A CA reader sent me an email, noting the following entry in minutes of a meeting.
M Loso inquired about Lonnie Thompson’s ice core data. These data are not presently available but will be investigated by Caspar.
This comment is minuted in a meeting of PIs leading up to Kaufman et al 2009 – a meeting of no fewer than 28 people (sponsored by the US National Science Foundation.) The minutes are online here. It would be highly interesting to see Ammann’s report on the Thompson obstruction. A novel role for the Texas Sharpshooter. Caspar Ammann, PI (Private Investigator). I wonder how thorough his investigation was.
Later in the meeting, they discuss the “High Canadian Arctic”, where they comment:
Tree-ring sites from Jacoby might be of use. R[ob] Wilson might have longer tree-ring records but needs to check with D-Arrigo
Yes, of course, tree ring sites from Jacoby might be of use.
Both of these problems – Thompson failure to archive and Jacoby’s incomplete archiving – have been repeatedly publicized at Climate Audit. See the Thompson category for prior discussion of Lonnie Thompson. The Alaska ice core in question is, of course, the Bona-Churchill, Alaska ice core, drilled by Thompson in 2002, press releases issued, AGU notice and then dead silence. A few years ago, I speculated that this dead silenced presaged “bad” drill results – “bad” in the sense that the drill results did not show that things were “worse than we thought”. Indeed, I speculated that the Bona-Churchill drill results would show that delO18 went the “wrong way” in the 20th century at this ice core. Bona-Churchill remains unpublished to this day, but there was a graphic in a workshop showing that Bona-Churchill delO18 did, in fact, go the “wrong way” as reported at CA here. So in case, Caspar Ammann PI didn’t report to Loso on Lonnie Thompson’s ice core, Loso can at least consult the above CA post.
Jacoby’s incomplete archiving has also been a topic of commentary here. In this case, unlike Thompson, Jacoby has archived a lot of tree ring measurements. The frustration is that he hasn’t consistently archived all the sites. Problems with Jacoby archiving were the topic of one of the very first CA posts here. In the influential Jacoby and D’Arrigo NH treeline reconstruction, they reported that they had collected cores from 35 sites, using 10 plus Gaspe in their reconstruction. I asked Climatic Change to require Jacoby to provide the data for the 24 sites collected, but not reported in the paper. Jacoby’s response needs to be read in full, but is excerpted below:
The inquiry is not asking for the data used in the paper (which is available), they are asking for the data that we did not use. We have received several requests of this sort and I guess it is time to provide a full explanation of our operating system to try to bring the question to closure.
We strive to develop and use the best data possible. The criteria are good common low and high-frequency variation, absence of evidence of disturbance (either observed at the site or in the data), and correspondence or correlation with local or regional temperature. If a chronology does not satisfy these criteria, we do not use it. The quality can be evaluated at various steps in the development process. As we are mission oriented, we do not waste time on further analyses if it is apparent that the resulting chronology would be of inferior quality.
If we get a good climatic story from a chronology, we write a paper using it. That is our funded mission. It does not make sense to expend efforts on marginal or poor data and it is a waste of funding agency and taxpayer dollars. The rejected data are set aside and not archived.
As we progress through the years from one computer medium to another, the unused data may be neglected. Some [researchers] feel that if you gather enough data and n approaches infinity, all noise will cancel out and a true signal will come through. That is not true. I maintain that one should not add data without signal. It only increases error bars and obscures signal.
As an ex- marine I refer to the concept of a few good men.
A lesser amount of good data is better without a copious amount of poor data stirred in. Those who feel that somewhere we have the dead sea scrolls or an apocrypha of good dendroclimatic data that they can discover are doomed to disappointment. There is none. Fifteen years is not a delay. It is a time for poorer quality data to be neglected and not archived. Fortunately our improved skills and experience have brought us to a better recent record than the 10 out of 36. I firmly believe we serve funding agencies and taxpayers better by concentrating on analyses and archiving of good data rather than preservation of poor data.
In the older posts, you’ll also see correspondence with Jacoby and d’Arrigo about the Gaspe update – the Gaspe series used in MBH98 has a huge HS, but an updated version did not have one. The Gaspe update was never reported. Despite their failure to report the update, I became aware of the existence of the update (and had a graphic of it); but when I requested the data, it was refused on the basis that that it did not give the right signal. See http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=182.
In 2005, I tried to get the NSF to intervene and require Jacoby to archive his data completely. They refused.
The Jacoby category is worth re-reading.
Thus, several years later, not just me, but young Arctic scientists are frustrated by data obstruction by Thompson and Jacoby. Unfortunately, these young scientists are unable or unwilling to record these frustrations in public and the records remain incomplete to this day.
The greater fault lies with the acquiescence of senior scientists and senior institutions. The US National Academy of Sciences was asked by the House Science Committee to look at this problem in climate science. Instead of providing any useful reports, two consecutive panels refused to look squarely at the problem, merely re-iterating platitudes that had been agreed to 20 years ago. The fault also lies with senior climate scientists who have likewise failed to speak out. It’s an issue that realclimate should have been able to agree with climateaudit. realclimate has an opportunity and a forum to speak out against data obstruction by Thompson, Jacoby etc, but have never risen to the challenge. Nor for that matter have other senior climate scientists uninvolved in the blogosphere – there’s nothing to stop Jerry North or Kerry Emanuel or Carl Wunsch or people like that from writing to Thompson and Jacoby and others and asking them to mend their ways.
Unfortunately the problem remains to this day. And here we have an example where it is not simply Climate Audit objecting to the data obstruction, but young field scientists trying to respond to the public desire for improved Arctic proxies.
There are many other interesting aspects to the minutes of this meeting, other PI meetings and indeed to the entire process leading to Kaufman et al 2009, which I’ll discuss on another occasion.