peak of the MWP but omitting it entirely is deceptive.

      The rebound from the last ice age was obviously not driven by AGW. Neither was most of the increase from the bottom of the LIA. The case for AGW can be argued in the 20th Century, not so much before that. Conflating naturally caused warming and whatever the deal is with the last 50 years hardly proves the case.

      Nearly all skeptics and believers agree some warming has occurred, and the increased CO2 will accelerate that. The dispute is over how much is CO2 driven, and how much (if at all) to weight vapor feedback, etc.

      The article you reference beats down a straw man. So what!

      Also, if you actually read Steve’s article (this comment is in reference too) and read the first 1/3 of the RC article before the graphs you can see claims of ‘no proof’ are based on the fact that they with-held the proof, and now with the FOIA producing the data, I see some claims Steve made proven correct.

      • barry
        Posted May 14, 2012 at 10:50 PM | Permalink | Reply

        When the mainstream speak of warming being unprecedented in human history, they are not talking about magnitude.

        The speed of warming/GHG increase, and the global coherence of the warming at the current rates, are not matched (as far as one can tell from proxy data) at any other time in human history, and more to the point, not matched at any time since civilization arose, and we became locked into states, countries and cities with wide-spread, large scale infrastructure required to support heavy population densities. That infrastructure is reliant on a stable climate. The long, slow changes of thousands of years would make for easier adaption than the same change over a few hundred.

        The warming from the last glacial maximum to interglacial was about 5000 years, with a global temperature change of ~5C. The seas rose by 130 metres. If we take the low end of climate sensitivty, and predict a 1C change every century from BAU, then we are warming 10 times as fast.

        The CO2 rise of previous interglacials has been 100ppm over several thousand years. Humanity has caused the same increase (with the biosphere absorbing half of industrial output) over a mere 250 years. We’ve increased the atmospheric content of CO2 20 times faster than natural processes over human history, and civilization has never been tested by significant changes (currently 40% increase) in atmospheric CO2 levels.

        We’re running an experiment from which we cannot escape, and we have no idea of the severity of the outcomes. (Although some so-called skeptics will advise that – fer sure! – there will be minimal disruption if any. It seems it’s ok to stress uncertainty in the science except when it comes to low-balling climate sensitivity/impacts)

        • Curious Caroline
          Posted May 15, 2012 at 1:04 AM | Permalink

          snip – too general

        • RomanM
          Posted May 15, 2012 at 11:16 AM | Permalink

          barry [Bold mine]:

          The speed of warming/GHG increase, and the global coherence of the warming at the current rates, are not matched (as far as one can tell from proxy data) at any other time in human history, and more to the point, not matched at any time since civilization arose, and we became locked into states, countries and cities with wide-spread, large scale infrastructure required to support heavy population densities.

          What are these proxies that have the temporal resolution, global representation, AND the requisite precision to make such a determination? Pointing at hockey sticks calculated using poor proxy series and questionable methodology does not offer convincing evidence on this issue, particularly when the standard errors are substantially underestimated.

          In this particular situation, a failure to address Steve’s conjecture that series which used further relevant data could have been calculated and tacitly rejected without apparent reason introduces a further serious question of confirmation bias. IMHO, the historical temperature record is far from being determined from proxies with an accuracy sufficient enough to use the “unprecedented” mantra.

        • barry
          Posted May 15, 2012 at 5:50 PM | Permalink

          Your argument is that Steve’s work demonstrates the unreliability of millennial reconstructions such that it is illegitimate to posit the pace of past climate change relative to recent (centennial-scale in my mind), even with the qualification, “as far as we know.” I think that’s unreasonable, but if it wasn’t then I would say that Don’s unqualified and unnuanced statements are therefore wronger than mine.

        • RomanM
          Posted May 15, 2012 at 6:37 PM | Permalink

          barry, I assume that you are replying to me even though you haven’t indicated that the browser indicates that you are replying to yourself.

          You missed my argument completely and fixated instead on the fact that Steve’s post is more of a consideration that a chronology will be the result of the specific choices made by the researcher. Publication of these choices and the revelation or concealment of what transpired in the process of creating the reconstruction (which obviously affects the credibility of the result) is also a choice of the researcher and will have a role in how the result will be interpreted by the reader.

          My basic point was that the properties of proxies themselves and the current methodology used (or misused, as the case might be) are not of a sufficient level of precision to make the determination that you suggest not only for the actual temperatures themselves, but even more so for the rates of change in those temperatures since the standard errors (and by implication, the corresponding uncertainties) of those rates will generally be greater than for the original temperatures themselves. To be able to determine the magnitude of changes in annual, decadal or even greater time periods with the certainty you claim is not possible if all of the factors involved are properly evaluated. No amount of hubris on the part of an overly confident researcher will change that fact.

          With regard to Don’s comment, your criticism does not apply because the changes in temperature were substantially greater, lasted for a much longer period than has the current warming and had a strong impact on subsequent history. The changes occurred over a longer time span, but to assume that they must have been slowly occurring over prolonged periods rather than in shorter term steps with magnitudes comparable to or greater than the warming recovery of the last three or four centuries sounds like pure speculation.

    • Espen
      Posted May 7, 2012 at 3:13 AM | Permalink | Reply

      It’s amazing how often the “Hey ya mal” post at RC shows up in discussions like this one, despite the fact that all the shown hockey sticks either start in the middle of the LIA or contain questionable or completely wrong upside down data.

    • stan
      Posted May 7, 2012 at 7:07 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Mr. Roddy,

      When integrity is demonstrated to be absent, nothing else matters. It isn’t necessary to establish anything more. “falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus”

    • Mike Mangan
      Posted May 7, 2012 at 8:36 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Roddy is right about one thing. It doesn’t make any difference. The IPCC does not care. The high falutin’ academies do not care. Andy Revkin does not care. The Team doesn’t care what you say anymore. Your best efforts have led to naught. They operate with impunity. You’re a tiger, but a toothless one.

      • mrmethane
        Posted May 7, 2012 at 8:47 AM | Permalink | Reply

        and you’re an Oh, never mind.

      • Mike Mangan
        Posted May 8, 2012 at 4:03 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Like I said, with impunity…


        Kind of like, you win your squash tournament and the losing team flips you off and walks out with your trophy.

      • ghl
        Posted May 8, 2012 at 6:13 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Far from toothless. Keep chewing on the elephant, eventually it’s guts will fall out.

        • Edgar Walsh
          Posted May 13, 2012 at 4:34 AM | Permalink

          Steve has had one thing on his mind from the start, proving that there is not a rapid rise in temperatures happening. He can’t do that, so he has to make do with endless bluster and obfuscation. BEST was the ‘great white hope’, and it crowned the IPCC the winner.

          Steve: I’ve never taken issue with the view that it’s warmer now than the 19th century. And while I strongly believed that CRUTEM data should be transparent, I consistently urged readers not to expect that there were any “smoking guns” in the data. My interest has consistently been in whether the proxy reconstructions show that it’s warmer now than in the 11th century. The Berkeley study had nothing to do with this.

        • seanbrady
          Posted May 15, 2012 at 9:03 AM | Permalink

          “Steve has had one thing on his mind from the start, proving that there is not a rapid rise in temperatures happening.”

          Edgar can you provide some links to quotes by Steve supporting your contention? If your contention is correct there ought to be many of them, going all the way back to “the start”.

      • Duane Oldsen
        Posted May 9, 2012 at 12:38 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Friar Tommaso Caccini could have once said the same.

        But who stands high in history?

      • geronimo
        Posted May 9, 2012 at 4:38 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Mike, I agree with you about nobody caring, that’s true, but what’s happening here is the records are being kept on what I regard as a public scandal. The public are blind to the scandal which is being ignored by the political and climate establishment’s to push political and social agendas for an unelectable group of environmentalist lobbies. When they become concerned that they are being taxed to the jaxi and there no catastrophes occur on the scale predicted they, the public, will demand to know who was responsible for this state of affairs. Steve and others are detailing the evidence, in Steve’s case of the manipulation of data to provide the public and politicians with a picture of the temperature record suitable to cause alarmism. Others are more difficult to pin down, because they are using computer models and claiming they can foretell the future “weather” with them. Not climate you’ll note, but weather, because the forecasts droughte, crop failures, increase in tropical storms, volcanic eruptions, mosquito deaths, ice-sheets melting, rising sea levels are all manifestations of climate AND weather. The Team are using real world data, which is easy to check, but do everything in their power to hide the data from prying eyes.

    • morebrocato
      Posted May 8, 2012 at 6:10 AM | Permalink | Reply

      So the issues are..?

      1. The failure to include ‘all’ the regional core data (larger than just the Yamal sample) to get an accurate proxy picture … vs … the statement that data like KHAD was ‘indefensibly anamalous’ to be considered as representatitve of the area..

      2. The indictment that the incompleteness/erroneous of the Yamal data set renders the proxy inaccurate (and that a more accurate proxy would be less ‘Hockey-sticky’ … vs … the retort that ‘it doesn’t matter’ what it says in Yamal because there are all sorts of other valid proxys that ‘confirm’ the Hockey-sticky-ness

      …although SM has repeatedly stated these ‘confirming’ tree proxies do not exist apart from Yamal, (which this post says does not confirm unless a non-full sample is used)

      Is it possible that a conversation can be framed where only the research methods and results involving Yamal are discussed– and only conclusions about the validity of Yamal (in isolation to everything else) are generated? It seems like the tendency is to either point to other proxies and highlight their climate signal for global warming (which is not the specific point of this exercse), or to point to other proxies and talk about how they evidence the sort of signal Yamal ‘should have’ as well in order to be valid (which is also not the specific point either).

    • geronimo
      Posted May 9, 2012 at 4:52 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Mike: “The notion that “The Team” of our top climate scientists are engaged in fraud in order to deceive the public into believing that the world is rapidly warming is quite farfetched, to put it politely.”

      Perhaps you should take a look at the climategate emails. There’s nothing innocent in hiding declines, nor in asking people to delete emails that are the subject of a FOI. Nor is there anything innocent about producing a scientific paper and refusing to let anyone have access to the data and metadata that led to the paper’s scientific conclusions. The latter is an affront to science, and should be robustly denounced by everyone in science, yet it isn’t, one has to wonder why there’s a silence on this.

      “The increases in both CO2 and temperature are dramatic, and unprecedented in human history. This fact is confirmed by hundreds of lines of evidence.”

      Mike, small correction, you’ve missed out “independent” between “of” and “line”, you’ll be receiving a rebuke from the Head for forgetting your, if you’ll excuse the pun, lines.

      I don’t know who you’re aiming this at anyway, whose denying CO2 has increased and temperature has gone up? Surely the “evidence” should be that temperature is tightly connected to CO2 in the atmosphere, and that’s the whole point of the hockeystick isn’t it, that past temperatures couldn’t have risen because it’s CO2 that causes warming and the CO2 levels have been steady around 280ppm for thousands of years.

  2. Posted May 6, 2012 at 1:38 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Awesome Steve!

    It didn’t make sense that recent Yamal counts weren’t higher. I have enough experience to point out to others that it is common that tree ring data has more samples in recent years – cause it is easy to find living trees.

    If hide the decline wasn’t obvious enough before, this ought to finish the story nicely.

  3. Posted May 6, 2012 at 1:44 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Glad to see you back indeed
    And as before, you have them treed
    Dogfish Yamal would be a shark
    But core counts bite beneath the bark

    They fall into this trap again
    And point at you, and jeer and grin
    But facts and history attest
    Their methods sure are not the best

    ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

    • Posted May 7, 2012 at 5:42 AM | Permalink | Reply

      We’ve read about the hockey CRU
      And Phil Jones neck of brass
      Now McKintyre’s grabbed the stick
      And shoved it up their

      Ask no questions, tell no lies
      Will the next job for the CRU
      Be dishing up the fries?

      Sir Ted has got a tricky job
      To cover up the mess
      “Tell the CRU to shut their gob
      We never will confess!”

      “Hide the Yamal data
      And cover that decline!
      Tell the press the Alma Mater
      Will carry on just fine.”

      But you should know Sir Edward
      With all your old boy clout
      That when it comes to science
      The truth will always out.

      • Posted May 7, 2012 at 5:55 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Along the Climate Audit trail
        The urban and the rurals
        A few at CRU have gone quite pale
        Steve’s got ‘em by the Urals!

  4. theduke
    Posted May 6, 2012 at 1:49 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Looks like all the FOI work is beginning to pay off. Very impressive, Steve.

  5. Stephen Richards
    Posted May 6, 2012 at 2:27 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Welcome back Mr McIntyre.

    • Posted May 7, 2012 at 6:20 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Seconded,good to see you back in the saddle Steve.

      This is the best answer to the likes of Mann and Jones. You don’t need to meet Mann in his realm of fiction writing, just stick to auditing the data.

  6. Solomon Green
    Posted May 6, 2012 at 2:44 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Congratulations. It was worth persevering. If the science is really settled why the need for deception and disimulation?

    • dearieme
      Posted May 6, 2012 at 4:01 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Indeed! I know only a partial answer: some people lie automatically, even when there is no reason to suppose they’ll gain from it. Since I find it hard to believe that all “Climate Scientists” share that character defect, I conclude that they are trying to deceive us to gain an advantage. For some, no doubt, it was to spare their blushes when they realised that their incompetence earlier in their careers was going to be revealed unless they cheated. Others are doubtless crooks through and through. And some, perhaps, are just innocently mistaken and unusually gullible.

  7. michael hart
    Posted May 6, 2012 at 2:46 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Less familiar readers, like myself, might perhaps be briefly confused by the reference to McKitrick in the Muir Russell submissions. Would it be worth while also inserting your name in parentheses?

  8. JAK
    Posted May 6, 2012 at 2:47 PM | Permalink | Reply

    What a pity that practitioners of science (not scientists) have sunk to levels that the science has to be judged by whether or not FOI is granted! Denial of data and lack of reproducibility of results is the end of science for which all “credit” goes to CRU. What a sham.

  9. Pat Frank
    Posted May 6, 2012 at 2:53 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Following on in the inspired motif of Jefferson Airplane’s precocious musical commentary on paleo-climate reconstructions, it seems like the first line in someone to love fits the descriptive bill of the conclusion forced on paleo-believers by Steve M.’s analysis.

    I wonder, also, what the difference is between being untruthful and being deceptive. They’re represented as “and/or” throughout.

    One wonders whether Muir Russell had closed-door meetings with Briffa and PD Jones, wherein he asked, ‘OK, guys, did you do that Yamal update, or did you not?’ What, after all, did Muir Russell know and when did he know it? Did he merely decide there were closet doors he very much didn’t want to open? If so, does that make his inquiry deceptive or does that make it untruthful? Certainly a studied ignorance is not the result of technical incompetence; though it might be the result of ethical incompetence.

    Regardless, what’s now certain is that scientific integrity was thoroughly honored in its unfailingly continuous breach by Briffa, Jones, and Muir Russell.

    One wonders whether class action suits have standing in the UK. It seems to me Steve M. has thoroughly proven that public interest has been systematically violated by Jones, Briffa, and Muir Russell, and by the UEA itself. Tax-funded, all.

    Steve: the Muir Russell didn’t even bother attending the one interview (April 9) in which Jones and briffa were supposed to be asked about paleoclimate. oNLY Geoffrey Boulton and Clarke attended. It appears that they never interviewed Tim Osborn. Or Briffa separately from Jones.

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted May 6, 2012 at 6:13 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Re: Pat Frank (May 6 14:53),
      For readers unfamiliar with the lyrics, the aptness to Mannian statistics is:

      one pill makes you larger
      and one pill makes you small
      and the pill that Mother gave you doesn’t do anything at all

      i.e. paleoclimate reconstruction methodology.

      • Dave
        Posted May 7, 2012 at 6:06 PM | Permalink | Reply

        And I thought the lines you were referencing were ‘When logic and proportion/Have fallen sloppy dead’…

        Steve: feed the stick, feed the stick.

  10. Posted May 6, 2012 at 3:35 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Reblogged this on Climate Ponderings.

  11. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted May 6, 2012 at 3:56 PM | Permalink | Reply

    SteveM, I think sometimes that in your point by point analyses and detailed history of these temperature reconstructions, we need to step back and take a look at the entire picture and what it might inform.

    Your Yamal-Urals Regional Chronology series looks much like many other ho-hum proxy series I have viewed or graphed myself – and I might add viewed better without the spaghetti of other series and the instrumental record interfering with my view.

    You note the excuses given for excluding data by the those doing reconstructions, and while I would suppose lawyerly arguments could be put forth in attempts to justify and criticize those actions – or better inactions, the real question is why have not these scientists dealt with these issues and data? I would not expect answers from those scientists or the climate science community or the IPCC, but I know that that lack of answers puts the results and conclusions from temperature reconstructions very much in doubt. It also means that obtaining a reasonable view of proxy performances in reconstructions requires being skeptical of what is published and doing extensive analyses of the data to arrive at one’s own conclusions.

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted May 6, 2012 at 4:07 PM | Permalink | Reply

      I think that there are a variety of reasons why paleoclimate practitioners are unwilling to look squarely at the validity of proxy reconstructions: intellectual commitment, mediocre-to-poor math skills, reliance on computer recipes rather than an understanding of the statistics, tribalism,….

    • Bill Drissel
      Posted May 6, 2012 at 5:39 PM | Permalink | Reply

      KF 2012-5-6, 3:56 PM>… “lack of answers puts the results and conclusions from temperature reconstructions very much in doubt. It also means that obtaining a reasonable view of proxy performances in reconstructions requires being skeptical of what is published and doing extensive analyses of the data to arrive at one’s own conclusions.”

      What a sad situation.

      Bill Drissel
      Grand Prairie, TX

  12. dougieh
    Posted May 6, 2012 at 4:01 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Good to see you getting the info to vindicate your previous thoughts Steve.
    for anyone who hasn’t already seen pics & comments (1st of many) of the Yamal area –

    ps. still think treeline history/mapping gives more climate info than rings (again covered by Steve on previous posts,maybe?)

    Steve: thanks for recalling this picture. inserted into post.

  13. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted May 6, 2012 at 4:03 PM | Permalink | Reply

    “Nor did Mann notify Revkin of the then pending admissions, instead allowing Revkin to continue to believe that the Mann et al 2008 no-dendro reconstruction was “solid”. ”

    I suspect Revkin believes what he wants to believe and when he reads a contrary view on a matter he knows where to go to obtain the “correct” answer. It might even come down to for him something like: Who are you going to believe, Mann or your lying eyes?

  14. R.S.Brown
    Posted May 6, 2012 at 4:16 PM | Permalink | Reply


    Re: Jefferson Airplane and dendrochronology

    Another lyrical line comes from the Airplane’s Ice Cream Phoenix tune…

    “You say it now but the human crowd doesn’t mean sh*t to a tree.”

    BTW, will you be posting any links covering your CRU FOI request and subsequent
    appeal to the ICO ?

  15. Ted Swart
    Posted May 6, 2012 at 4:23 PM | Permalink | Reply

    It seems to me that if the FOI requests had been honoured, when they were originally made, it would have speeded up the process of injecting sound statistics and genuine science into the climate science arena.
    I suppose it is a case of better late than never and both a morale booster and a testament to the dogged persistence which Steve has displayed.

  16. Andy
    Posted May 6, 2012 at 4:55 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Another fantastic blog post, well done!

    I suspect the cause of all this is an initial small lie, to cover intellectual mistakes, snowballing into a desire not to lose face, exacerbated by greater lies and compounded by group think.

    Can you choose your cores from those sampled and get any trend you wish?

    I cannot wait for the next post.

  17. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted May 6, 2012 at 5:24 PM | Permalink | Reply

    “The notion that “The Team” of our top climate scientists are engaged in fraud in order to deceive the public into believing that the world is rapidly warming is quite farfetched, to put it politely. The increases in both CO2 and temperature are dramatic, and unprecedented in human history. This fact is confirmed by hundreds of lines of evidence.

    Mike, if you are not merely a troll, might I remind you that the recent warming was not what is in contention here on this thread, but rather whether the proxies can respond accurately to the modern warming and thus past warmings. I invited you to comment before without a response, but one more attempt: What are your views on the added data that SteveM has graphed here?

  18. Posted May 6, 2012 at 5:30 PM | Permalink | Reply

    It took a very long time, but the success is well worth the wait. This is a very well put together history of the events around the FOI. Well done!

    The initial mistakes and guilty cover-ups grew and grew. Now they just want to save face. Their whole structure is crumbling

    There is more to come out of this and we are waiting eagerly for it.

  19. Posted May 6, 2012 at 5:47 PM | Permalink | Reply

    The next step will be to claim that somehow the nuance of the amazing rcs method is to blame for the lack of enzyte power. After all, fitting an exponential curve to data which looks exponential requires only an expert touch. Tweak here, tweak there and BAM the hoops old hs is back.

    • Posted May 6, 2012 at 5:48 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Internet is down. iPhone replaced good with hoops

    • Kenneth Fritsch
      Posted May 7, 2012 at 9:48 AM | Permalink | Reply

      “The next step will be to claim that somehow the nuance of the amazing rcs method is to blame for the lack of enzyte power. After all, fitting an exponential curve to data which looks exponential requires only an expert touch. Tweak here, tweak there and BAM the hoops old hs is back.”

      Jeff, I had the same thought and I think there has already been some work in that direction. Instead of publishing all the data and letting the chips fall where they may, I get the idea that some of those scientists working with proxies and particularly the “contrary” proxies look for methodological changes that will produce “better” results. As I recall the article I saw dealing with RCS revisions produced some changes, but left the divergence evident – even though a claim was made that this method could fix the problem.

      • Posted May 7, 2012 at 10:30 AM | Permalink | Reply

        I think there was some commentary along those lines in the CG emails as well. I haven’t had time but I also recall a Briffa critique of SteveM for not applying RCS correctly. While Briffa’s rationale was a reasonable assumption, there really hasn’t been much done to say what IS correct. I really do bet that they are working away at a new “standardization” method to get the Yamal HS back right now.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted May 7, 2012 at 10:41 AM | Permalink

          I’m sure that they are. It will come out on the last day of eligibility for citation in AR5. Tim Osborn is the Lead Author of the section. Osborn will immediately incorporate the new results in AR5.

        • Green Sand
          Posted May 7, 2012 at 12:33 PM | Permalink

          Re: Jeff Condon (May 7 10:30),

          Well they have been working on “Divergence”

          “The Dendroclimatic Divergence Phenomenon: reassessment of causes and implications for climate reconstruction”

          Keith Briffa (PI),
          Tim Osborn,
          Tom Melvin
          12/09 – 05/12

          “Palaeoclimate reconstructions extend our knowledge of how climate varied in times before expansive networks of measuring instruments became available. These reconstructions are founded on an understanding of theoretical and statistically-derived associations acquired by comparing the parallel behaviour of palaeoclimate proxies and measurements of varying climate. Inferences about variations in past climate, based on this understanding, necessarily assume that the associations we observe now hold true throughout the period for which reconstructions are made. This is the essence of the uniformitarian principle. In some northern areas of the world, recent observations of tree growth and measured temperature trends appear to have diverged in recent decades, the so called “divergence” phenomenon. There has been much speculation, and numerous theories proposed, to explain why the previous temperature sensitivity of tree growth in these areas is apparently breaking down. The existence of divergence casts doubt on the uniformitarian assumption that underpins a number of important tree-ring based (dendroclimatic) reconstructions. It suggests that the degree of warmth in certain periods in the past, particularly in medieval times, may be underestimated or at least subject to greater uncertainty than is currently accepted. The lack of a clear overview of this phenomenon and the lack of a generally accepted cause had led some to challenge the current scientific consensus, represented in the 2007 report of the IPCC on the likely unprecedented nature of late 20th century average hemispheric warmth when viewed in the context of proxy evidence (mostly from trees) for the last 1300 years. This project will seek to systematically reassess and quantify the evidence for divergence in many tree-ring data sets around the Northern Hemisphere. It will establish a much clearer understanding of the nature of the divergence phenomenon, characterising the spatial patterns and temporal evolution. Based on recent published and unpublished work by the proposers, it has become apparent that foremost amongst the possible explanations is the need to account for systematic bias potentially inherent in the methods used to build many tree-ring chronologies including many that are believed to exhibit this phenomenon.”

          http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/research/ and scroll down

          see also:-

          Recent CRU Grants

        • Kenneth Fritsch
          Posted May 7, 2012 at 4:05 PM | Permalink

          “Based on recent published and unpublished work by the proposers, it has become apparent that foremost amongst the possible explanations is the need to account for systematic bias potentially inherent in the methods used to build many tree-ring chronologies including many that are believed to exhibit this phenomenon.”

          Coming soon at your nearest IPCC enclave: a new and exciting RCS.

          Would an RCS bias mean that all the previous dendro work should be redone or will it mean that a small number of examples will be reworked and then a hand wave that divergences no longer exists and let us move on? Of course, we would still have the non dendro divergences that were noted in Mann (08) and to be observed by anyone who has viewed a number of single proxy series.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted May 8, 2012 at 4:57 PM | Permalink

          I’ve tagged some past posts on RCS: http://www.climateaudit.org/tag/rcs.

        • Skiphil
          Posted Feb 27, 2013 at 1:25 PM | Permalink

          What a relief! I find that Briffa and Osborn have been busy with another grant that gets them to March 2013, so we can be confident that all will be cleared up soon:


          Dendroclimatic Divergence Phenomenon: reassessment of causes and implications for climate reconstruction
          Keith Briffa
          Tim Osborn May 2010 – March 2013

      • Matt Skaggs
        Posted May 10, 2012 at 2:59 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Here is the claim Kenneth is referring to (4450, 12 Oct 08, Keith Briffa):

        “the divergence is only apparent (at the NH average scale) in the smoothed i.e. lower-frequency domain. You need to smooth the tree-ring records and the temperature to see it. However, the divergence is largely an artifact of using curve fitting (i.e. based on least-squares fitted regression lines or functions) to estimate the unwanted (biological) growth trend in the tree-ring data. These fits are influenced by climate warming signals in the recent data , and this signal is inadvertently removed in the standardising process. When non-curve fitting methods are used (such as RCS) this problem is largely removed.”

        But they have a pretty good grasp on it already (or think they do). The project actually has a different purpose. Here is the real reason (2990, 14 Nov 08, Keith Briffa):

        “Dear Hakan [Grudd],
        This is a request from us in the hope of getting your support and collaboration for a project we are submitting to the UK NERC, concerned with the “divergence” issue. We would be really pleased if you feel you could support this. It is aimed at providing Tom with a salary for the next 30 months. Please see the attached letter for more details.
        Keith. Tim and Tom”

  20. KnR
    Posted May 6, 2012 at 5:49 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Its continues to amaze to see how very rubbish the very foundations of the AGW scare are. Although its ‘the Team ‘ who take most blame . You cannot ignore the silence of the very people who should act as gatekeepers on this and who should call out such poor practice/, and that is the wider scientific community and through this silence stand a very good chance of making a very big rod for there own backs .

  21. Chris Degiorgio
    Posted May 6, 2012 at 6:04 PM | Permalink | Reply

    God, I’ve missed you, Steve.

    • Robert Christopher
      Posted May 8, 2012 at 7:10 AM | Permalink | Reply

      We have not been disappointed.

      It was the calm before the storm, again!

  22. Steve McIntyre
    Posted May 6, 2012 at 6:04 PM | Permalink | Reply
      #vaganov data from http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/people/briffa/yamal2009/data/vaganovetal1996.zip
    #metadata transcribed from FOI 	
    #chronologies for Briffa 2000, 2008 
    	  loc= "http://www.climateaudit.info/data/tree/crn/cru/yamal_2000.crn.tab"
    	  download.file(loc, "temp",mode="wb");  load("temp")
      	loc= "http://www.climateaudit.info/data/tree/crn/cru/yamal_2008.crn.tab"
    	  download.file(loc, "temp",mode="wb");  load("temp")
    	tsp(yamal08) #-202 1996
    #measurement data for FOI list
    	Tree=rep(list(NA),K); names(Tree)=infob$id
    	for (i in 1:K) {
    	  loc= paste("http://www.climateaudit.info/data/tree/rwl/briffa2006/",infob$id[i],".rwl.tab",sep="")
    	  download.file(loc, "temp",mode="wb")
    sapply(Tree, function(A) range(A$year) )
    #     russ119w russ061w russ064w russ002 russ123w russ180w russ001 pou_la polurula  pll yamalAD russ035w  plr
    #[1,]     1603     1674     1630    1696     1588     1828    1570    914      778 1557    -202     1782 1609
    #[2,]     1990     1991     1990    1969     1990     1994    1968   1990     1892 1992    1996     1990 1992
    #      pdp  plo russ101w russ084w
    #[1,] 1505 1684     1740     1767
    #[2,] 1992 1992     1990     1990
    #make regional dataset
    	for(i in 1:K) work=rbind(work, Tree[[i]]) 
    	nrow(work) #  144706
    	count.rcs=countf(work) #
    	barplot(tapply(work$rw,work$data,mean,na.rm=T) )
    #Figure 1: from IPCC
    #Figure 2: Compare Yamal and Regional Core Counts
    	count=count.rcs;year=c(time(count)); N=length(count)
    	ts.plot(count,col=2,ylim=c(0, 400));
    	polygon(xy.coords(x=c(year,rev(year) ), y=c(count,rep(0,N) ) ),col="salmon",border="red")
    	polygon(xy.coords(x=c(time(yamalcount),rev(time(yamalcount) )) , y=c(yamalcount,rep(0,length(yamalcount))) ),col="cyan",border="cyan")
    	legend("topleft",fill=c("salmon","cyan"),legend=c("Region","Yamal") )
    	title("Core Counts")
    #calculate RCS chronology, adjusting site mean to overall mean after 1600
    	m2=m0=tapply(work$rw[temp],work$data[temp],mean,na.rm=T) ; m0
    	m1= mean(work$rw[temp],na.rm=T); m1 #49.9 #53.9 overall
    	m0= m0/m1
    	work$mean=factor(work$data); levels(work$mean)= m0
    	tapply(work$adj,work$data,mean,na.rm=T) #NOT ALL EQUALL #all equal
    	# 223746128 :  30.68207490 64.73985670  0.01170579 
    	chron2=window(chron2, end=max(time(chron2)[count>=10]) )
    #Figure 3: plot Chronology
    	title("Yamal-Urals Regional Chronology")
    #Figure 4a: compare regional chronology to Yamal
      #scale on 800-1900 (for contrast) 
    	f=function(x) filter.combine.pad(x,truncated.gauss.weights(31))[,2]
    	x= window(yamal08,800); u= mean(window(x,end=1900)); sd0= sd(window(x,end=1900))
    	plot(year,f(scale(x,center=u,scale=sd0)),type="l",col=1,lwd=2,ylab="SD Units")
    	v= mean(window(chron2,end=1900));  sd1= sd(window(chron2,end=1900))
    	legend("topleft",fill=c(1,3),legend=c("Briffa 2008", "Regional- Site Adj"))
    	title("Yamal and Regional Chronologies")
    #Figure 4b: scatter plot
      #png("d:/climate/images/2012/yamal/scatter.png", h=480,w=480)
    	 legend=c("1850-1925","1926-1975","1976-1994"),cex=1.5 )
    	 title("Yamal vs Regional Chronology")
    #Compare to counts in Briffa and Melvin 2009 (CRU website)
      #collate CRU datasets for Yamal
    	for (i in 1:5) {
    	nrow(combo) # [1] 49787
    	barplot(tapply(combo$rw,combo$data,mean,na.rm=T) )
      #Plot Core Counts
    	plot(year,count,type="l",col=2,ylim=c(0, 400),xlim=c(800,2000),xaxs="i");
    	polygon(xy.coords(x=c(year,rev(year) ), y=c(count,rep(0,N) ) ),col="salmon",border="red")
    	polygon(xy.coords(x=c(time(combocount),rev(time(combocount) )) , 
              y=c(combocount,rep(0,length(combocount))) ),col="violet",border="cyan")
    	polygon(xy.coords(x=c(time(yamalcount),rev(time(yamalcount) )) , y=c(yamalcount,rep(0,length(yamalcount))) ),col="cyan",border="cyan")
    	  legend=c("Regional","CRU 2009","Yamal") )
    	title("Core Counts")
  23. Graham Thompson
    Posted May 6, 2012 at 7:52 PM | Permalink | Reply

    snip – OT

  24. Craig Loehle
    Posted May 6, 2012 at 8:02 PM | Permalink | Reply

    The fundamental problem with the regional chronologies is that there is no objective criterion for defining a population. Adding more cores opportunistically is likely to lead to the sharpshooter fallacy–stopping the process of updating when you get the answer you like (that “makes sense”).

    • jim
      Posted May 7, 2012 at 12:06 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Very important point. Paleoclimate reconstructions are founded on selection bias. Sampling frame doesn’t exist in paleoclimate.

      Only experts’ selected chronologies show the signal… GIGO.

    • Posted May 11, 2012 at 11:26 AM | Permalink | Reply

      That’s not correct. Populations defined for RCS purposes can be, and have been, delineated either at the site level, or at the level of a single species over multiple sites.

  25. Mark McNeil
    Posted May 6, 2012 at 8:41 PM | Permalink | Reply

    It’s great to see you back fighting.

  26. Harold Ambler
    Posted May 6, 2012 at 8:50 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Reblogged this on and commented:
    Thw New York Times’ Justin Gillis suggested the other day that climate skeptics have only a single legitimate champion in the person of Richard Lindzen and that he has only a single area of scientific inquiry — clouds — that could possibly bear any fruit. There are many disproofs of Gillis’s appalling piece, but one particularly potent one is iSteve McIntyre’s important blog piece, reblogged here from Climate Audit. Followers of climate science owe it to themselves to read past Climate Audit posts and Andrew Montford’s crucial book “The Hockey Stick Illusion.” Even in the absence of such context, however, the obvious reliance of the Climatic Research Unit from the University of East Anglia (CRU) upon the small, cherry-picked dataset of Yamal tree rings is clearly a tale of scientific incompetence, at best, and fraud, at worst.

  27. jim
    Posted May 6, 2012 at 11:55 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Kudos, Steve.

    Strong work, again.

  28. Richard
    Posted May 7, 2012 at 12:12 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Fantastic work Steve. Don’t go away. You will get traction at some stage. It’s frightening how stubborn and unscientific the team is!

  29. FatBigot
    Posted May 7, 2012 at 12:15 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Pat Frank asked “I wonder … what the difference is between being untruthful and being deceptive”.

    The difference is stark and very important. It is particularly important in the context of the highly disputed area of quasi-science called climatology because conclusions drawn by quasi-scientists who have the ear of politicians have enormous impacts on the lives of all in the West and especially on those of limited means.

    One can be untruthful yet completely honest, this is seen most often when people give their opinion about something or state a conclusion drawn from incomplete facts. Insofar as it is possible to test their opinion or conclusion against known and indisputable facts, it can be said that their assertion is not true – in other words that it is untruthful.

    To be deceptive requires not only an assertion that is not substantiated by fact but also the additional element of an intention to deceive others.

    The easiest person to deceive is often oneself. We see it all the time in people advocating particular causes. They have formed their conclusion and are utterly convinced that facts contrary to their conclusion are irrelevant statistical blips of no consequence.

    In more than thirty years in the law I have seen this countless times. The nicest, kindest, most highly-educated people persuade themselves that something is so and nothing will shift them. A matter arises that some would consider wholly inconsistent with their fixed opinion, yet for them it simply cannot be true. They argue against it and they try to dismiss it through statistical or syntactic analysis simply because their view of the subject is settled regardless of anything that arises later. Such people do not act deceptively or, to put it a different way, dishonestly.

    It troubles me when I read comments on blogs in which people who dedicate their lives to some subject or another are accused of being deceptive. I doubt that many, if any, of them have acted deceptively/dishonestly. My default position is that they must be assumed to believe what they assert until there is evidence that they do not actually hold such a belief. In all the comings-and-goings and comments and counter-comments about the “Climategate” emails I have seen nothing to suggest that the main protagonists do not believe what they say.

    My position, for what it’s worth (which in my opinion is an awful lot, but that just illustrates the point I am making) is that Professors Jones and Briffa have been inconsistent and, at times, irrational in the selection of data they have chosen to use but I am quite unable to conclude that they have intended to deceive anyone. My view, until such time as I read evidence strong enough to justify such a serious allegation, is that they have operated for a long time within a small bubble of like-minded people and cannot currently view or analyse matters otherwise than in accordance with the accepted thinking of that group.

    We should all be very wary of accusing these people of dishonest or dishonourable conduct, no matter how much we feel that their conclusions are not supported by evidence.

    • Pat Frank
      Posted May 7, 2012 at 11:58 AM | Permalink | Reply

      snip – nothing to do with Yamal. Blog policies discourage debating everything at the same time on every thread.

    • Matt Skaggs
      Posted May 7, 2012 at 1:21 PM | Permalink | Reply

      You are partly correct but missing the point. Temp records show that ring width and latewood density should increase in the late 20th century. This and some other factors may cause some cores to be chosen and the others rejected, leading to perhaps unintentional selection bias. That is unfortunate but should not be called dishonesty. Meanwhile, Steve has documented that CRU made claims that were demonstrably false about whether they had received and processed the new data. The circumstances leave a vanishingly small chance that confusion led to the misstatements, subterfuge seems far more likely.

    • theduke
      Posted May 7, 2012 at 3:09 PM | Permalink | Reply

      FatBigot: your argument that they have been untruthful and yet completely honest, and that they have not been deceptive might apply to the actual scientific work they have produced, but will you admit that they have been deceptive and outright conspiratorial in the way they have interpreted–or let others interpret–that work for public consumption?

    • Posted May 9, 2012 at 3:33 PM | Permalink | Reply

      FatBigot: I see no practical distinction to your distinction. Regardless of whether they are True Believers in CAGW or not, the Yamal incident is one more indication that they will act contrary to scientific principles by hiding data that might call their conclusion into doubt. You cannot be more statistically dishonest.

      Contrary to your reading of the Climategate emails, this seems to be the pattern: destroy those who disagree with them. Literally if they can (get them fired, keep them from publishing, keep data out of their hands), or reputationally if that’s all they can do (call them shills of Big Oil, all the while obtaining huge grants from Big Oil). The recent Yamal development is a smoking gun in their glove compartment of their car. If the next FOIA request succeeds, the gun will be shown to have their fingerprints on it.

  30. johanna
    Posted May 7, 2012 at 12:23 AM | Permalink | Reply

    The CAGW climate science community’s uncritical love affair with proxies has got them into trouble again and again. When they get caught out, the response is always the same – even if there is a problem with this study, just look at all these others! The solidity of ‘the science’ is in no way affected by this aberration etc. They use proxies like they use models – the more we have, the better the results, irrespective of quality.

    Possibly my greatest ‘take away’ message from reading this site is that all proxies and proxy studies should be approached with great caution and subjected to rigorous and skeptical analysis. As the old saying goes – there’s many a slip twixt cup and lip. This applies to all science, of course, but ‘proxitology’ seems especially prone to spillages and outright dropping of the cup between data assembly and results.

    Thanks Steve – look forward to more on this as it unfolds.

  31. Frederick Davies
    Posted May 7, 2012 at 1:17 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Is it just me or some of the graphs seem to be compressed horizontally so as to be unviewable?


    • matthu
      Posted May 7, 2012 at 1:55 AM | Permalink | Reply

      “Is it just me or some of the graphs seem to be compressed horizontally so as to be unviewable?”

      No – it’s not just you. I am using Windows 7 with IE8 and some of the graphs are only a couple of millimetres wide – so unviewable in situ. But if you Ctrl-click them they open up in a new tab.

  32. IanH
    Posted May 7, 2012 at 1:18 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Nice to see you back, and want a return you’ve made! I would imagine Muir Russell is repaying his fee as we speek.


  33. valmajkus
    Posted May 7, 2012 at 1:40 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Steve you are amazing, I’ve sent a link to this article to people much more qualified than I am to comment but from a layman’s point of view

    Persistence will prevail

  34. matthu
    Posted May 7, 2012 at 1:59 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I notice that Anthony Watts on WUWT has this development reported under the headline “East Anglia Climatic Research Unit shown to be liars by results of latest FOIA ruling and investigation.”

    What is the best way of ensuring that this reaches the attention of the ‘people who matter’ at UEA? Perhaps a subsequent FOI request can then reveal how this has been handled.

  35. A. Scott
    Posted May 7, 2012 at 2:58 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Steve – thanks for your continued, dogged efforts. It was this exact issue, and your work, that first turned me to a skeptic.

    I can only imagine how frustrating the lies, stonewalling and deceit – from alleged “professionals” must be.

    What always has amazed AND confused me is why, since the very basis of science is “challenge” – having others prove or disprove you work by attempting to duplicate it, the AGW side would exert so much effort to prevent exactly that.

    If they have confidence in their work, it seems there should be no reason to withhold anything from the scientific process of challenge and discovery …

    It seems you’ve put proof to the old adage that some truly cannot see the “forest” for the trees …

  36. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted May 7, 2012 at 3:16 AM | Permalink | Reply

    A Climategate search of ‘money’ brings up many references to the Russian work and their ongoing complaints about late payments from K Briffa. There are some useful emails incidental to this, such as this one from Ed Cook to Kieth Briffa 08:00 AM 5/28/03 -0400 number 1054756929 in part
    ” Hi Keith,
    Okay, here is a zipped archive containing Jan’s ring-width measurement series. The
    directory names are:
    “All” contains files with “all” series; “slope” has those series Jan reckoned had
    curvilinear growth trends; “flat” has those series with linear growth trends; “random”
    are those series that Jan chose not to use. Note that I had to pull out the Mongolia
    data set. I would love to give you it, but Gordon would go nuts if he found out. I don’t
    know any way around this problem.
    The file names are:
    01ath Athabasca
    02bor Boreal
    03cam Camphill
    04que Quebec
    05upp Upper Wright
    06got Gotland
    07jae Jaemtland
    08lau Lauenen (site not used in paper)
    09tir Tirol
    10tor Tornestrask
    11man Mangazeja
    13pol Polar Urals
    14tay Taymir
    15zha Zhaschiviersk
    I can’t put my hands on the derived RCS indices for these sites just now, but I can find
    them if you want them. This at least gives you the basic data and how it was partitioned
    by Jan. I did not participate in this stage of the analysis, so any questions about it
    should be directed to Jan.
    end of email
    This seems to indicate cherry picking, withholding of data, the existence of flat trends and RCS indices derived from ring-width measurement.
    Is this relevant to support your essay?
    The silence from observers/participants such as Ed Cook is yet to be explained.

    • bernie1815
      Posted May 7, 2012 at 7:24 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Can you remind me who Jan is and what he or she has published by way of analysis of this data?

      • Matt Skaggs
        Posted May 7, 2012 at 9:37 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Jan Esper published a dendro chronology that showed considerably more short and medium term variability than the HS. It showed a prominent MWP and LIA, for example, that much better dovetailed with historical records. It was originaly seen as a challenge to the HS, but Esper has remained admirably above the fray as far as I can tell. Mann has claimed that Esper’s reconstruction is less representational of global averages, but in some CG E-mails, Ed Cook clearly does not buy that argument.

        • bernie1815
          Posted May 7, 2012 at 11:35 AM | Permalink

          Matt: Many thanks.

  37. Bill Jamison
    Posted May 7, 2012 at 3:41 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I’ve really missed these types of posts here. Well done Steve!

  38. son of mulder
    Posted May 7, 2012 at 5:40 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Despite your continuing excellent work I’m sure that my tax payer money will continue to fund CRU hokum.

  39. Stacey
    Posted May 7, 2012 at 5:45 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Their consistent use of weasel words shows how discreditable they are.

  40. MarcH
    Posted May 7, 2012 at 6:08 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Yamal FOI Sheds New Light on Flawed Data

    Now that’s a headline worthy of a billboard! Someone pass it on to Heartland.

  41. Jimmy Haigh
    Posted May 7, 2012 at 6:32 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Good to see you back at the coalface. I think we all agree that a blinder has been played…

  42. sierra117
    Posted May 7, 2012 at 6:59 AM | Permalink | Reply


    Hey Mike, consider the fact that Steve even allows you to comment on this blog to express an alternate point of view.

    After many attempts at posting remarks over at Real Climate, I’ve simply given up.

    These weren’t remarks that were inflammatory or abusive; mostly they were questions or alternative perspectives.

    Never a contrary comment made it past the moderator. Nor was there even any evidence that I had attempted to make a comment. Not even my name appeared in the blog (its like RC want to pretend dissenting view don’t exist).

    Both here and at WUWT, Steve and Anthony have a policy of sniping the comment while leaving the author’s name visible (example here from “Graham Thompson”).

    The folk over at RC are not practicing science, they are preaching.

    And until they are prepared to engage in a debate and accept criticism, I (and many like me I suspect) wont take them seriously.

    • Richard
      Posted May 7, 2012 at 7:16 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Exactly my experience on RC. On articles I have enjoyed and thought well done – and there have been few of those – I have posted positive comments and they ace been put up. Anything remotely questioning or expressing an alternative point of view has never got through moderation. Thus, it is no surprise that all comments support the post! No wonder there is a consensus! But on a deeper level this is simply preaching with religious fervour. It certainly it isn’t science.

  43. bernie1815
    Posted May 7, 2012 at 7:16 AM | Permalink | Reply

    The chart of the number of core counts is fascinating and disturbing. Pre-1000 almost all the small number of available cores are used. Within 200 years only 50% (eyeballing the chart)are used. Then after another 300 years the % used goes up again before finally dropping dramatically to the 5% you mentioned. This does not make any sense. I can see discarding cores that seem to behave randomly but why on earth would the % of these change so dramatically and persistently within a short period? In addition, the argument seems to be that there is no “coherent signal” within the cores that have been dropped. I suspect that additional “signals” or factors exist, all be they less convenient.

  44. Dean Gaddy
    Posted May 7, 2012 at 7:36 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I’m an American working in Yamal, based in Novy Urengoy, and if there is climate change imposed by mankind, it’s not visible here. Today is May 7, 18:30, and the temperature is -6C. And there is lots of snow on the ground. Two weeks ago, it was -20C. I have a degree in geology, have paid haphazard attention to the debates, and am confused why the climate models don’t include solar and geothermal activity, in addition to metereologic and ground based readings. And who is to say that this isn’t the norm. Most people don’t know that there is coal in Greenland, which can only be formed in warm temperatures.


    • bernie1815
      Posted May 7, 2012 at 7:52 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Many thanks for the on-site weather report. Your point about coal is well taken. Svalbard/ Spitzbergen, even has a sizable coal mining industry also. Svalbard at 75 deg N is on the same latitude as Northern Greenland, i.e., well north of the Arctic Circle.

    • hagendl
      Posted May 7, 2012 at 2:48 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for the note on coal in Northern Greenland. 600,000 tons of coal were mined between 1927 and 1972 with resource estimates of 100 million tons. Energy and Mineral Resources in Greenland. See also:
      A remote coal deposit revisited: Middle Jurassic coals at Kulhøj, western Germania Land, northeast Greenland Jørgen A. Bojesen-Koefoeda et al. International Journal of Coal Geology Available online 25 April 2012

      The deposits are Middle Jurassic, Callovian, in age and were deposited in a floodplain environment related to meandering river channels. Spores and pollen in the lower fluvial deposits reflect abundant vegetation of ferns along the river banks. In contrast, a sparse spore and pollen flora in the coals show a mixed vegetation of ferns and gymnosperms.

  45. Lady in Red
    Posted May 7, 2012 at 8:52 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Wow. I’m blinded by the glow — ah, the glare — being in the “presence” of Steve McIntyre.

    God moves in mysterious ways. Who’d a thunk it’d take a retired mining engineer pit bull to take out the “climate science” fraudsters. What a story! ….smile…. ….Lady in Red

  46. rational green
    Posted May 7, 2012 at 9:18 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Very good work…but it will NOT be reported by the BBC or the other MSM…until the cru has a response sorry to be a wet fish but there it is.

  47. Stephen Pruett
    Posted May 7, 2012 at 9:26 AM | Permalink | Reply

    “The notion that “The Team” of our top climate scientists are engaged in fraud in order to deceive the public into believing that the world is rapidly warming is quite farfetched, to put it politely.”

    It is not even slightly farfetched. There is tremendous pressure on scientists to selectively utilize data. The thought process goes something like this… Fundamentally, nature makes sense and similar types of data should give similar answers. When new data are not consistent with patterns detected in previous data, it must be due to defects in the new data (sampling errors, mistakes in measurement, odd and persistent regional weather differences, etc.). Scientists are joyful when a clear pattern emerges from data, because it means they have a story to tell to journals, colleagues, funding agencies, and the public. When noise emerges, the story disappears as do the publications, recognition, and funding. There are even famous examples of scientists who followed their intuition and ignored “faulty” data and turned out to be correct (e.g., Milligan and determination of the charge on an electron). So, I am sure you can imagine the temptation to rationalize the exclusion of offending data simply by assuming there is something “wrong” with it. At the time when the decision was made by CRU investigators not to use the additional data, I expect they really thought they had “rigorous scientific reasons” for doing what they did. However, it seems from their reaction to Steve’s comments and requests for data and to FOIA requests, that they realized it would not stand up very well to close scrutiny (and obviously, they aren’t Milligan). Once again, it is the reaction of the Team to scrutiny, more than the original sins (which were mostly forgivable and/or correctable) that indicates there are real problems. Confident scientists with solid data just don’t act like this.

    • Craig Loehle
      Posted May 7, 2012 at 9:41 AM | Permalink | Reply

      People object to the idea of a “conspiracy” to defraud science. But such activities do not require secret meetings or any meetings at all. Let’s take a couple of examples from Psychology. There was a theory about repressed memories in the 1980s/1990s which held that virtually all adult disfunction was the result of childhood sexual abuse. If the adult could not remember it, the therapist could help uncover these repressed memories (ie, convince them it happened). This was a huge movement in the USA and many lives were ruined. The “research” supporting it was totally fake. Likewise, Freudian analysis was never supported by anything but circular reasoning and hand waving. Another example is the belief that people in a vegetative state can be guided to speak using a ouija board type device with a therapists help–totally imaginary. Is 3 enough? The recent scare about pink slime meat (really red meat recovered from scraps with a centrifuge) is a case of mindless panic. Sheeples are everywhere. Fads are ubiquitous. The really good scientist is uninterested in what “everyone else” thinks–but this may not be ideal for grant getting/career advancement.

      • DocMartyn
        Posted May 7, 2012 at 8:18 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Craig, I think a better analogy is looking in a restaurant kitchen and finding rat droppings on the counter, cockroaches on the preparation surfaces, the filters blocked by fat deposits and the utensils unwashed. No it is quite possible that the food prepared in such a kitchen would be tasty, healthful and pathogen free, but it is not a good bet is it?
        The Harry-Read-Me files show how well they have looked after their data and how careful they are with their data handling.

      • Don B
        Posted May 8, 2012 at 6:54 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Craig,this reconstruction may become the new gold standard in climate science:


    • Adam
      Posted May 7, 2012 at 10:06 AM | Permalink | Reply

      No. Just no.

      If a group of scientists were able to falsify such a well known and hugely influential theory, they would be world famous. Scientists are ego maniacs. A flawed theory would be absolutely crushed if new data were to come to light that seriously put that theory to question. Scientists are always trying to out-smart each other.

    • John Slayton
      Posted May 7, 2012 at 11:13 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Yeah, I know: It’s a poor mind can think of but one way to spell a word.

  48. Posted May 7, 2012 at 9:33 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Simple Summary

    I have created what I hope is a simple guide to this accusation of lying and posted it on my blog. I would appreciate it if someone who is more familiar with RCAs and other relevant TLAs and FLAs could check it for me.

  49. Green Sand
    Posted May 7, 2012 at 9:48 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Many, many thanks Mr McIntyre!

    Whitewash has some interesting properties:-

    1. It is always more difficult to apply than envisaged.

    2. When it dries the coverage is always patchy.

    3. It never lasts as long as anticipated.

    4. It requires constant maintenance with further applications.

    5. No matter how skilful the operator it always results in significant personal staining.

  50. Steve McIntyre
    Posted May 7, 2012 at 10:04 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Something that I just noticed.

    Esper et al 2009 (Glob Chg Biol) referred to newer data from Urals (Table S2 No-5): 34 cores dated from 1641 to 2001. This data hasn’t been archived.

    In CG2 (4087), Hantemirov wrote Melvin of CRU on October 4, 2010 saying:

    (following my first Yamal posts) as follows:

    files with living trees data attached, that I use to update Yamal chronology (these data have been used among many others in Esper et al. 2009: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/122374111/abstract?CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0).
    First letters in ID means river (valley):
    TNL – Tanlova-yakha;
    HDT, M, X – Khadyta-yakha;
    POR – Porza-yakha;
    all others – Yadayakhodyyakha

    Re-reading Esper Table S2 (which is not available digitally making assimilation harder), out of longitudinal order in Table S2 (as No 25) is data from Yamal: 120 cores dated from 1580 to 2005. This must be the data set that was sent to CRU in October 2009.

    However, in the 2009 CRU “all the data”, they increased cores from POR from 5 to 12, YAD cores from 5 to 10, did not include TNL cores. Increased Vaganov JAH cores from 2 to 25. And used the Schweingruber Khadyta cores without also including the HDT cores. They ended the analysis in 1996.

    I wonder what the other data looks like.

    I recently asked both Esper and Hantemirov for data, but have received no response. In the past, Esper has never responded to any email, so I’m not optimistic. I asked Rob Wilson to support my request, but Rob refused to get involved and asked that I not copy him on my requests.

    • Lynn Clark
      Posted May 8, 2012 at 3:11 AM | Permalink | Reply

      “October 4, 2010 saying:” should read, “October 4, 2009 saying:”

  51. J Solters
    Posted May 7, 2012 at 10:17 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Reply to FatBigot: Your conclusion that Jones, Briffa et al are simply unable to review or accept another version of facts in opposition to their AGW concept is a total cop out. Of course they understand all of the stated opposition to their data/conclusions in minute detail. The clear evidence is that they foot-drag data release and engage in frontal attack of every skeptical commentator rather than directly address merits of the opposition. There never has been any standard of unbiased objectivity applied to their response to criticism. Your standard of proof that they must be shown to believe the countervailing evidence is true before fraud or deception can be considered is no test at all. You’ve simply set up an unprovable straw man argument and then walked away. Typical lawyerly first shot. Your conclusion will not survive the return volley. Steve has shown the lie. Deal with it.

  52. Mark
    Posted May 7, 2012 at 11:49 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Great work Steve!

    I think you’re right. It started with a lack of rigor and talking themselves into what the data “should” be. Then it snowballed from there fueled by tribalism. It’s easy to fall into that sort of intellectual self-trap. However, at some point most decent people will have a sudden moment of clarity and realize where the slippery slope has led. It’s at this point that true character is revealed. Perhaps this will be just such a moment for someone at UEA or elsewhere in climate science.

  53. Stephen Pruett
    Posted May 7, 2012 at 12:58 PM | Permalink | Reply


    Thanks for the spelling correction and the wonderful quote. As you can see, I have need of it!

  54. Don Keiller
    Posted May 7, 2012 at 1:48 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Great work, as usual, Steve.

    I just love this quote from the Climatic Revision Unit

    “Any assessment of the merit of the work should be based upon a final, approved version of the data.”

    Thanks to you, Steve, we have a very good idea of which version of the data is “final” and “approved”.

  55. Philip Lee
    Posted May 7, 2012 at 2:57 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I wish you would edit this post a bit for readability, both to see that acronyms are called out when they are first used and to link places where procedures (e.g. “RCS calculation”) are described. Such editing would be much appreciated by less “climate science” aware but interested people such as me.

    • Bob Koss
      Posted May 7, 2012 at 4:18 PM | Permalink | Reply

      RCS stands for Regional Curve Standardization which is clear as mud to those unfamiliar with it. The glossary below has links to a fuller description.

      See the left side-bar under Links. There is a glossary of acronyms containing most of the ones used on this site.

      Here it is for your convenience.

  56. Green Sand
    Posted May 7, 2012 at 6:47 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Sorry Mr McIntyre, might be OT but, but:-

    It is not surprising that confusion can reign within an organisation that announces a new initiative by enplaning that it is BETWIXT!

    Betwixt what pray tell?

    I give you BETWIXT:-

    Built EnvironmenT: Weather scenarios for investigation of Impacts and eXTremes

    Development of high-resolution weather scenarios for the EPSRC/UKCIP BKCC initiative

    Enjoy, make of it as you will:-


  57. David Anderson
    Posted May 7, 2012 at 8:02 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Congratulations on this success, and not to detract from it: In light of this partial success it would be interesting to consider the validity of the previous grounds for denying the FOI request.

  58. Lady in Red
    Posted May 7, 2012 at 8:51 PM | Permalink | Reply


    Steve: appreciate the compliment, but a bit flowery for the blog.

  59. mpaul
    Posted May 7, 2012 at 9:30 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I remember the days leading up to Climagate 1 very well. Steve was doing some of his best work exposing the statistical parlor tricks of the Team. The discussion was all about Yamal and YAD06. The Team was feeling the heat.

    I maintain that Climategate II was a Glieck-style false flag operation perpetrated by affiliates of the Team and designed to manufacture evidence in support of the Team’s cover story: namely that Climategate is nothing but an attempt by a shadowy international group to disrupt climate negotiations. The plan was obvious — release a bunch of ho-hum emails on the one year anniversary Climategate I with a cover letter claiming interest in disrupting the climate talks.

    CGII worked brilliantly in diverting people’s attention from the hockey stick and the Hockey Team. Climategate I was the real deal. It was all about Yamal, all about the Hockey Stick and all about the misconduct of a small group of climate scientists who were cooking the books. When CGI first happened, everyone knew it was about Yamal. But now after countless PR operations labelled “investigations” and two false flag operations by the advocacy side, the essence of CG1 has been erased from history.

    I’m hoping that Steve’s new revelations will bring the focus back to where it belongs.

    Steve: Climategate 2 provides even more context. They haven’t received the coverage that they deserve.

    • Posted May 8, 2012 at 4:45 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Too true Steve. I fear my misadventures acted as aversion therapy to some extent. I’ll have to lead of a new round of exposure. I doubt the Norfolk plod will risk a harrassment charge by coming back.

  60. Anthony Watts
    Posted May 7, 2012 at 9:57 PM | Permalink | Reply

    It seems Dr. Mann doesn’t like being asked questions directly:


  61. eqibno
    Posted May 8, 2012 at 1:54 PM | Permalink | Reply

    In the original (and only?) retort concerning the “internet-splice”:

    “Curiously no-one has ever suggested simply grabbing one set of data, deleting the trees you have a political objection to and…”

    would that hve been:

    a- self-revelatory
    b- clairvoyant
    c- a suggestion
    d- a fit of pique
    3- all of the above?

  62. Mike Mangan
    Posted May 8, 2012 at 3:27 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I think it would be a terrific time for you and Andrew Montford to have a sit down with Andy Revkin. See if he would be interested in a nice long interview with you two after scotch and harlots or what ever you Canadians do for relaxation. If you can’t change Andy’s mind that at least closes a path. Some other way will be found to take the smirk off of Mann’s face. Time to break the log jam.
    Scotch and Harlots. That’d be a great pub or blog name.

  63. MikeN
    Posted May 8, 2012 at 3:42 PM | Permalink | Reply

    If ClimateGate was about Yamal, and ClimateGate was the work of a whistleblower, then was FOIA really revealing this extra work that they had denied?

  64. Posted May 8, 2012 at 6:33 PM | Permalink | Reply

    On comparing Steve’s Figure 1 insert and Figure 4 above, I noticed that Yamal runs offscale in Figure 1, taken from AR4 Box 6.4. In Figure 4, the full Briffa 08 Yamal series has a big rise around 1900, then two bumps befor its final meteoric rise, which measures 3.8 times the last decline. But in the detail of the AR4 diagram, the final rise is only 2.1 times the preceding decline before it runs off the chart. I estimate that if the full series were shown, it would end at about 6.1 of the AR4 SD units, i.e. 2.1 SD units above the top of the chart! (Steve’s Figure 4 is scaled to 800-1900, so its SD units are not the same.)

    So the full Yamal HS is much bigger than Mann’s PC1, so implausibly bigger that the authors of AR4 chose to suppress its full extent.

    “Hide the Incline?”

    • Kenneth Fritsch
      Posted May 9, 2012 at 10:47 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Hu, least we forget there have already been examples of “hide the incline”. It was in an earlier Mann et al paper (which I could reference exactly if required) where the authors lopped off the end of a North America TR proxy and added in another – because the former proxy was too inclined late in the series. It was not exactly a hiding though as the authors discussed this procedure and justified it by a hand wave towards CO2 fertilization. They even noted that the TR spurt growth in the proxy “slowed” down later in the series. Must have been a mix of CO2 fertilization and divergence – which by the way if properly applied could explain just about any dendro series ending and by these methods allow the those doing the reconstructions to cut of the series and then add in whatever pleases them.

      It is actions like that one that makes me truly wonder how well the climate science community understands what those arbitrary selections do to the statistical standing of their work. I say the community because there is not a peep out of them when these methods are used in published papers.

      • Kenneth Fritsch
        Posted May 10, 2012 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Hu, this is an excerpt from a post at the Blackboard I made several months ago:

        Also it is good to remember that proxies in the form of tree rings have been shown to over respond to temperature in the recent warming period as well as under respond as in the divergence problem. We have the Yamal 6 sigma response. Remember also that in Mann (99) the North American TR series PCs were adjusted for showing unrealistic strong growth in the latter parts of the series. The adjustment was based on another TR series. The rationale for the adjustment was that NA TR PC showed growth that was conjectured to be caused by CO2 fertilization in trees at high altitudes. That growth leveled off in the latest part of the series and this was attributed by the authors to a “saturation” effect. The authors ended up stating that regardless of the exact mechanism the growth was unnatural and with anthropogenic causes.
        From Mann(99) Northern Hemisphere Temperatures During the Past Millennium: Inferences, Uncertainties, and Limitations:


        “A number of the highest elevation chronologies in the western U.S. do appear, however, to have exhibited long-term growth increases that are more dramatic than can be explained by instrumental temperature trends in these regions. Graybill and Idso [1993] suggest that such high-elevation, CO2-limited trees, in moisture-stressed environments, should exhibit a growth response to increasing CO2 levels…

  65. mpaul
    Posted May 8, 2012 at 8:46 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Excellent summary over at bishophill http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2012/5/8/the-yamal-deception.html

  66. Perplexed
    Posted May 8, 2012 at 10:42 PM | Permalink | Reply

    The claim is made at this link that Steve had the data about Yamal from years ago and did not need to go after CRU to get them to tell him: http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2009/10/mcintyre_had_the_data_all_alon.php

    What is the truth please? This blog post is trying to say that all you want to do is harass climate scientists. I find that hard to believe.

    Steve: Briffa had three sites: Taimyr, Tornetrask and Yamal. The first time that data on Taimyr and Tornetrask became available was in Sept 2009. Statements to the contrary are disinformation. I had obtained a data set for Hantemirov and Shiyatov 2002 from Hantemirov in 2004. There are different data versions at many of these sites (Tornetrask for example); Briffa 2000 did not provide core counts or other identifying information and one could not assume that it was the same data set as was used in Hantemirov and Shiyatov (which did not cite Briffa 2000). On an earlier occasion, I used data from Mann’s website to which i had been directed by Mann’s associate and Mann later claimed that it was the “wrong” data and a different version materialized. I therefore take care to ensure that I’m using the “right” data. As it turns out, Briffa knew that Hantemirov had sent me the data for Hantemirov and Shiyatov and could have satisfied my rquest merely by saying that he had used the same data as Hantemirov and SHiyatov and that would have satisfied my inquiry. Or just sent me the data. That’s what any reasonable person would have done. Instead, Osborn lied to Sciencemag saying that he didn’t have the measurement data. Phil Trans B did no more than require authors to comply with journal policies. When I examined the Phl Trans B archive, I learned that the data version in Briffa e al 2008 was the same as the small dataset that I had obtained previously from Hantemitov and reported this at Climate Audit. As I said above, briffa could have answered my inquiry in a straightforward manner, but refused to do so.

    Also worth noting is that Rob Wilson tried to get Yamal data from Briffa and was also refused – a refusal that was disregarded in the “inquiries”.

    • David Anderson
      Posted May 9, 2012 at 3:02 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Perplexed, look above and you’ll notice a post from Steve which is a script. That script contains both the instructions and data sources which allows me, you or anyone else to recreate Steve’s charts in this post. Steve, as a blog author, is not obliged to provide any of this, but he does because this transparency is essential if others are going to be able to recreate, or check, his work. Do ask yourself if you see that same transparency in the work of Jones, Briffa, Mann et al, I suggest you won’t (certainly for these earlier papers). And lets be clear: “having access to the data” doesn’t always mean you can do what they did — not if the data is out there somewhere on the internet for you to find yourself, inconsistently labeled, and when the actual data used is a subset of the whole and for which the selection process is not transparent (i.e. Arthur Dent, “…in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard’”).

      Again, Steve is a blog author, and he provides this. On the other side are scientists publishing in peer-reviewed journals who’s conclusions are being used to justify the expenditure of billions of dollars and changes to way we all live.

      • MikeN
        Posted May 9, 2012 at 9:59 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Mann provides such things in much of his recent work.

      • BillC
        Posted May 9, 2012 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Reply

        David Anderson,

        Unfortunately, perplexed’s question needs to be asked multiple times and it needs to be responded to by climate scientists. It does no good for Climate Audit to be a ‘way to go Steve’ echo chamber. What is needed is for someone with major insider credibility to look solidly at Steve’s analysis, find any possible weaknesses and conclude that the effect on the canonical HS is either insurmountable, or not. The RC post linked to by Mike Roddy at the top of the comments here does not do this (it’s not current anyway) because it is full of snarky adhoms and alternative lines of evidence trying to show HS results using other data. The adhoms are self-defeating, simply adding to the polarization/partisanship, and the alternative lines of evidence fail to address the main issue of the effect of Yamal on the validity of the HS.

        • theduke
          Posted May 9, 2012 at 11:14 AM | Permalink

          The fact that there has been no credible response by “climate scientists” in itself speaks volumes about the veracity of Steve’s work.

          Nearly three years and nothing substantive . . .

    • pete m
      Posted May 9, 2012 at 7:15 AM | Permalink | Reply

      And who what when where ignores the whole point.

      Why did Briffa not use all the data? Why did he choose some, fiddle others and then be somewhat cavlier about what he did?

      Briffa was supposed to be above the average warmist.

    • Unscientific Lawyer
      Posted May 9, 2012 at 8:59 AM | Permalink | Reply

      As Mr. McIntyre’s explanation shows, he wisely sought to authenticate the data he was using for his audits. By analogy, suppose I have a copy of a letter that states that it is from Company A to Company B. If the letter is on Company A’s letterhead, states it from from Company A, contains the signature of Company A’s president and was provided to me by Company A, its reasonable to surmise that it came from Company A.

      But what if the letter was provided to me by someone other than Company A? If it was provided to me by Company B, that supports Company B’s claim that the letter was received by Company B and probably that it was sent from A to B.

      But what if the letter was provided to me by Company C? Now all I have is a letter that C claims was written by A and sent to B. Maybe it was, but the further away from the source you get, the more uncertain you can be about its authenticity. Due diligence requires you to confirm with Company A that the letter is authentic. Things get interesting when the copy of the letter you get from Company A is different from the copy you get from Company B or C…

      This validation process is required in litigation because you have to prove that your evidence is authentic; no judge is going to just take your word for it. Furthermore, opposing counsel won’t question my motive in trying to authenticate documents because he knows how important it is to do so.

      The only people who would question Mr. McIntyre’s motive are those who believe that the rest of us should just take their word for it.

  67. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted May 9, 2012 at 9:44 AM | Permalink | Reply

    “So the full Yamal HS is much bigger than Mann’s PC1, so implausibly bigger that the authors of AR4 chose to suppress its full extent.

    “Hide the Incline?””

    Another available strategy would have been to “average” the incline with another less inclining proxy and show the averaged proxies as a single proxy so that a more believable incline could be displayed. This strategy would work best if the separate proxy series are never shown – or are left as an excercise by the reader.

  68. Posted May 9, 2012 at 10:46 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Deceptive or not deceptive, there is something else here out of question. “The science” is not correcting itself.

  69. Posted May 9, 2012 at 2:57 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I have been reading mthis thread and delving back into the Yamal hostory. Did Anastassia Makarieva ever feature again in nthe discussions?

  70. labrador
    Posted May 9, 2012 at 6:10 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Never pull the wool over a Canadian’s eyes about anything to do with hockey.

    Great work Steve! On my way to the Tipping Point Jar.

  71. Posted May 10, 2012 at 3:05 AM | Permalink | Reply

    If there was nothing to hide, they would not have withheld anything. It is that simple.

  72. David Anderson
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 6:37 AM | Permalink | Reply


    Phil discusses the Briffa 2009 ‘all’ response to “McIntyre’s sensitivity analysis”:

    Keith and Tom have almost finished their piece – should be up on Monday. I’ve read through it once and it seems OK. Goes into lots of detail. Upshot is that they now have all the modern trees from the 3 sites where Rashit Hantemirov took modern cores. They are sites YAD, POR and JAH. For some reason the Russians only used a few modern series (12 or 17). Keith and Tom have added all in now and the Schweingruber site. Result with all in looks like the 2008 paper. They will have plots of all sites (4) separately and together.

    The Schweingruber site is the odd one – and it’s also further from where the majority of the sub fossil stuff comes from. The total number of trees going in when all are put through RCS is over 100.

    But the tree count shown in Briffa’s graphs show a max tree count of about 75, not as Phil expected “over 100″. So Phil was being generous with the truth or they decided to throw some trees?


  73. biddyb
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 11:52 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I read your post – and so pleased to see you back again. Kept calling in and was disappointed not to see any posts, but you’re back with a vengeance – but it wasn’t until I read Bishop Hill’s post, which made the whole story much more lucid for a non-techie like me, did I fully appreciate your unceasing efforts. I visited The Bish’s tip jar, but then thought that as you had done so much work it was thoughtless of me not to do the same to you, so I have dropped a few quid in for you.

    I hope everyone else does too to show their appreciation of your dedicated hard work.

    A cracking story!

  74. Posted May 11, 2012 at 6:13 AM | Permalink | Reply

    “First of all, it should be made clear that McIntyre’s FOI requests on the subject of Yamal are not for raw data, nor for the code or analysis methodology behind a published result, but for an analysis of publicly available data that has not been completed and has not yet been published. To be clear, these requests are for unpublished work.”

    RC. Big wall of text there. Making coffee over here. Good day to all.

    • morebrocato
      Posted May 11, 2012 at 6:18 AM | Permalink | Reply

      I was pleased they alluded to Anthony Watt’s displeasure at the analysis of his data painstakingly gathered yet published by someone else ahead of him– though I don’t recall too much support offered for him back then.

  75. morebrocato
    Posted May 11, 2012 at 6:21 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Does anyone get the impression on an initial read of the RC response…


    That at least ‘someone’ has indeed done this regional analysis (as claimed by McIntyre), but are currently working on a way to change the way each data set is interpreted as truly ‘sensitive’ or ‘undisturbed’ or ‘anomalous’ so as to arrive at a different result that can have an explanation to go with a look that is not like McIntyre’s “insta-reconstruction”?

    • Boris
      Posted May 11, 2012 at 8:33 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Oh, yes I get that feeling. I don’t trust them and I know they’re up to no good. Public policies should be based on my paranoia.

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted May 11, 2012 at 8:59 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Re: morebrocato (May 11 06:21),

      I took a quick look at this. As typical with realclimate, they don’t quote what I actually say and instead fabricate claims that I didn’t make. For example, they say:

      Worse, McIntyre has claimed in his appeal that the length of time since the Briffa et al (2008) paper implies that the regional Yamal reconstruction has been suppressed for nefarious motives.

      They don’t like to my actual appeal which is online here. I have re-read the document and do not see anything that supports RC’s claim that “the length of time since the Briffa et al (2008) paper implies that the regional Yamal reconstruction has been suppressed for nefarious motives.”

      My criticism, as expressed or implied in the Appeal, was directed at its non-inclusion in Briffa et al 2008, as opposed to the subsequent delays.

      Perhaps such fabrications by realclimate rally their base, but if they purport to be “scientists”, then they should show some respect for the facts.

      I’ll comment more later. There are so many inaccuracies that it takes a while to summarize them.

      • Salamano
        Posted May 11, 2012 at 9:37 AM | Permalink | Reply

        From what it sounds like,

        Your “insta-reconstruction” of the data probably has some “truth” to it– but that “truth” must further be filtered by the various things Gavin indicated in his post (‘anomalousness’, ‘site distrubance’, etc.) before you can arrive at a ‘epistemologically’ acceptable conclusion.

        Now, to another one of Gavin’s points… Let’s say there’s more than one ‘epistemological’ group within a field of scientific research… Why is it not possible for each group’s “judgment calls” to exist validly within the literature alongside each other for future consideration? Why does one have to be rejected prior to publication because of epistemological judgment calls, when it seems that those judgment calls come to dominate the lion-share of the route to the conclusions?

        I hear his position that “Yamal” in the grand scheme of things doesn’t mean much in the arena of Hockey-Stick reproduction… but it would surely be a big thing in the world of dendro-paleo-climatology would it not (if Yamal fades in the increasing robustness of a less unprecedented regional chronology)? It certainly would seem a small vindication at the very least, right? It would seem to me that would be an advancement in ‘clarity’, which would presumably arise out of things like an audit, yes?

        • Kenneth Fritsch
          Posted May 11, 2012 at 10:19 AM | Permalink

          “I hear his position that “Yamal” in the grand scheme of things doesn’t mean much in the arena of Hockey-Stick reproduction…”

          In the grand scheme of things one has to look at – well, the grand scheme of things – and if one does it becomes rather obvious that individual proxies are found that tail up and tail down in the modern era of the series and a period also covered by the instrumental record. We thus quickly recognize that we have individual proxies which show evidence of over and under reaction if we assume the proxies are responding to temperature. That individual proxies could be selected from such a varying group and give a very contrasting picture of temperature trends should not be a surprise. That the proxies are reacting to something in addition to or to the exclusion of temperature to produce these varying results should not be a surprising counter supposition.

          Also knowing that the selection process for proxies is not formally spelled out a priori with reasonable physical constraints adds to skepticism that we have not seen all the available proxies and the potential variations that group might produce.

          When I see statements that take a single exception and treat it like it is entirely unique in the grand scheme of all things in temperature reconstructions, I am quite certain that that is an answer from an advocate and not a scientist.

    • Bob Koss
      Posted May 11, 2012 at 11:04 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Bishop Hill has done a deconstruction of Gavin’s Yamal post. Steve may have more to say.


  76. Fred Hubler
    Posted May 11, 2012 at 9:07 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Tree ring data from the Yamal peninsula were provided to Keith Briffa of the UEA’s CRU by Russian scientists Stephan Shiyatov and Rashit Hantemirov. In a climategate email from October 1998 Hantemirov writes that there is no evidence of movement of polar timberline in the last century.

    However, in 2005 the Canadian Journal of Forest Research published an article based on Shiyatov’s work which stated that a large number of well preserved tree remains can be found 60 – 80 meters above the current tree line, and that the earliest distinct maximum in stand density occurred in the 11th to 13th centuries coincident with the MWP.

    See http://www.nrcresearchpress.com/doi/abs/10.1139/x05-111

  77. Posted May 11, 2012 at 11:39 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Steve, can you point me to the code you use for your RCS detrending? I’m not finding it.

    Steve: I doublechecked and the script works. Did you have trouble getting it to run? Functions are loaded in the opening two lines:

    Go to the latter URL.

    In http://climateaudit.org/2009/09/29/verifying-my-rcs-emulation/ , I discuss my emulation of Briffa’s regional reconstructions. I realize that Briffa has varied his algorithm a little. If you can point me to a location in which Briffa has reported his precise algorithm, I’d appreciate it as I’d like to do an exact emulation. My requests for code permitting precise emulation have generally fallen on deaf ears however. I think that this is too bad.

    • Posted May 11, 2012 at 3:05 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Nor do I find either the mentioned script nor the stated “attachment” in the following:

      “The next figure shows a Yamals-Urals regional chronology (script shown in first comment). In this figure, I’ve calculated the chronology after allowing for inter-site differences. If inter-site differences are ignored, a “method” potentially used in other Briffa et al 2008 regions, 20th century levels are a little higher but not exceptional. (I’ll post up an attachment showing the differences.)”

      Steve: I haven’t posted this up yet. I’ll get to it. Sorry about that.

      • RomanM
        Posted May 11, 2012 at 3:41 PM | Permalink | Reply

        The R script for generating the material in the head post is here. Be sure to replace all of the quotes in the script by normal R quotes or the script won’t run properly. WordPress substitutes its own font version of the quote character in normal usage and this is not recognized by R.

        The code for a variety of functions (including the RCS detrending) is contained in the lines:


        which automatically gets the named files and runs the code in them. You can download these files to see what the functions look like.

        • Posted May 11, 2012 at 4:25 PM | Permalink

          That script just calls the RCS function:


          but does give the code for the function itself. But anyway I’ve found it.

        • Posted May 11, 2012 at 4:27 PM | Permalink

          correction, should be: “but does *not* give the code for the function itself.”

        • RomanM
          Posted May 11, 2012 at 4:42 PM | Permalink


          This is in the file I pointed you to:

          #4. RCS.chronology

          # this calculates an RCS chronology for a tree ring data set: the script is one of my earlier scripts
          # it works, but I’d write it more cleanly now.
          # it permits a couple of different ‘methods’ – in this case, variant styles of RCS
          #my preferred method is a nls fit

          RCS.chronology<-function (tree,method="nls") {

          dimnames(tree)[[2]][4]<-"x" #sometimes names are "rw", sometimes "mxd"
          meanx = tapply(tree$x,tree$age,mean)
          meanx=meanx[!is.na(meanx)]; N=length(meanx);N #189
          biwt.meanx = tapply(tree$x,tree$age,biweight.mean)
          biwt.meanx=biwt.meanx[!is.na(biwt.meanx)]; Nb=length(biwt.meanx);Nb #189

          if(method=="nls") { #preferred method
          fm <- nls(x ~ A+B*exp(-C*age),data = tree,
          start = list( A=mean(tree$x,na.rm=T)/4,B = mean(tree$x,na.rm=T), C= .01 ),
          alg = "default", trace = TRUE,control=nls.control(maxiter=200, tol=1e-05, minFactor=1e-10));
          fitted<- function(x) B[1]+B[2]*exp(-B[3]*x )

          if(method=="esper") {
          p=spline.response(.1*Nb);p # 2.695515e-05
          fit<-smooth.spline(1:Nb,biwt.meanx,spar=(1-p)) ;
          fitted<- approxfun(1:Nb,fit$y)

          tree$delta<- tree$x/tree$smooth
          series<- c(unlist( tapply(tree$delta,factor(tree$year),mean,na.rm=TRUE) ))

          RCS.chronology<-list(series=series,fit=fitted,delta=tree$delta,smooth=tree$smooth,coefficients=B,method=method,biweight.mean=biwt.meanx ,mean=meanx,strata= as.character(levels(tree$id)))

        • Posted May 11, 2012 at 5:00 PM | Permalink

          I was talking about the link to the script that you gave.

    • Posted May 11, 2012 at 4:02 PM | Permalink | Reply

      No, I haven’t tried running anything. I just wanted to look at the code of the algorithm you’re using. I had actually found it before you responded.

      No, I do not know what algorithm or exact code Keith Briffa used/uses.

      I use Andy Bunn’s algorithm in dplR. Your preferred “nls” method, which is based on negative exponential curve fits (assuming I’m looking at the right code) is a much stiffer detrending than the splines he uses, which are based on 10% of full chronology length. I see that you also have a spline version of RCS in your code but I can’t tell at first glance how flexible it is. It appears to also be fairly stiff (at first glance) if the ‘spar’ parameter of the smooth.spline function is in the vicinity of 0.8 or so, which it looked to be.

      • Steve McIntyre
        Posted May 11, 2012 at 4:53 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Re: Jim Bouldin (May 11 16:02),

        Briffa’s results can be emulated with negative exponentials. If you look at his contribution to the NATO 1996, he shows his style there. The style in Briffa 2000 doesn’t seem to have changed much.

        I’ve written a few posts showing the connection of tree ring recipes to mixed effects modeling and can emulate tree ring results in nlme in a rather pretty way.

        • Posted May 11, 2012 at 5:06 PM | Permalink

          I think this topic requires some discussion, a discussion which is neither necessarily pro-Briffa nor pro-McIntyre in orientation. I think there’s a lot to be said for Andy Bunn’s approach, on theoretical grounds, i.e one should fit a curve that is as flexible as possible when using RCS approaches.

        • Kenneth Fritsch
          Posted May 11, 2012 at 7:12 PM | Permalink

          Jim Bouldin, if you have the code for running the Andy Bunn algorithm and SteveM has coded the source data, is it not a rather easy task to process the data and let us all look at the results?

        • Posted May 11, 2012 at 11:32 PM | Permalink

          Anybody can use any of the functions in dplR including the rcs function–it’s an open source R package. You can do any analysis you want to. The tangential question here is why Steve, Keith or anyone else for that matter *doesn’t* use it. As far as I can tell, it’s the *only* RCS algorithm that’s documented in the literature and is freely and easily available (and modifiable) to anybody.

          Steve: it looks useful. It wasn’t available when I wrote most of my code. It has a number of utilities that correspond to utilities that I’ve written and which I’ve tested. RCS functions are really simple in algorithm terms. At some point, I’ll parse the properties of their function. IMO the more interesting exercise (and one that I regret not formalizing) is not merely collecting dendro recipes as Andy Bunn has usefully done here, but to place these recipes in a true statistical context. In that respect, some older CA posts provide (IMO) an interesting perspective.

        • Salamano
          Posted May 12, 2012 at 7:46 AM | Permalink

          Gavin Schmidt (as has often been the case) has taken great pains to put a lot of inline comments and explanations on his RealClimate posting about this same subject, and it seems pretty clear where this all is heading, or perhaps should head:

          http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2012/05/yamalian-yawns/comment-page-2/#comment-235399 (actually posts 53-56)

          There ‘will’ be a paper coming out at some point that will constitute a “regional” Yamal/Ural dendro-reoonstruction, and this won FOI appeal will now make it clear that the paper has to supply the list of which trees were used (and why) and which were not (and why). This paper will presumably retain much of the same original HS shape, effectively declaring to ‘confirm’ the original, with no commentary on whether the original paper should have been ascribed the high level of import it was. (perhaps this is another microcosm of the original MBH papers vs. the the subsequent ones of increasing validity/robustness?)

          Just like when Anthony Watts’ station data was published with analysis before he was able to do anything, so to in this case there may be a ‘race’ to do something with this data first. But it appears the devil will be in the details.

          1) Will Steve McIntyre (or someone else) publish a study indicating a regional dendro reconstruction of the area using the data available?
          1a)[His blog post has done that and shown the difference between the two-- but it has been characterized as an 'insta-reconstruction']– does this mean it will be rejected in ‘peer-review’ unless ‘more’ (of something) is included with it?]

          2) Does this insta-reconstruction, having been posted on this blog along with the news of the FOI appeal victory constitute by itself a needed breakthrough that advances the science by forcing the original authors to now improve upon their work by publishing a wider study that bolsters their original conclusions?
          2b)[That would definitely paint an 'auditor' like a gnat in the face, as a scientist would no-doubt feel like they have to go backwards for a time despite 'identical' conclusions each time]

        • Posted May 12, 2012 at 9:43 AM | Permalink

          “If you look at his contribution to the NATO 1996, he shows his style there.”

          I cannot find that document, not sure what it refers to.

        • theduke
          Posted May 12, 2012 at 10:09 AM | Permalink

          JIm Bouldin: from a post of Steve’s on Tornetrask in 2005:

          The Tornetrask data was discussed in three publications: Nature(1990), Clim. Dyn. (1992) and Climatic Variations (1996) (“NATO”).

        • Posted May 12, 2012 at 10:34 AM | Permalink

          theduke, the reference is almost certainly:
          “Briffa, K. R., Jones, P. D., Schweingruber, F. H., Karlen,W. & Shiyatov, S. G. 1996 Tree-ring variables as proxy-indicators: problems with low-frequency signals. In Climatic variations and forcing mechanisms of the last 2000 years (ed. P. D. Jones, R. S. Bradley & J. Jouzel), NATO ASI Series 141, pp. 9^41. Berlin: Springer.”

          but I cannot find a copy of it anywhere on the web

          Steve: I’ll try to scan in the next day or two.

        • Posted May 12, 2012 at 11:07 AM | Permalink

          “…At some point, I’ll parse the properties of their function. IMO the more interesting exercise (and one that I regret not formalizing) is not merely collecting dendro recipes as Andy Bunn has usefully done here, but to place these recipes in a true statistical context. In that respect, some older CA posts provide (IMO) an interesting perspective. ”

          I will try to look at those, in fact have started doing so.

          Parsing the properties of the dplR rcs function (or any such for that matter) would certainly be a useful thing, but I think certain arguments for Andy’s approach there can be made based on some simple, first principle considerations. The principal one there is: if one has presumably removed the tree age/size effect by the RCS procedure, then what remains is the environmental signal + the random variation. In that case, one is justified in fitting as flexible of a function as possible. It is granted however that (1) the RCS procedure may not perfectly remove the age/size effect, and (2) there might be some additional, biologically based, considerations for not making the curve overly flexible (but these require external information or more sophisticated analytical procedures than currently exist).

          A more minor nit is that Andy’s work there involves more than just “collecting tree ring recipes”. He had to translate all of the original ARSTAN routines from whatever their coded in (FORTRAN?) into R.

          Steve: Translating into R is, as you say, more than simply “collecting” and I did not mean it in that sense. I’ve done such translations myself and the translation and validation is time consuming.

          My point is a different one. I urge you to study the packages nlme and lme4 and look at relevant texts on “mixed effects” and “random effects”. I regard tree ring recipes as “artisanal” statistics. The recipes often make sense, but are not placed in the best possible statistical framework. In mixed effects modeling, there are trade-offs between modeling individuals, modeling the population and modeling effects. These distinctions can be seen in tree ring “recipes”. A “conventional” Jacoby-style chronology can be modeled as nlsList, while a RCS as a nls function.

          I can replicate standard recipes from a completely different perspective. This isn;t shown in my online functions as these more or less port. But it’s a much better approach than the recipes themselves.

          This is a separate issue from splines or negative exponentials.

        • Posted May 12, 2012 at 2:52 PM | Permalink

          Steve, reply at 11:07,

          OK, I will try to explore that issue a bit but I think the issue of how flexible to make the RCS curve is more important than you (and others) are recognizing. Specifically, if you fit a negative exponential equation to data that have a more complex, inherent age/size trend than such a fit can account for, you will artificially be introducing climatic variation that is not real. This is sort of the opposite problem that occurs when you detrend each series separately, where the problem tends to be that one tends to artificially remove climate variability that really *is* there.

          Whether it’s better to fit a mixed effects model or not seems to me a secondary, fine-tuning type of issue but I’m willing to learn on the matter.

          Steve: I’m making a point orthogonal to the one that worries you here. Tree ring chronologies are an “interesting” statistical problem as they involve mixed effects, heteroskedasticity, autocorrelation, stratification, . There are big and interesting data sets. My impression is that people in the field tend to be outdoorsy people, who dont have a deep grasp of the statistical issues. Nor would a proper statistical foundation necessarily revolutionize practical interpretations. It’s more of an academic point. But people in this field seem more interested in results with policy relevance than in academic points and these posts have attracted little interest.

        • Posted May 12, 2012 at 3:54 PM | Permalink

          Yes, I know that we are talking about dissimilar issues and that your point has more to do with the larger issue of the most appropriate statistical modeling framework than mine does. To stand back and conceptualize the problem as well as possible, and model it accordingly, is certainly a very important point and valid objective.

          As for your second point, this is something I can speak to. As an ecologist, believe me, I am well familiar with “outdoorsy” type of folks without a very strong set of quantitative skills. I’m probably still one of them myself, depending on who you ask. But there are also those who have very strong skills (such as Ben Bolker, co-author of the lme4 package you mention above and author of “Ecological Models and Data in R”). Similarly, there are people like Ed Cook and Dave Meko who bring a strong quantitative background to tree ring analysis. The question though, for any given analysis, is what are the really important quantitative/statistical considerations that need to be paid attention to. The whole crux of these debates revolves on that question I think.

        • Posted May 12, 2012 at 4:04 PM | Permalink

          Yes, I know that we are talking about dissimilar issues and that your point has more to do with the larger issue of the most appropriate statistical modeling framework than mine does. To stand back and conceptualize the problem as well as possible, and model it accordingly, is certainly a very important point and valid objective.

          As for your second point, this is something I can speak to. As an ecologist, believe me, I am well familiar with “outdoorsy” type of folks without a very strong set of quantitative skills. I’m probably still one of them myself, depending on who you ask. But there are also those who have very strong skills (such as Ben Bolker, co-author of the lme4 package you mention above and author of “Ecological Models and Data in R”). Similarly, there are people like Ed Cook and Dave Meko who bring a strong quantitative background to tree ring analysis. The question though, for any given analysis, is what are the really important quantitative/statistical considerations that need to be paid attention to. The whole crux of these debates revolves on that question I think.

          Steve: I’ve read Bolker’s text and applied some of his methods in some work that I did on Santer trends. Bolker would probably appreciate the approach that I have in mind. Andy BUnn might as well. Cook’s work seems to me to be generally of high standard, but I doubt that he’d see the point. Rob Wilson doesn’t see the point. It’s really something for someone in statistics, rather than someone who likes trees.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted May 12, 2012 at 4:23 PM | Permalink

          here’s a post in which I outlined a mixed effects approach to chronology calculation

          These were from notes that I wrote up in 2004 before I was so rudely interrupted by people contesting sensible observations about proxy reconstructions. :)

          I have other notes that progress from this but dont recall whether I’ve placed them online

        • Posted May 12, 2012 at 8:02 PM | Permalink

          That’s helpful Steve, I will read it.

  78. Ismail N
    Posted May 11, 2012 at 6:53 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Green Sand (May 7, 2012 at 9:48 AM) –
    Very true, though sometimes one needs to scrutinize it very closely before one can see the patches.

  79. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted May 12, 2012 at 10:45 AM | Permalink | Reply


    In your link to RC and where Schmidt replies to you about providing the array of proxies from which a selection was made and additionally where I think you were asking about selection criteria (rules?), I find Gavin’s replies not satisfying at all. I do not get where he indicates the body of proxy data is nearly boundless and he appears to imply that listing potential sources to draw from as an unwieldy exercise. He seems to prefer a process where proxies are selected and published and whereby a “competing” set of proxies could be used and published. Either I have misinterpreted what that conversation was all about or I have to think Schmidt does not appreciate the need for an a priori stated criteria for the selection of proxies with stated and reasonable physical underpinnings for the criteria. He does not address the issue of selection bias but rather appears to put his faith in the a peer review process to sort it out – a process that has not really addressed the issue in my view.

    “Gavin Schmidt (as has often been the case) has taken great pains to put a lot of inline comments and explanations on his RealClimate posting about this same subject, and it seems pretty clear where this all is heading, or perhaps should head:”

    • Salamano
      Posted May 12, 2012 at 11:51 AM | Permalink | Reply

      From what he was replying to me, I got the sense that he DID favor an explicit description of selection methodology, combined with the statistically significant end-result of that methodology on the data that was selected.

      I believe he (speaking for the greater science community) did not find meaningful an ‘all the data’ analysis because, as he has put it, some(many) trees have various signals in their data that would/could/should rule them out as acceptable candidates for participation in a temperature reconstruction. Each tree-ring core would have to then be selected based on their determined-to-be-free of such clouding, and then those results would be more robust.

      The literature on this selection process probably precludes the ability to say that ‘all unknown/uncertain elements balance out such that an all-data rendering can be considered robust, lest all ‘any-data’ renderings will be suspect.

      To my recollection, earlier climate papers may have been able to say such things (for example that nearly ‘every climate forcing effectively cancel each other out such that CO2 is the only outlying contributor that can be relatable to anomalous global temperature rise’)…but perhaps the ‘now’ papers can’t do such things, especially if they differ from the prevailing scientific understanding– which goes for dendro research as well.

      • bernie1815
        Posted May 12, 2012 at 3:38 PM | Permalink | Reply

        I enjoyed you comments at RC. Surely the point about “all the data” analysis is to ensure that another more powerful signal is not ignored? For example, if there is a precipitation signal that is more coherent for a large set of cores that include some of the temp designated cores, does the temp signal survive? Isn’t this a similar issue to the BCP dominate Mann PC1 proxy?

      • Geoff Sherrington
        Posted May 12, 2012 at 6:59 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Salamano, Some of us are more concerned with selection properties that rule candidates IN than rule candidates out. Having gone to the expense of collection and initial analysis, one would need strong and obvious, possibly non-statistical, reasons to rule out a candidate. Such reasons should always be described, even briefly, as a flag for possible later interpretation.
        Analogy. Evaluation of grade by drilling an emerging orebody instead of a tree. The drill holes are horribly expensive and unless there is an obvious error such as wrong siting or large segments of core missing, the core is routinely included IN the analysis. Apart from accident, in real operation, there s NO selection methodology. By definition, cores on the periphery lower the grade and influence the economics downwards, but that’s part of the rough and tumble of arriving at a best answer.
        It is anti-science to select from preliminary results, to keep only those examples that show a preconceived desirable response. Kenneth is entirely correct. You have to formulate your hypothesis and stick to it. Then you publish how well your hypothesis succeeded and have the option of a later paper where you remove some variation that is justified as common sense. It’s tougher, it’s longer but it’s more honest. For one ore deposit that became a 40-year mine, we did over 100 computer designs of the optimal pit shape and extraction sequence. We could not have done this so well if we had done an early exclusion of selective drill holes.
        In close reading of the Russian dendro work, readers could be excused for thinking that there was significant rejection of tree cores where they “did not look fruitful”. Inquiring minds seek a full list of all trees and subsequent treatment.

        • Salamano
          Posted May 12, 2012 at 7:42 PM | Permalink

          “Apart from accident, in real operation, there s NO selection methodology.”

          I’ve got to think there is disagreement on this point when it comes to trees. You’re saying there are no possible contaminations in a tree core sample that could render its data non-representative of its neighbors (that could only be discovered upon examining the core)?

  80. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted May 12, 2012 at 10:58 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Jim Bouldin, try this lnk to Briffa, K. R., Jones, P. D., Schweingruber, F. H., Karlen,W. & Shiyatov, S. G. 1996 Tree-ring variables as proxy-indicators: problems with low-frequency signals.


    • Posted May 12, 2012 at 11:09 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Terrific, I don’t know how you did that because I couldn’t find it there, but many thanks.

    • Geoff Sherrington
      Posted May 12, 2012 at 10:24 PM | Permalink | Reply

      @ Salamano. Thank you Kenneth May 12, 2012 at 10:58, for the Briffa et al abstract. It has a schoolboy howler with its mention of uniformitarianism. As used by Briffa et al it ignorantly confuses a local response with a global one. A large part of the uniformitarian principle would require that all trees with cores available by Briffa et al should be treated equally; and that none should be rejected unless there was an obvious fault as I noted above. Salamano, you did not quote me properly in your Post May 12, 2012 at 7:42 PM. I had already mentioned strong and obvious reasons for rejection, such as loss of material or wrong siting. Read again the point that the main reasons for rejection could well be non-statistical in the first attempted paper.
      This is school teaching grade, but NO, you do not reject a candidate if there are possible contaminations. All trees a priori have possible contaminations. Firstly, you process every tree core to the same degree. If there is an unexplained aberration, you might choose not to publish, or to publish with notice of a follow-up paper where the aberration is explained, or attempted to be explained.
      I dedicated over 6 years of my science career to investigating the growth response of plants to external factors, especially nutrients, and it was as clear then as it is now that this response is very complicated, with secondary and probably tertiary orders of interaction, some non-linear, among the causative variables. Had I weeded out some plants from trial plots before mathematical analysis, I would have been sacked on the spot, because of gross misunderstanding of uniformitarianism and other factors.
      Is this clear?

      • bernie1815
        Posted May 13, 2012 at 11:53 AM | Permalink | Reply

        It is certainly clear to me. To do otherwise leaves the researcher open to charges of cherry picking and confirmation bias. Moreover, it eliminates the chance to identify any confounding variable, such as precipitation that is powerful enough to nullify any potential temperature signal.

  81. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted May 12, 2012 at 3:13 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Salamano, below I have excerpted your comment and Gavin’s reply. In your comment you are pointing to the criticality of the selection process and in reference, I think, to an author of a published works revealing the compendium of data from which a selection was made. Gavin had previously pointed to authors not wanting to release unpublished data to competitors in publishing on these matters. Gavin in his reply to your comment, with which he seemingly agrees, cites SteveM’s blogging – that provides a sensitivity test (and has nothing to do with questioning honesty) and in the manner that I think Gavin proscribes except it is not a published paper – as short-circuiting the system.

    What should be discussed regardless of how much of the data from which selections were made can be referenced in a published report (and I think that argument is no different than the bogus/weak one for not revealing the original data used in any paper) is the selection process and criteria used and the fact that it must be used a priori and then all selected data used. Lower level decisions on items such as individual tree cores would require a priori criteria also. Any exclusion of data after the fact would require justification based on an outlier status and be duly pointed out in the paper.

    These procedures have not been part of the papers published on temperature reconstructions and is a major reason for the weaknesses and controversy of the results. A proper and efficient procedure to show these weaknesses is a sensitivity test such as that used by SteveM for Yamal. The sensitivity testing has been done before when analyzing climate science papers on these blogs and those doing it do not claim that their data selections are proper or even that in the Yamal case that the proxies are valid thermometers, but rather that the conclusions are sensitive to the selection process.

    “Hopefully there will be room in the literature for works that make diverse ‘judgment calls’ about what constitutes a robust regional dendro-reconstruction of the greater Yamal/Ural area, instead of just one, as it would appear the data selection process becomes the most important variable to the conclusions (is this why the ICO ruled in appeal that perhaps simply making the data available without the selection elements is not enough?). Even though that would put uncertainty into the literature, it would still better characterize the available impressions of the data for scientists to cite.

    [Response: Of course - that is precisely the point. Instead we have McIntyre short-circuiting the system and using differences to impute dishonesty. If he wants to show that his reconstruction is better, he needs to write a paper documenting it and demonstrating to more than just the blog commenters that he is justified in claiming it. As Phil Jones once said "I wish they'd just write a paper". - gavin]“

    • Salamano
      Posted May 12, 2012 at 4:07 PM | Permalink | Reply

      So, you’re saying there actually isn’t a body of published work that indicates what about various tree cores makes them a better candidate for inclusion into a regional dendro-reconstruction? I’m under the impression from Gavin’s words that such literature exists. It would cover (for example) how one core manifests itself as more sensitive to temperature than another; how one core can be considered unusably ‘disturbed’ vs. another; how one core can be cosidered reflective of a regional temperature trend vs. something ultra local and noisy; etc. etc.

      Surely these decisions aren’t made (a) because I say so, or (b) because their ‘insta-reconstruction’ line pre-indicates (or doesn’t indicate) the requisite desired curve.

      One of my interests that seems to go wanting is that with these ‘updated’ publications that on-the-one-hand ‘confirm’ the basic conclusions of the original paper comes some level of acknowledgement that the original paper suffered from a non-negligible robustness problem regardless of the more accurate new publication. This could be applied to a future improved regional Ural dendrochronology over that of just a few Yamal trees just as well as it could be applied to subsequent MBH publications that reconstruct global temperatures without using bristlecones or Tiljander (etc.)

      There seem to be many studies that are now out there that provide a sort circular-confirmation because they are all indicating the same things from a variety of different proxies, such that it relegates these specific issues a lessening significance in the overall evidence of Global Warming– but nevertheless the point should still be yielded that some of this early work on which grand statements have been made (and lots of future dollars/decisions have been distributed) had been too over-reaching, and the science has benefitted from the sort of ‘auditing’ that has gone on.

      From what Gavin has been saying, it seems the inclusion of things like Tiljander, bristlecones, Yamal as directly representative of Siberian temperatures, etc. are all now near-negligibly minor players. Why not now then at least say they are also less than stellar indicators of Global Temperature– and perhaps credit some folks for painstakingly deciphering that, or perhaps are we not actually there yet?

    • Geoff Sherrington
      Posted May 14, 2012 at 2:41 AM | Permalink | Reply

      “Instead we have McIntyre short-circuiting the system and using differences to impute dishonesty.”
      Gavin and followers might benefit from a look at a simple dictionary definition of an audit.
      It is not typical of auditors to publish papers in support or rebuttal. They report.
      Auditors are there to check that correct procedures were used.
      If they go the extra miles to provide a better way, they should be applauded.
      Please don’t be so bitter ar RC. It’s unseemly.

      • kakatoa
        Posted May 14, 2012 at 5:54 PM | Permalink | Reply


        I have a feeling that it’s the second, third and fourth words in the definition of Audit – “a formal or official…” that are in contention. The contention being that Steve’s efforts can be classified as formal, but not official by certain groups. As the word “or” vs. the word “and” is used in the definition Steve has provided feedback on the process. If and when the feedback becomes corrective on the other hand is the hands folks that have an impact on what is “official” in terms of best practices for the activities.

        Actually, in retrospect, given that our FOIA laws are official I guess we can conclude even if “and” was substituted for “or” in the definition we have official and formal feedback on a process. In any case, thanks for taking me back to my days of design verification. I usually stick to how to accomplish real world activities (from optimizing things in a faster, better and cheaper perspective) but it seems to me that Steve’s comment on sites vs. cores seems important.

  82. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted May 12, 2012 at 4:36 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Salamano when you say:

    “It would cover (for example) how one core manifests itself as more sensitive to temperature than another; how one core can be considered unusably ‘disturbed’ vs. another; how one core can be cosidered reflective of a regional temperature trend vs. something ultra local and noisy; etc. etc.”

    I am not at all sure what you mean here exactly. The selection criteria would start before the cores are considered. You cannot select or not select the tree stand or cores based on peeking at the final results, i.e. how well the proxy responded to the local or regional temperature of your choice. That peeking is what my sermon is all about – it invalidates all the statistics and makes the reconstruction worthless or worse potentially misleading.

    As a matter of fact a good test of the proxy as a thermometer would be to make your selections based on the criteria as I have outlined and then produce a table of how well all of the selections responded to temperature. Have you ever seen that done in a published paper on using proxies for reconstructions?

    • Salamano
      Posted May 12, 2012 at 4:54 PM | Permalink | Reply

      “I am not at all sure what you mean here exactly. The selection criteria would start before the cores are considered. You cannot select or not select the tree stand or cores based on peeking at the final results, i.e. how well the proxy responded to the local or regional temperature of your choice. That peeking is what my sermon is all about – it invalidates all the statistics and makes the reconstruction worthless or worse potentially misleading.”

      I am under the impression that this sort of data analysis is precisely a way to determine certain contamination variables. Meaning, if you select a tree that ‘looks good’, but then the core has an obviously damaged result (looking at the data) then you can discount the tree. Can you tell whether or not a tree has ‘messed up’ data 300 years ago for 150 years, but that otherwise is fine without looking at the data (just staring at the tree infront of you)? There are ‘judgment calls’ you can make prior to selecting a tree to core and there are ‘judgment calls’ you can make as to whether or not its core data is worthy for inclusion in a study– it seems clear to me this is exactly what Yamal is all about, and also clear that (Gavin says) studies that don’t make (and explain) these judgment calls are not informative.

      • bernie1815
        Posted May 13, 2012 at 4:14 PM | Permalink | Reply

        I don’t think anyone is rejecting the notion that there might be “defective” cores. The questions in this instance become (a)why so many of an already pre-selected but sparse set of cores are rejected? and (b) Why not simply document and make public which cores are in or out of the sample for what reason? None of this seems to be excessively demanding. No pharmaceutical study would get published if the data from only a sub-set of those originally included in the experiment were analyzed without some very clear rationale for excluding them. The FDA in its audit role, of course, would want to see the records of all the patients in the study.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted May 13, 2012 at 4:24 PM | Permalink

          the issue is not the selection of individual “cores” but the selection of sites.

          The uphill battle for Briffa is that NW Siberia chronologies are overall characterized by the “decline”. The Yamal locations – POR and YAD – are exceptions. But the more sites that are included, the harder it is not to show a “decline”.

          CRU is presently trying to show that the “decline” arises from defects in conventional chronology methods. This is very much worth researching.

          However, as I’ve said in other contexts, it’s seldom a good idea to pioneer statistical methodology on controversial data sets. Also their study seems targeted to appear one minute before the AR5 eligibility ends.

  83. kakatoa
    Posted May 12, 2012 at 6:35 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I am starting to read an older book from my library. I thought the audience here would get a kick out of the following-

    “But, despite British resistance to any measure of inquiry or accountability, the burden of the past has finally proved too great. In the the end the secrets had to come out and the catharsis has not come through the official or judicial inquires…………..” page Ix by forward by Paul Greengrass (London, 1988) on Spy Catcher by Peter Wright

    A review of the book- http://www.amazon.com/review/R1H8ACBR5LKMY3/ref=cm_cr_pr_perm?ie=UTF8&ASIN=0670820555&nodeID=&tag=&linkCode=

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted May 12, 2012 at 8:27 PM | Permalink | Reply

      One fascinating incident in the Cambridge spy is that Kim Philby, later disclosed as a traitor, represented Britain in the debriefing of Russian defector Igor Gouzenko at the start of the Cold War. Some of the suspicion on Hollis – the target of Wright’s book – was his seeming obtuseness to evidence against Philby. The British failure to come to deal with the problem caused the matter to drag on. My grandfather was judge in several spy trials in Canada arising from the Gouzenko .evidence. Unlike Britain where Cambridge spies were left at large and suspicion lingered for years, we had trials and got it over with.

      • Skiphil
        Posted Nov 4, 2012 at 9:50 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Re: Steve McIntyre (May 12 20:27),

        Steve, how remarkable about your grandfather serving as judge on some of the cases arising from Gouzenko’s defection. If you haven’t seen it I highly recommend the more recent (2009) book by Chapman Pincher (“Treachery”) which provides a lot of intriguing information filling out the case against Roger Hollis. I can’t assess a lot of the arcane details but Pincher seems to make a convincing circumstantial case against Hollis and also provides some context for understanding Peter Wright’s career and subsequent book. Pincher claims to have a more comprehensive understanding of these matters than Wright had attained from a more limited base of available knowledge.

      • Skiphil
        Posted Nov 4, 2012 at 10:32 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Re: Steve McIntyre (May 12 20:27),

        btw, Pincher maintains that it was Hollis not Philby who was sent to debrief Gouzenko, and that Hollis provided a highly deceptive account of Gouzenko’s character and information, in order to discredit Gouzenko with MI5 and MI6. Gouzenko’s defection should have led to the unmasking of Soviet GRU mole ‘Elli’ (later thought to be Hollis according to both Peter Wright and Chapman Pincher), but the report that came back to MI5 and MI6 undermined investigation of relevant leads.

        “It was Hollis’s associate, the spy Philby, who suggested that Hollis should be the officer sent to interrogate Gouzenko. If Hollis was Elli, it was urgently in his and the Soviet interests that he should handle and manipulate the case.”

        Pincher, Chapman (2009-06-17). Treachery: Betrayals, Blunders, and Cover-ups: Six Decades of Espionage Against America and Great Britain (Kindle Locations 10699-10701). Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

  84. Coldish
    Posted May 12, 2012 at 9:04 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I have only limited time available to follow the convoluted Yamal debate and would welcome some focus on key issues arising. I noticed the following comment on Real Climate posing two short questions which seem to go to the heart of the matter.

    44Geoff Sherrington says:
    11 May 2012 at 7:47 PM

    …..The bottom lines are twofold, a. what are the regional recorded thermometer temperatures used for calibration at Yamal and elsewhere discussed within 400 km? b. which tree ring records, once processed (as is on the record), were rejected for public/scientific presentation and for what reasons?

  85. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted May 12, 2012 at 10:48 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Salamano quotes “it seems clear to me this is exactly what Yamal is all about, and also clear that (Gavin says) studies that don’t make (and explain) these judgment calls are not informative.”
    The correct sequence is
    1. Calculate and publish all data.
    2. Note any suspect data.
    3. Delete any acceptably suspect data.
    4. Either retract the paper or publish again on the full cause(s) for selective rejection.
    Reversal of this sequence is an insult to the scientific method.

    Not just dendro work, but many other sub-fields of climate study suffer from the same deficiency. It is ludicrous, for example, to derive without question a historic temperature reconstruction from an isotope ratio through a simple, single equation used globally. e.g. the 1967 Shackleton equation for oxygen.

    • barn E. rubble
      Posted May 14, 2012 at 7:15 AM | Permalink | Reply

      RE:”. . . to derive without question a historic temperature reconstruction from an isotope ratio . . .”

      Since the early 70′s (Libby and Pandolfi among others thru the 80′s) found isotopes in tree rings to be sensitive indicators of climate changes. Particularly re: temperature proxies. Has this line of research been discontinued/discredited in favour of ring width &/or density?

  86. Steve McIntyre
    Posted May 13, 2012 at 10:04 AM | Permalink | Reply

    NASA blogger Gavin Schmidt is consigning many comments favorable to me to their Borehole, while posting derogatory comments. See

    Over the years, I’ve modified my editorial policy primarily so that every thread doesn’t turn into the same discussion. Most of the comments that I delete are “piling on” comments that are “favorable” to me in a sense, but typically over-editorializing. I don’t recall ever deleting or snipping a comment that praised Real Climate or the Team.

    I think that their policy is counter-productive to whatever objective they have.

    • Posted May 13, 2012 at 3:08 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Steve, everyone at RC basically has the right to bore-hole a comment if they want to. You can criticize us a group for this if you like, but it’s not fair to lay it on Gavin. In fact, I know for a fact that he did not bore-hole some of those comments.

      • pdtillman
        Posted Jun 4, 2012 at 5:25 PM | Permalink | Reply

        @Jim Bouldin, May 13, 2012 at 3:08 PM, Borehole:

        I guess the creation of the “Borehole” is progress (of a sort) — previously, inconvenient/unliked comments vanished entirely.

        You should be aware of the damage this did to RC’s credibility. It doesn’t sound like the present policy is a big improvement.

      • Posted Nov 5, 2012 at 9:15 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Hi Jim, I wonder if you would share with us your opinion of Skeptical Science, in terms of its reliability, and whether you endorse or disapprove of John Cook’s practices there.

  87. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted May 13, 2012 at 10:46 AM | Permalink | Reply

    “I am under the impression that this sort of data analysis is precisely a way to determine certain contamination variables. Meaning, if you select a tree that ‘looks good’, but then the core has an obviously damaged result (looking at the data) then you can discount the tree. Can you tell whether or not a tree has ‘messed up’ data 300 years ago for 150 years, but that otherwise is fine without looking at the data (just staring at the tree infront of you)? There are ‘judgment calls’ you can make prior to selecting a tree to core and there are ‘judgment calls’ you can make as to whether or not its core data is worthy for inclusion in a study– it seems clear to me this is exactly what Yamal is all about, and also clear that (Gavin says) studies that don’t make (and explain) these judgment calls are not informative.”

    I am having a problem understanding exactly what you are saying here, Salamano, so I will ask a very direct question to you. Would you eliminate a proxy sample because it did not respond as expected to the modern era instrumental temperature record and showed no other exceptional characteristics that would imply a problem of outlier status?

    I have already noted that outliers could be excluded after the fact but only when it was reported how the outlier status was determined – and that ideally was a reasonably and objectively based determination.

    Yamal is a case of proxies that were already published and I strongly suspect without reference to an a priori selection criteria. Selection bias in already published proxies is very likely unless one looks at all the data. That probable bias is what SteveM’s sensitivity analysis of Yamal showed and it need not be in a peer-reviewed paper to allow others to judge. The responses from Briffa and RC are very telling in that matter.

    • Salamano
      Posted May 13, 2012 at 11:23 AM | Permalink | Reply

      “Would you eliminate a proxy sample because it did not respond as expected to the modern era instrumental temperature record and showed no other exceptional characteristics that would imply a problem of outlier status?”

      No. I wouldn’t.

      That sort of thing though would need to be explained. Either it would mean that trees all-of-a-sudden ceased to be a good proxy for temperature after a certain point (atmospheric CO2 level?) whereas before it was still ‘good’, or it would mean that perhaps trees themselves aren’t a good proxy for temperature.

      I think Gavin’s comments indicate that there will be a study coming out at some point that will do the work of describing the “other exceptional characteristics” that imply rejectionable problems. As he has pointed out, any studies’ ‘judgment calls’ are going to be a source of consternation, but that there “will be” judgment calls in any paper on stuff like this. The key is to fully describe them and have them be reasonable. These other characteristics will certainly reduce the field from ‘all the cores’ to perhaps a minority of them. In my opinion, this would imply a necessarily higher degree of skepticism as to whether these things are truly good at being a proxy or not (for example, going from 1000 cores to 10). That they were so relied on for the earliest reconstructions is the fault line.

      If the scientific community comes to accept the selection methodology as well as the screening methodology, then they would accept the results of the reconstruction using the methodology. The results can’t be rejected or accepted based on the shape they show, but instead would depend on the worthiness of the selection criteria. That’s where the critique becomes most useful. The critique would obviously also do well to be focused on how data is collected off the cores and translated into temperature, and Steve has taken that on as well.

  88. Posted May 16, 2012 at 1:27 PM | Permalink | Reply


    Have you ever considered googlevis api’s for your spaghetti graphs? They are compatible with R, and can be embedded on webpages.

    More importantly, they have interactive features, which I think could add clarity to your presentation, eg allowing visitors to turn on/off certain series to reduce the clutter, or to zoom-in without having to add a second picture. They even do can be set to ‘play’ to show graph changing over time by altering a parameter.

    Steve: I’m not familiar with the technique. Sound interesting and appropriate for my style.

    • Kenneth Fritsch
      Posted Jun 4, 2012 at 7:29 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Nick Stokes has R code at his web site for animating the spaghetti graphs whereby you can highlight one proxy at a time. It would be rather revealing for a lot of observers – I think.

  89. pdtillman
    Posted Jun 4, 2012 at 5:14 PM | Permalink | Reply

    @Jim Bouldin

    I assume this is you?

    Interesting material. Thanks for your contributions to this thread. Stick around — we don’t bite (much).

    Cheers, Pete Tillman
    Consulting Geologist-Geochemist

25 Trackbacks

  1. [...] Unsurprisingly for paleoclimatology, the results using all of the data are a little different. Rate this: Like this:LikeBe the first to like this post. [...]

  2. [...] Yamal FOI Sheds New Light on Flawed Data [...]

  3. [...] the entire story at Climate Audit here. It is a MUST READ for anyone who has been following [...]

  4. [...] the Climate Audit trail The urban and the rurals A few at CRU have gone quite pale Steve’s got ‘em by the Urals!  Share this:ShareFacebookDiggTwitterStumbleUponPrintRedditEmailLike this:LikeBe the first to like [...]

  5. [...] te lezen is op ClimateAudit zijn er nieuwe ontwikkelingen rond de Yamal-boomringdata. Na een slepende FOI-procedure van [...]

  6. By UEA accused of lying | ScottishSceptic on May 7, 2012 at 9:29 AM

    [...] records from the 17 sites released by the UEA and used these to reconstruct past temperatures (link). The following graph appears to be a comparison of the UEA reconstruction and Steve [...]

  7. By Soutersmith blog on May 7, 2012 at 9:41 AM

    UEA accused of lying…

    A while back I used a picture of the Yamal district to illustrate a short talk on the AGW nonsense. Now, the University of East Anglia (UAE) have been accused of lying about their use of Yamal data in producing the notorious ‘hockey stick’ graphs. T…

  8. [...] irrelevant, why then did CRU fight the FOIA requests, invoking a decision by the ICO? According to Steve McIntyre: Phil Jones’ first instinct on learning about Climategate was that it was linked to the Yamal [...]

  9. [...] heeft verkregen. Vervolgens moet je als leek door een gortdroge verhandeling op Climate Audit heen: Yamal FOI Sheds New Light on Flawed Data. Als je dat gedaan hebt dan zie je wat Anthony ziet:In the over 7,000 published stories here on [...]

  10. [...] sabemos que a GISS le gusta cambiar el pasado.Más enlaces:El original de McIntyre en Climate Audit.Yamal FOI Sheds New Light on Flawed DataComparte esto:FacebookBitacoras.comEmailPrintgoogle_ad_client = "ca-pub-0046995781837403"; /* [...]

  11. [...] Yamal FOI Sheds New Light on Flawed Data Share this:FacebookTwitterCorreo electrónicoMásDiggStumbleUponImprimirReddit   [...]

  12. [...] Yamal FOI Sheds New Light on Flawed Data May 6, 2012 – 1:12 PM [...]

  13. By Eye on Britain (2) on May 9, 2012 at 5:36 AM

    [...] Steve McIntyre has just got Britain’s freedom of Information authorities to force CRU to release some more of their tree-ring data. Steve wtites in a very technical way so to save trouble for people who are not immersed in the subject, I am going to offer a quick layman’s summary of what the new data showed. In their publications showing a 20th century temperature rise, CRU used a highly selected body of tree ring data from N.W. Russia. They had a lot of data from that region but used only an odd subset of it. But what happens when you use ALL the data? What if you use all the data available for the whole of the region concerned? You can see that below. There is NO anomalous temperature rise in recent times. CRU knew that using all the data would destroy their claims of warming so they did a cherry-pick instead. This is plain scientific dishonesty and would normally get an academic fired. But with the whole of the political Left behind the Warmist nonsense you can be sure that the fraud will be excused. We have heard the “fake but accurate” story before (As claimed by the NYT in connection with Dan Rather’s attempted defamation of GW Bush). SOURCE [...]

  14. [...] officiella granskningar som har gjorts av CRUs arbete. Detaljerna (med referenser) finns här. En mycket välskriven sammanfattning finns här. En uppdatering [...]

  15. By Schmidt’s Rant on Yamal « Climate Audit on May 13, 2012 at 2:59 PM

    [...] Schmidt posted an extended rant against me at Real Climate, a rant directed in part at my recent post on [...]

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  17. [...] http://climateaudit.org/2012/05/06/yamal-foi-sheds-new-light-on-flawed-data/#more-15956 [...]

  18. [...] wars between Realclimate.org and ClimateAudit.org, where Steve McIntyre has just delivered two more blows to the ‘Team’ treering chronology-temperature reconstructions. These have been [...]

  19. [...] and evidence to Muir Russell by CRU on the topic have been either untruthful or deceptive. Full essay Steve McIntyre: Yamal FOI Sheds New Light On Flawed [...]

  20. [...] accusations (here, leading to embellishment across parts of the blogosphere, e.g. here) that the Climatic Research [...]

  21. By Yamalian yawns on Jun 30, 2012 at 12:07 PM

    [...] claims of scientific misconduct and dishonesty are buzzing around the blogosphere, once again initiated by Steve McIntyre, and unfailingly and uncritically promoted by the usual supporters. However this [...]

  22. [...] Yamal FOI Sheds New Light on Flawed Data (climateaudit.org) [...]

  23. [...] the more interesting ones. This is an updated reconstruction by Briffa, famous for having authored one of the hockey sticks used by the IPCC. Apparently the stick has now [...]

  24. […] 4 on) to their Yamal post of May 11, which chronologically was screeching in fury at my post of May 6 about regional reconstructions.) The figure below compares the Briffa superstick to the CA […]

  25. […] pointing out that Briffa et al’s results would be different from what McIntyre had put up (on May 6 2012) (as the figure below demonstrates), and then using a calculation made on May 15 2012 to claim I […]

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