In the Mail

I’ve reported before that Science decided not to require Osborn and Briffa 2006 to provide supporting measurement data for their Taimyr, Tornetrask and “Polar Urals” (Yamal) chronologies. While I disagree with that decision and may pursue the matter further with them, I asked Osborn to voluntarily provide the measurement data. I received a reply from Osborn today.

On April 28, 2006, I wrote to Osborn as follows:

While we’re at it, Science said that you did not directly use the measurement data for Polar Urals, Tornetrask, Yamal and Taimyr, but chronologies previously published and therefore took no responsibility for obtaining this data, directing me back to you or to the original journal. While I disagree with this decision and may pursue it with Science if necessary, to simplify matters would you voluntarily provide the measurement data used for the above sites in calculating the chronology in Briffa [2000]. Thanks, Steve McIntyre

Nearly a month passed and Osborn wrote back to say that he did not have the measurement data.

Steve – Science are correct to say that I “did not directly use the measurement data for” those sites. Not only did I not use them, I don’t actually have a copy of them. So I cannot help you. Tim

Now you’ll notice that he didn’t actually say that Briffa didn’t have the data. So I sent the following today to Briffa:

Dear Dr Briffa,
On April 28, 2006, I asked Tim Osborn for the measurement data for Polar Urals, Tornetrask, Yamal and Taimyr sites, supporting the chronologies used in Osborn and Briffa [2006]. Osborn says that he does not have the data, but did not say that you didn’t have the data. Do you have the data? If so would you please comply with the request below and voluntarily provide the measurement data used in Briffa 2000, and relied upon in Osborn and Briffa 2006, for these sites. Thank you for your attention. Steve McIntyre

I’ve also asked Osborn to identify the 387 sites used in the MXD network, serially used in 6 different journals without them ever providing a listing of sites. I originally made the request 2 years ago and re-iterated it most recently last month. Osborn indicated that he would answer, but hasn’t so far.

Update: Briffa promptly replied that the data was produced by Swedish and Russian colleagues and that he would seek their permission. Why wouldn’t they have done that when the request first came in from Science? This is now how many emails and back-and-forth. So we’ll see. I asked him again for the list of sites in the 387-site MXD network and for a release from confidentiality for his explanation of the discrepancy in correlations between foxtail chronologies and gridcell temperature.


  1. Pat Frank
    Posted May 23, 2006 at 11:15 AM | Permalink

    It’s kicking, screaming, and heel-dragging all the way isn’t it. So Osborn doesn’t have the data used in the paper on which he’s first author, and doesn’t volunteer information on where that data may be.

    As a scientist, if someone asked me for data, which I didn’t have but which were used in one of my papers, I’d know exactly who has it and would volunteer the name of the collaborator from whom it might be obtained. And, in fact, I’d be an advocate of the requestor in getting that data from my collaborator. There is no substitute for demonstration in science. I’d want all my conclusions to be clearly demonstrable from the data. Sharing data is the scientifically requisite way of demonstrating that one’s own conclusions are at least reasonable, if not correct (there’s no dishonor in science for being thoughtfully wrong).

    Steve, when all is said and done, and the scientific shouting is over, sharing your cumulative experiences in getting the various data sets would be an enormously telling story all by itself. The field has been totally corrupted with politics, and evidence of that shows up in the hostility and deliberate lack of cooperation shown towards any critical regard, i.e., towards you, in short.

  2. Steve Sadlov
    Posted May 24, 2006 at 10:10 AM | Permalink

    Are the Ruskis fabricating data in order to mess with the West? Inquiring minds want to know. It’s not an unreasonable question, since they’ve done it before.

  3. maksimovich
    Posted May 28, 2006 at 12:29 AM | Permalink

    I think the original datasets were from the Ekaterinburg Institute of plant and animal ecology RF.Stefan Shiyatov,Rashid Hantemirov.M.Naurzbaev,H.Grudd supplied the sets 1-1997 to Briffa .

  4. Steve McIntyre
    Posted May 28, 2006 at 6:51 AM | Permalink

    The original data sets are undoubtedly from those authors. However, none of those authors was a coauthor of Briffa (2000), which produced site chronologies using Briffa’s method. These in turn have gone on to be used in nearly every single subsequent study. Sometimes data has been used without permission – e.g. Moberg. But if people want to use data in big multiproxy studies, then they should be able to produce it. If they can’t produce it, don’t use it. It’s pretty simple.

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