The Euro Hockey Team and Yamal

Readers of this blog are familiar with the Yamal subsitution. Briefly, Briffa et al 1995 reported in Nature that 1032 was the coldest year of the millennium based on no more than 3 poorly dated and short cores in the 11th century.

Subsequently new cores were dated to the 11th century by Schweingruber, resulting in the opposite situation – a very warm 11th century. Instead of reporting the new information, Keith Briffa in Briffa 2000 seamlessly inserted another site – Yamal – over 100 km away – indeed this site is sometimes denoted “Polar Urals” – without reporting the “bad” results from the Polar Urals.

However, Esper didn’t get the memo and used the Polar Urals update in his 2002 reconstruction. This resulted in a rather elevated MWP in Esper, which he attempted to “solve” by using not one but two foxtail sites to lower the MWP.

By itself, using the Polar Urals Update, instead of the Yamla substitution, gives a high MWP to (say) the Briffa 2000 reconstruction. So how did the Euro Hockey Team grasp this particular nettle? Here’s what they say:

the Polar Urals data of ECS2002 [Esper], MBH1999 and the Tornetraesk data of MSH2005 [Moberg] have been omitted in favour of data from the same sites used by JBB1998 and ECS2002, respectively (i.e. taking the first used series in each case).

In what other field would people use the older data instead of the newer data? The audacity of the Team in moving the pea under the thimble is sometimes breathtaking.

But even this doesn’t do justice to the schmozzle in these two sites where the gang that can’t shoot straight has managed to pin down the geographical location of Tornetrask to between 58 and 68N and 15 and 23E, getting it in three different countries.

Team Table 1 lists 4 different versions of Tornetrask under different alter egos. The following 4 series all include the same locations:

#11 “Northern Norway” of Hegerl et al, ascribed lat-long of 65N, 15E is actually Tornetrask !?!.
#6 “Tornetraesk (Sweden)” of Moberg ascribed lat-long of 58N, 21E is Tornetrask
#17 “Tornetraesk Sweden” of Esper also ascribed lat-long of 58N, 21E is Tornetrask. This version is used in the All-Star reconstruction.
#19 “Fennoscandia” of Jones et al 1998 and MBH, ascribed lat-long of 68N, 23E is also Tornetrask. This near-duplicate version is also used in the All-Star reconstruction.

Thus, we have a range of estimates for the location of Tornetrask going from 58 to 68N and from 15E to 23E. The “oldest” version of these is the version in MBH/Jones et al 1998. But in this case they additionally use the Esper version, making two versions used from this site. The Moberg version appears to be the Briffa 2000 version. These are supposed to be “independent” series.

Team Table 1 lists also list 4 versions from the Polar Urals area.

#21 “Northern Urals” of Jones et al 1998, ascribed lat-long of 66N, 65E (correctly), is used in the All-Star reconstruction. This version is also used in MBH99. However the Team incorrectly says that MBH used the version of Esper et al.
#5. “Polar Urals” ascribed to both Esper et al and MBH, lat,long 65N, 67E. The two studies have different versions. The Esper version is the update with high MWP and is definitely not used in the All-Star reconstruction.
#20. “Yamal” is from Moberg et al, following Briffa 2000. This has a marked HS-shape and is used.
#10. “Western Siberia” from Hegerl et al, ascribed a lat-long of 60N, 60E (?!) can be approximated by averaging scaled versions the Esper Polar Urals version and the Yamal series. Mangazeja is also supposed to be used and some other still unspecified sites. The inclusion of the Polar Urals update gives a certain HS-ness to this series – which is not used.

1) why would they use two different versions of both Tornetrask and Urals? (Or for that matter 2 foxtail series plus 2 bristlecone series?) This is out of only 18 series.

2) If they used the Tornestrask version in Esper in addition to the Tornetrask version in MBH/Jones, why didn’t they do the same thing with Polar Urals? (You know the answer to that one.)

3) Did they ever do any runs using the Esper Polar Urals update before deciding not to use it? If so, what were the results of these runs?


  1. A. Fritz
    Posted Oct 27, 2006 at 2:17 PM | Permalink

    I think you guys derive blog topics based on how many times you can call a group of scientists the Hockey Team. I think you all get a lot of knee slaps out of it (I admit, its a cute little nickname and Ive chuckled in the past when reading it). However, I think that sometimes the facetious tone and nature of your posts is distracting to the math and science youre trying to prove, and readers that maybe arent so “familiar with this blog” would be more prone to stick around and read for a while if the attitude was a little different. Just a thought.

  2. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Oct 27, 2006 at 2:46 PM | Permalink

    re: #1

    And I think warmers would do well to develop either a sense of humor or a multi-millimeter thick skin. In the first place, we didn’t invent the term, “hockey stick” to describe the Mannian curve. Nor has it been disavowed by the team. And what other collective noun would you use than “team” to describe a group of people enamored of a hockeystick shaped curve?

    Yankee doodlers went to town on a multi-proxy
    set of graphs and came up with a curve set in epoxy.

    Hockey-stickers keep it up, bristle-cones are handy
    if you want to keep the curve IPCC eye candy.

  3. bender
    Posted Oct 27, 2006 at 2:57 PM | Permalink

    I believe the phrase “hockey team” is Mann’s own term (from an interview in Mother Jones or some such magazine). Is it not?

  4. Hans Erren
    Posted Oct 27, 2006 at 2:58 PM | Permalink

    My atlas puts Tornetràƒ⣳k Lake in northern Sweden (close to the Norwegian boundary) on the railway between Kiruna and Narvik
    Position 67.627792°N 17.753253°E,17.753253

    You know why they sampled the site?

    Among the rather homogeneous low birch tundra occur stands of Pinus sylvestris L.forest, most frequently in the vicinity of the Tornetrask railway station and in the Abisko Valley. These are thought to be relict stands of pine, as years with sufficiently warm temperatures for this species occur very seldom. However, our studies indicate that in stands of pine forest around Tornetrask there are numerous young trees. Sonesson (1979) came to the same conclusion.

  5. welikerocks
    Posted Oct 27, 2006 at 3:05 PM | Permalink

    I for one like the facetious tone as it plows through the schmozzle. 🙂

    SteveM said: “In what other field would people use the older data instead of the newer data”

    I just watched a show on PBS -a special about the Dark Ages. Scientists including dendro guys were creating a hypothisis for what happened to the climate or what event occured to create the period of the Darks Ages.
    Info on the PBS site (Gordon C. Jacoby Senior Research Scientist Tree-Ring Laboratory,Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory was one of scientists)

    They came up with this hypothesis from using many many many differnet samples of tree rings from many different countries, all over the world. One scientist mentioned studying just the trees in Ireland for over 14 yrs. They showed tree ring labs with rows and rows of shelves and hundreds of boxes containing samples…

    There was no sense given there that tree ring samples are rare or few and far-between either!

  6. bender
    Posted Oct 27, 2006 at 3:09 PM | Permalink

    The paragraph before that:

    In summary, the quoted literature suggests that coniferous forests accumulated organic C during recent decades and were a C sink in its global budget. The sink is a consequence of a combination of regrowing forests, CO2 fertilization and N fertilization from poluted rain.

  7. bender
    Posted Oct 27, 2006 at 3:12 PM | Permalink

    Re #5

    There was no sense given there that tree ring samples are rare or few and far-between either!

    Don’t be fooled by the boxes and boxes of samples. I assure you: millenial-scale chronologies are few and far between.

  8. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 27, 2006 at 3:15 PM | Permalink

    #1. They seem to think that it’s OK to make outright false statements about me and climate peer reviewers seem unequal to the challenge of identifying such false statements. So excuse me, if I’m sarcastic. I don’t notice many climate scientists standing up and rebutting falsehoods from the Team.

    BTW the Team is not my term. It’s their term. Mann said that we weren’t in a dispute with a hockey stick, but with a Hockey Team. I’ll admit that I seized on the term, but they originated it.

  9. Hans Erren
    Posted Oct 27, 2006 at 3:18 PM | Permalink

    Tornetrask Hegerl
    65N, 15E,15
    South of Tornetràƒ⣳k Lake

    this is very funny:
    Tornetrask Moberg
    58N, 21E,21
    In the middle of the Baltic Sea 🙂

    Fennoscandia Jones
    68N, 23E,23
    Closer to the finnish border, but east of the Tornetràƒ⣳k-Soppero fjàƒ⣬lurskog naturreservat.

  10. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 27, 2006 at 3:28 PM | Permalink

    HAns, do you know how to mark all three locations on a map at the same time?

  11. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 27, 2006 at 3:30 PM | Permalink

    These mislocations are very small beer compared to MBH98 precipitation proxies. They located PAris precipitation in New England; Toulouse precpitation in South Carolina. I’m not sure what precipitaiton series is located in Bombay, but it’s not Bombay; I think it might be Philadelphia. Nature refused to require Mann to identify the sources of this data – he said he gfot it from NOAA (orginally he said Jones and Bradley 1993) and they refused to require him to be more specific.

  12. welikerocks
    Posted Oct 27, 2006 at 3:46 PM | Permalink

    #7 Bender. Of course, that makes sense duh.
    Anyway, I guess the impression I got from this show, was that they were studying one pin point in time slowly and carefully-the Dark Ages from alot of sources, compared to the Hockey Stickers who span the globe over a bigger points in time and make bigger assumptions, with less sources then I think are available to them (like never using geologists or people who can read maps LOL), and same data over and over again.

  13. Hans Erren
    Posted Oct 27, 2006 at 3:51 PM | Permalink

  14. Posted Oct 27, 2006 at 4:03 PM | Permalink

    Using Google Earth we can see that these people are expert geographers.

  15. Hans Erren
    Posted Oct 27, 2006 at 4:15 PM | Permalink

    even better

    paste this text in the box

    Tornetrask Schweingruber,Schweingruber NOAA WDC, 68N,19E, green
    Northern Norway Hegerl,Northern Norway Hegerl,65N,15E,red
    Tornetraesk (Sweden) Moberg/Esper, Tornetraesk (Sweden) Moberg/Esper,58N, 21E, red
    Fennoscandia Jones,Fennoscandia Jones,68N, 23E, yellow

    oops hegerl is also wrong…

  16. John A
    Posted Oct 27, 2006 at 4:21 PM | Permalink

    According to Google Earth

    1. 65N 15E is approximately 317km from Lake Tornetrask
    2. 68N 23E is approximately 225km from Lake Tornetrask
    3. 58N 21E is approximately 1085km from Lake Tornetrask, but is the home of the lesser known Baltic Undersea Pine Forest.

    I declare Jan Esper the winner.

  17. Hans Erren
    Posted Oct 27, 2006 at 4:30 PM | Permalink

    this link

  18. A. Fritz
    Posted Oct 27, 2006 at 6:19 PM | Permalink

    Re 5: I definitely agree it makes for good entertainment.

  19. Gerald Machnee
    Posted Oct 27, 2006 at 7:19 PM | Permalink

    Re humour – keep it up – it makes the reading MUCH better and easier.
    I tend to get lost in detail after detail.

  20. Jeff Weffer
    Posted Oct 27, 2006 at 7:31 PM | Permalink

    I just watched a documentary last night that showed there was strong global cooling effect in 535AD.

    The ice cores show a record increase in SO4 gases trapped in the ice exactly at 535AD. SO4 of course is the signal given off by a very large volcanoe.

    535AD is also the start of the dark ages, when civilization in Europe collapsed and even the ability to read and write was almost lost.

    The Holocene climate optimum, the Roman warm period, the Dark Ages, the Medieval Warm Period, the Little Ice Age, the 20th Century warm period, the Ice Ages.

    Why is it so difficult for climatologists to accept the history of the climate? It is extremely strange to say the least.

  21. Gerald Machnee
    Posted Oct 27, 2006 at 7:43 PM | Permalink

    Sometime in the next week the CBC program “Fifth Estate” is doing a piece on Global warming or related topic.

  22. Posted Oct 27, 2006 at 7:43 PM | Permalink

    It is nice that the people used various values in between 58N and 68N to make a good compromise and a good scientific consensus. But the consensus about the global warming should also cover the Southern Hemisphere: otherwise the septics like Steve can misuse the absence of warming on SH. So someone from the team should also write a paper with these coordinates:

    Tornetrask 45S, 67E

  23. Tim Ball
    Posted Oct 27, 2006 at 7:58 PM | Permalink

    Re #1
    There is a sequence demonstrated by #1 to get the first response to a new post and divert you from the issue. It is invariably a jab, complaint or facetious attack on Steve M because he is consistently exposing the copious errors that exceed what would be reasonable in any human endeavour. The number of errors, evasions, mistatements, omissions and manipulations in the work of the 43 Wegman identified far exceeds what would occur by chance. Fortunately, most of us will not be so easily deterred. Didn’t Shakespeare say “The truth will out.”

  24. Armand MacMurray
    Posted Oct 27, 2006 at 9:53 PM | Permalink

    Re: #16

    3. 58N 21E is approximately 1085km from Lake Tornetrask, but is the home of the lesser known Baltic Undersea Pine Forest.

    Hey, the amber has to come from somewhere… Just think of the benefits of splicing in a multi-million-year-old chronology.

  25. Hans Erren
    Posted Oct 28, 2006 at 2:50 AM | Permalink

    Note that the coordinate 65N, 15E has an uncertainty of 111 km in north-south and
    111km x cos(65) = 47 km in east west direction.

    Reporting sample coordinates to the nearest minute (as is done in the WDC archive) reduces the uncertainty to 1.8 km N-S and 760 m E-W. Of course the reported coordinates need to free from clerical errors in the first place. IMHO typically a job for a peer reviewer to spot these.

  26. Jean S
    Posted Oct 28, 2006 at 4:19 AM | Permalink

    I find this use of (old) Tornetrask data just amazing… at least they won’t be gaining any friends with that!

    Tornetrask lake is only about 100km (!) from Lake Tsuolbjavri (Finland, 68.41N, 22.05E) from which there are
    several high quolity reconstructions, most recent being:
    WeckstràƒÆ’à‚⵭, J., A. Korhola, P. EràƒÆ’à‚⣳tàƒÆ’à‚⴬ and L. HolmstràƒÆ’à‚⵭: Temperature patterns over the past eight centuries in Northern Fennoscandia inferred from sedimentary diatoms. Quaternary Research, 66, 78–86, July 2006.
    Also described here.

    There is also a group, lead by profs SeppàƒÆ’à‚⢠and Eronen, who has many pollen-based reconstructions
    all over Scandinavia, see here. The site contains the low-frequency reconstruction data (for several thousands years!) for the following locations:
    Flarken (Central Sweden 58º33’N, 13º40’E), Laihalampi (Southern Finland 61º29’N, 26º04’E), Toskaljavri (Northern Finland 69º12’N, 21º28’E), and (10000 year reconstruction) Tsuolbmajavri (Northern Finland 68º41’N, 22º05’E). The data seems to be plotted here.

    Moreover, there exists now a high-quality (7500 year!) tree-ring reconstruction from the Finnish Lapland. This LUSTIA is joint project of the tree ring community in Finland. Some of their publications are listed on the site. The really strange thing here (with respect to this “Euro Hockey Team”) is that Briffa is one of the authors in one of their main (2002) publication, Malcolm Hughes was visiting in July 2004, and now Jan Esper just a few weeks ago. Still no reference to their work… I wonder why. From the recent publications of the group, I highly recommend:

    Helama, S., Timonen,M., Lindholm, M., MerilàƒÆ’à‚⣩nen, J. & Eronen, M.: Extracting long-period climate fluctuations from tree-ring chronologies over timescales of centuries to millennia. Int. J. Climatol. 25 (13): 1767-1779, 2005.

    The article presents a highly critical review on the RCS method, and proposes another method:

    the new approach was much more succesful in producing the tree-ring variability at multi-centennial and even millennial timescales

    Finally, if someone is interested in comparing these northern Scandinavian (Lapland) reconstructions, there exists a long term instrumental record from Tornedalen (~ 66N 24E):

    Per Klingbjer and Anders Moberg:A composite monthly temperature record from Tornedalen in northern Sweden, 1802-2002, Int. J. Climatol. 23 (12): 1465-1494, 2005.

    The monthly means series can be downloaded from here.

  27. Chris[topher] Chittleborough
    Posted Oct 28, 2006 at 10:33 AM | Permalink

    The RealClimate group do not like being called the Hockey Team. When Mann used the term, he was referring to papers, not to people. (He was making a joke along the lines of “not just one hockey stick, it’s a whole hockey team!”. And I thought my jokes were lame…)

    I found this out through editing Wikipedia. After I used the term “Hockey Team” in an article, William M Connolley was very unhappy with me. (Though, come to think of it, I can’t say that I’ve ever seen WMC showing any sign of happiness …)

  28. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 28, 2006 at 10:52 AM | Permalink

    The Realclimate group may not like it but they’ve used the term to refer to people when it suited them. After the publication of Huybers and von Storch, realclimate stated that the score was “Hockey Team 2, M&M 0” – people not reconstructions.

    I posted on the Origin of the Term Hockey Team here after said Connolley incorrectly tried to attribute this term to us and say that the concept was a figment of our imagination.

  29. Posted Oct 28, 2006 at 11:42 AM | Permalink

    Re #27

    Connelley is just very unhappy with any edit in climate science which does not conform to his very narrow POV.

  30. bender
    Posted Oct 28, 2006 at 12:07 PM | Permalink

    Re #38
    Incorrect attribution… from the Team? 🙂

  31. bender
    Posted Oct 28, 2006 at 12:42 PM | Permalink

    Speaking of “incorrect attribution” … #30 was for #28, not #38. (Can I be a team player now?)

  32. bender
    Posted Oct 28, 2006 at 12:56 PM | Permalink

    Re #27
    If the home team is winning, then hurray for the team. If the away team is winning then they are just being immature: the home “team”, and even the contest, are just a figment of the away team’s imagination.

    AAGW double-standard #14.

    Hey, it worked for the droids in Star Wars.

  33. Ken Fritsch
    Posted Oct 28, 2006 at 1:06 PM | Permalink

    Re: # 1

    However, I think that sometimes the facetious tone and nature of your posts is distracting to the math and science youre trying to prove, and readers that maybe arent so “familiar with this blog” would be more prone to stick around and read for a while if the attitude was a little different.

    A. Fritz, after all is said and done I find Steve M’s (and that of other more perceptive commenters at this blog) restraint rather remarkable when viewing the following excerpt.
    When I first read it I thought the authors have to be kidding; they cannot be seriously doing that with data that are so susceptible to data snooping in the first place and doing it so nonchalantly and without a detailed explanation. Steve M said in concluding “In what other field would people use the older data instead of the newer data? The audacity of the Team in moving the pea under the thimble is sometimes breathtaking.” At the same time he gave background information supporting that remark.

    Tell me, A. Fritz, does that truly bother you more than the excerpt listed directly below and given the importance in the AGW debate that the authors evidently place on this paper (see second paper excerpt below).

    ..the Polar Urals data of ECS2002 [Esper], MBH1999 and the Tornetraesk data of MSH2005 [Moberg] have been omitted in favour of data from the same sites used by JBB1998 and ECS2002, respectively (i.e. taking the first used series in each case).

    From the excerpt listed below, I think it is significant to note the importance the authors place on this paper’s results/conclusions in affirming the AGW case. That sentence would indicate to me that the details of proxy selection would be expected to receive serious and detailed consideration.

    Climate models are instrumental in addressing both questions, but they are still burdened with some level of uncertainty and there is a need for more detailed knowledge of the behaviour of the actual climate on multi-centennial timescales both in order to evaluate the climate models and in order to address the above questions directly.

  34. Hans Erren
    Posted Oct 28, 2006 at 2:21 PM | Permalink

    re 6:

    The sink is a consequence of a combination of regrowing forests, CO2 fertilization and N fertilization from poluted rain.

    The source of the pollution at Tornetràƒ⣳k:

    The Iron Ore Line

    The Iron Ore line, which runs from Luleàƒ⣠and Riksgràƒ⣮sen and from there to Narvik in Norway, is some 500 km long and carries ore trains, passenger trains and goods trains. The northern spur (Kiruna-Narvik) carries 15 million net tonnes of ore per year, whereas the southern spur (Luleàƒ⣭Boden-Gàƒ⣬livare-Kiruna) carries 7 million net tonnes. The Iron Ore Line is at present being upgraded to carry trains with a 30-tonne axle load compared with today’s 25 tonne. Trains are becoming longer, fewer, faster and heavier. The possibility for further trains, as well as the time available for maintenance, is increasing at the same time as energy consumption is decreasing.

  35. Mats Holmstrom
    Posted Oct 28, 2006 at 5:20 PM | Permalink

    Re #34:
    Living not far from Tornetràƒ⣳k, I can definitely say that any pollution is non-local. It is a very sparsely populated and clean area. As a Hans notes there is a railroad transporting ore from Kiruna to Narvik, but it is an electric line, and most of the ore is processed in the form of pellets, thus there is very little dust from the transport. Any pollution is airborne substances from far away that rain out.

  36. Hans Erren
    Posted Oct 28, 2006 at 5:49 PM | Permalink

    The line was completed in 1902 and the swedish part was electrified between 1915 and 1922, the norwegian part completed in 1932, that’s 30 years of heavy nonelectrical transport to a sample site that is almost on the railway line. I’d say plenty enough time to fertilise the area.

  37. Mats Holmstrom
    Posted Oct 28, 2006 at 7:05 PM | Permalink

    Re #35:
    Yes you are correct that it was not elektrified from the start. If I read the link you provided correctly it seems that all trains were electric after March 1, 1915 from Kiruna to the Norwegian border (the part that passes Tornetràƒ⣳k). Then it becomes interesting how long the fertilization persisted and how far from the line the cores were taken. Btw, do you read swedish, since the link was in swedish?

  38. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted Oct 29, 2006 at 4:10 AM | Permalink

    Steve M., the “Yamal” tree ring data at the WCDC identified as russ006 is shown as being at 66N, 69E.

    Is this the Yamal series used? It gives ring widths from 1535 to 1963. HadCRUT3 has data from 1883 onwards from that gridcell, and Yamal shows a small but significant correlation with the instrumental record R^2 = 0.14, p = 0.03.

    Looking at each half of the instrumental data, there is no significant correlation with the earlier half (R^2 = 0.04, p = 0.17), but their is with the later half (R^2 = 0.31, p = 0.03).

    Thus, if we are trying to use the Yamal data as a proxy for historical temperature … we’d better not be using it for the temperature in the area of the tree during the period from 1880 to 1920.


  39. Hans Erren
    Posted Oct 29, 2006 at 5:24 AM | Permalink

    the magic of systran online translation:

    The above figure shows the amount of ore as transported on the malmbanan during the years 1888 – 1987
    Steam trains ran between 1902 and 1915 with 735 tonne per train having 21 lorries of 35 tonne.
    Electric trains initially pulled 30 lorries, in 1920: 44 lorries, the record was set in 1967 with 51 lorries.

    I would be very interested in chemical soil analysis results at Tornetràƒ⣳k.

  40. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 29, 2006 at 5:29 AM | Permalink

    #38. Willis, the source of the Yamal series is not russ006. I’ll do separate post on this topic as it’s amusing. But I haven’t considered russ006 in this context and will look at it again.

  41. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted Oct 29, 2006 at 6:59 PM | Permalink

    Thanks, Steve, I look forward to your unraveling of the mystery. That was the series that came up when I did a search on “Yamal” at the WCDC … go figure.

    Where can I get a copy of the actual Yamal series?


  42. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 29, 2006 at 7:08 PM | Permalink

    Willis, the Briffa 2000 version (used in all studies except Esper) is at .

    HAntemirov and Shiyatov archived a Yamal chronology and reconstruction at WDCP here . It is completely different from the Briffa version. In several recent publications (Moberg et al 2005; Hegerl et al 2006; Euro Hockey TEam) referring to Yamal, only Hantemirov and Shiyatov 2002 is cited as a source; there is no mention whatever of Briffa’s “re-calibration.” OF course, citing Briffa would seem, shall we say, less independent?

  43. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted Nov 1, 2006 at 5:38 PM | Permalink

    Steve M., thanks for the link. I went and got the Hantemirov and Shiyatov paper, available here. One very interesting thing about the paper is the following quote:

    … it is necessary to stress again that
    the majority of constituent tree-ring series forming the
    chronology range in length from about 100 to 300 years (on
    average 180 rings). This fact, and the method of standardization
    used here to remove non-climatic trends that are of equivalent
    length or longer than the series in question, mean that the
    calibrated reconstruction will not represent multicentennial or
    longer variations in temperature, despite the total length of chronology
    (e.g., Cook et al., 1995). However, €™? fluctuations of summer
    temperatures on annual, decadal and part-century timescales are

    Can’t use it for multicentennial or longer variations in temperature … hmmm. Makes me wonder how many tree-ring series have this caveat …

    Also, they make no attempt to reconstruct annual temperatures, only June-July average temperatures, from the data. This is because the correlation with local temperatures (from the nearest station, Salehard) in other months is poorer than June (correlation coefficient 0.35) or July (correlation coefficient 0.63).

    Accordingly, I thought I’d look at the correlation between June-July instrumental 30-90N temperatures with full year instrumental temperatures for the 30-90N area. The correlation is good (0.75) and significant. The 95% confidence interval between the regression based on June-July and the instrumental data is 0.43°C.

    It gets worse. The correlation between the Hantemirov reconstruction of June-July average temperatures and the nearest station (Salehard) is decent, 0.57, but the 95% confidence interval for their reconstruction is ± 2.9°C. However, because of the limitation they cited (above), they make no attempt to reconstruct millennial scale temperatures using tree-rings, only using tree-line changes.


    I can find no references on exactly how Briffa “reprocessed” the Hantemirov data. Hantemirov explicitly warns that his tree-ring data cannot be used for millennial scale summer temperature reconstructions. Hantemirov uses tree-line reconstruction for that purpose. I suspect the difference is here:

    The width of the annual growth rings in many tree species
    depends, among other things, on the width of one or more previous
    rings (manifest as statistically measurable autocorrelation).
    This is due to the degree of biological persistence that follows
    from extended physiological processes such as needle formation
    and longevity, and storage of materials (Fritts, 1976). Rather than
    using a lagged regression model, incorporating predictors from
    years prior to (and sometimes following) the predictand climate
    year (e.g., Briffa et al., 1983), the chronology was instead statistically
    prewhitened and the residuals from a general autoregression
    model were used for estimating past climate variability. This
    means that the resulting reconstructions are representative of
    interannual to multidecadal timescales only and will not show
    century- to millennial-scale changes. These are explored later
    using the evidence of tree-line changes.

    Note that the tree-line reconstruction gives very different results from Briffa’s reconstruction.

    It is worthwhile to estimate the errors in attempting to use the Hantemirov June-July reconstruction to get to annual local (Salehard) temperatures.

    Hantemirov’s June-July reconstruction has a very large 95% confidence interval with regards to local instrumental temperatures, ±2.9°C (1883-1996). In addition, the 95% confidence interval of estimating Salehard annual temperatures from the Salehard June-July average temperatures is ±2.4°C.

    However, the standard deviation of the annual temperature average in Salehard is only 1.4°C … so the attempt to reconstruct the Salehard annual temperature from the Hantemirov data tells us nothing. In fact, the correlation of the Hantemirov June-July reconstruction with the Salehard annual temperature is only 0.18, and is not statistically significant (P = 0.07). The correlation of the Briffa reconstruction with annual temperatures is worse (0.06).

    Thus, while the Hantemirov reconstruction is large and statistically significant regarding June-July local temperatures, it is small and not significant regarding annual local temperatures. The Briffa reconstruction, on the other hand, has no correlation (0.007) with local temperatures.

    Since the attempt to scale up Hantemirov from June-July to annual fails, I cannot see why the series should be used for a global reconstruction. And since the Briffa version has no relationship with local annual temperatures, I cannot see why it used either.


  44. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Nov 1, 2006 at 5:49 PM | Permalink

    The Briffa re-processing of Yamal took place in Briffa (Quat Sci Rev 2000). He used an RCS de-trending method – which is essentially developing one growth curve for the site and using that for all trees (rather than trying to detrend growth on a tree-by-tree basis).

    Briffa does not discuss north-south migrations of the tree line at Yamal which are significant (the medieval tree line was further north.) Of course any adjustment for tree line movements would reduce the 20th century relative to the MWP and thus what are the chances of Briffa making such an adjustment? Zero.

  45. jae
    Posted Nov 1, 2006 at 6:40 PM | Permalink

    One should give credit where credit is due. You gotta give the Hockey Teams credit for toughness and persistence; they keep right on playing, despite all the butt-kicking they are getting.

  46. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Nov 1, 2006 at 7:19 PM | Permalink

    RE: #45 – But sadly, in mainstream mass society, AGW alarmism is still the typical core belief. It will take many decades before any overturning of the “climate science” orthodoxy translates into changes in public perception and public policy. And I am assuming a lot here. There are some major heavy duty players ready to counterattack. Skeptics may end up silenced.

  47. Ken Robinson
    Posted Nov 1, 2006 at 9:28 PM | Permalink

    Re: 45

    Jae, I wish this were actually true. Yes, the Team’s shortcomings are fully exposed here on CA and in that sense they’re very deservedly getting their collective butt kicked. But CA is not where they’re playing, and they don’t hugely care what gets said here. In the arenas that count, public perception and policy influence, they are winning going away.

    The Team is winning because they dominate Science and Nature, and their papers are supported by the major scientific institutions (NAS, NRC, IPCC, and more). If I were a reporter or a politician, I would consider these to be highly reputable sources of information. Any outside observer, regardless of his political outlook, who lacks the full details that are exposed in places like CA is likely to conclude that these papers are in essence accurate. I would.

    I enjoy CA, and the discussions and analyses that provide so much insight into the incredibly lousy state of climate science. At the same time, that very lousy science is what informs policy. This will not change unless and until the lousy science is directly confronted and exposed in the journals, and forced to improve itself. Steve M has heard this many times (way too often from TCO) and I’m reluctant to bring it up again because I know he’s a busy guy who’s already done a great deal. But the point remains true.

    CA has been, and hopefully will always be, an invaluable forum. I believe its value will be even greater as a companion to a large body of published work. But by itself, CA primarily informs “skeptics” (and curmudgeons like myself), not the public at large or the policy makers (with some notable exceptions, granted). By itself and lacking the ability to reference published, peer-reviewed articles to support its points, the site is easily misinterpreted as an exercise in character assassination and a breeding ground for cranks and “denialists”. As a companion to a body of published work, CA’s credibility would be much enhanced.


  48. bender
    Posted Nov 1, 2006 at 10:10 PM | Permalink

    These are very good points. The challenge is that the literature (i.e. editors, reviewers, readers) strongly disfavors destructive commentary (even if it is correct) and strongly favors innovative, progressive work (even if it is crude). There is currently little appetite for deconstruction in climate science. Auditing is inherently backward-looking, not forward-looking. So for the foreseeable future there will continue to be a large gap between what CA writes and what the innovators read.

  49. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Nov 1, 2006 at 10:48 PM | Permalink

    I think you are all thinking a bit too pessimistically. Think avalance. Layer after layer of analysis is building up here and in other places. The Hockey team is blithely skating on thinking that nothing can ever stop their power play. But little cracks appear here and there and those who are uneasy are looking a bit more closely, first here, then there. Eventually one last weakness will be exposed, perhaps in conjunction with a political campaign or from a reporter hungry for fame or even from a killer paper in a second tier journal which can’t be overlooked or hidden. Then all the built up analysis and the sleazy actions will start to slide downhill. When it happens it may be very swift and complete. A lot of us were hoping the NAS report combined with the Wegman report would start it, but it may just have been a more noticable crack appearing.

    But I don’t think the main event will take decades. A few years at most.

  50. MarkR
    Posted Nov 1, 2006 at 11:59 PM | Permalink

    Whatever is happening with the Congressional Report?

  51. James Lane
    Posted Nov 2, 2006 at 2:19 AM | Permalink

    Interesting discussion. I don’t feel confident in predicting how the public policy issues will play out.

    That said, I think the events most likely to turn serious scrutiny on the quality of climate science are those where the policy responses directly impact the public wallet. If the costs of a serious effort toward carbon containment are as large as those suggested by, say, the Stern report, the debate must eventually become political (I know, it’s already political, but in a different sense). That’s when alternatives to the consensus will get some oxygen. (This process seems to be beginning in the UK).

    Another important factor is what actually happens to the temperature trend over the next decade, for reasons that should be obvious. I actually believe that there is an anthro component to current warming, so a continued rising trend wouldn’t surprise me, but if the record flatlines or cools it will wither the credibility of the warmers, and sadly do great damage to public confidence in science.

    Although this example only partly played out in the public arena, I’m reminded of the book “Teller’s War” by William Broad, which chronicles how Edward “father of the H-bomb” Teller wildly over-sold the “Star Wars” SDI concept to the Reagan administration, resulting in the expenditure of many billions of dollars to very little effect.

  52. TAC
    Posted Nov 2, 2006 at 7:57 AM | Permalink

    #46 through #51 I agree with almost everything that’s been written. However, it is important to note that (at least in the U.S.) the “warmers” have yet to influence the “national agenda”. They have made a lot of noise and gotten plenty of attention, but this is because the AGW issue makes for great politics, entertaining theater, and sells newspapers (“World Ends Tomorrow!!! Read about it on page 12”). But when it comes to setting “real policies”, the U.S. national leadership (including Clinton/Gore, and every Senate Democrat, btw) is too savvy to adopt the costly recommendations put forth by AGW alarmists. As long as the “warmers” restrict their demands to absurdly expensive (politically and economically) changes to our way of life, rather than sensible solutions that we might agree to, nothing much will happen and the debate will go on. This is not a bad thing.

    A cynic might note ironically that preserving the status quo is actually in the interest of the very people who currently lead the charge for changing the status quo. Having achieved prominence in the current “game,” they have something to lose if they get their way (for one thing, they might be held accountable). Incidentally, the same sort of arguments can be made about the politics surrounding nearly all social issues in the U.S.

    Does this constitute grounds for revolution? Not at all. The political system, as absurd as this sounds, basically works. Though not an expert on this topic, I have some up-close perspective gained from time spent as a Senate staffer and on a few political campaigns (including a Presidential campaign in Iowa). IMHO, as awful as the process often looks, and acknowledging that crazy things happen from time to time, democratic government seems to be essentially self-correcting. I am confident that things will turn out alright in the end.

    In any case, it seems likely that fossil fuels will continue to be burned, CO2 concentrations will continue to rise, and we will continue to conduct this large experiment employing our planet’s atmosphere. I am hopeful that in a few decades we will know for sure whether the 2006 climate models had any skill or not.

  53. bender
    Posted Nov 2, 2006 at 8:27 AM | Permalink

    Re #49
    I didn’t mean to imply in #48 that the challenge is insurmountable – just that it’s a challenge. But Steve M appears to be on the right track, sniffing out the stink of the bcps in every one of these “independent”, “robust”, “global”, “temperature” reconstructions. That publication alone would make for a very nice, compact exposition of the problem.

  54. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Nov 2, 2006 at 8:37 AM | Permalink

    RE: #52 – When George W. Bush decided to visit Energy Conversion Devices to make a speech about moving away from hydrocarbon usage, in essence, his actions de facto embraced what Albert Gore Jr. had written in “Earth In Balance.” Deny though many may, the US has already decided to quietly be in league with the Europeans vis a vis the incremental banning of CO2 emissions.

  55. Keith Sketchley
    Posted Oct 10, 2009 at 2:44 PM | Permalink

    From a layman’s, but engineer’s, point of view:
    – how can any analysis can be worth anything given all the details that posts herein say are essential to getting it right? Is any adequate data available?
    – why are the analyses by Briffa and Mann so sensitive to one region? Isn’t it supposed to be a global analysis (which is what it is being used for by activists)? We know climate varies regionallys, so global coverage is essential?
    – I see that David Suzuki’s web site no longer features the hockey stick graph prominently, though I have not searched the site for it. However he now features a discreditted CO2 graph.

5 Trackbacks

  1. […] 1. In a 1995 Nature paper by Briffa, Schweingruber et al., they reported that 1032 was the coldest year of the millennium – right in the middle of the Medieval Warm Period. But the reconstruction depended on 3 short tree ring cores from the Polar Urals whose dating was very problematic. […]

  2. […] 1. In a 1995 Nature paper by Briffa, Schweingruber et al., they reported that 1032 was the coldest year of the millennium – right in the middle of the Medieval Warm Period. But the reconstruction depended on 3 short tree ring cores from the Polar Urals whose dating was very problematic. […]

  3. […] 1. In a 1995 Nature paper by Briffa, Schweingruber et al., they reported that 1032 was the coldest year of the millennium – right in the middle of the Medieval Warm Period. But the reconstruction depended on 3 short tree ring cores from the Polar Urals whose dating was very problematic. […]

  4. […] (The Euro Hockey Team and Yamal) […]

  5. […] The Euro Hockey Team and Yamal […]

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