Phil Jones and the China Network: Part 2

Part 1 here. As a point of clarification, “station histories” in this post means the meta-data history i.e. locations and moves and are distinct from the “station data” in the form of the monthly averages.

In January 2007, the results of IPCC AR4 were announced. It re-iterated Jones et al 1990 as authority for the unimportance of UHI. The continued use of Jones et al 1990 by AR4 attracted my attention and, in Feb 2007, I re-examined Jones et al 1990 at CA, with my first discussion of the Chinese network here. See tag/china for posts related to this topic.

In the first paragraphs of that post, I set out a question that later became contentious (and which remains unanswered despite three “inquiries”):

The other key network in the seminal Jones et al 1990 on urbanization (relied upon in AR4) is their Chinese network. The idea that China between 1954 and 1983 – the age of Chairman Mao and the Great Leap Forward – could have achieved consistency in temperature measurement that eluded the U.S. observing system (with changing times of observation, instruments etc) is a conceit that seems absurd on its face. However Peterson 2003 in a recent literature review held the Jones Chinese network as one of only a few “homogeneous” networks. Jones et al 1990 described their QC procedures as follows:

The stations were selected on the basis of station history; we selected those with few, if any changes in instrumentation, location or observation times.

In this case, I have been able to track down third-party documentation on stations used in Jones’ China network and it is impossible that Jones et al could have carried out the claimed QC procedures. NDP039 states the following:

Few station records included in the PRC data sets can be considered truly homogeneous. Even the best stations were subject to minor relocations or changes in observing times, and many have undoubtedly experienced large increases in urbanization. Fortunately, for 59 of the stations in the 65-station network, station histories (see Table 1) are available to assist in proper interpretation of trends or jumps in the data; however, station histories for the 205-station network are not available. In addition, examination of the data from the 65-station data set has uncovered evidence of several undocumented station moves (Sects. 6 and 10).

While it seemed implausible that stations in the Jones et al 1990 network weren’t a subset of the NDP039 network, to be sure, one needed to firmly resolve the longstanding mystery of the identity of the stations in the Jones network.

This time, I tried a different approach. A few months earlier, Willis Eschenbach had tried to get information on CRUTEM under the UK FOI. While Willis had been stonewalled, CRU at least had to respond. I tried to get the Chinese network using FOI – my first FOI to CRU. As became a later pattern, CRU refused, using an untrue and implausible excuse. Doug Keenan, an occasional commenter at Climate Audit, had followed up my FOI request with one of his own. I rebutted the university’s untrue excuse; Keenan complained to the Information Commissioner’s Office. The University reluctantly agreed to provide the information (which was posted up in April 2007, 17 years after the original article.)

As was my surmise, the stations in the Jones et al 1990 network were drawn from the NDP039 network, the majority of which were explicitly stated to have no station history. In April 2007, following receipt of the data, I did a number of posts at CA on the Chinese network e.g. here here here here here, analysis that we now know that Jones was monitoring. One of the few mentions of Climate Audit in the Muir Russell report was to describe the Apr 2007 threads as “Climate Audit attacks on Wang and Jones”, though the CA threads were nothing of the sort. Having more or less satisfied myself that the analysis of the Chinese network in Jones et al was worthless, my last post in the series on the China network was on April 19. I later took a look at other UHI analyses that supposedly proved that UHI was unimportant , with several posts on Peterson 2003 here and Parker 2006 here here here, also concluding that this analysis didn’t prove anything. Whatever the true contribution of urbanization to 20th century trends, it seemed to me that these various studies all suffered from conceptual defects. The failure of the Jones et al 1990 China network to define a “rural” network was typical, rather than exceptional.

Although Climate Audit had more or less finished with its consideration of the China network in April 2007, a new player, Doug Keenan, now entered on the scene. On many occasions, I had taken the position that I didn’t think that ‘fraud” was a useful way to frame the issues in climate science and had adopted blog policies against commenters making such allegations at Climate Audit, Keenan had a longstanding personal interest in research fraud, an interest that preceded his interest in climate science (see his website) and had a history of confronting scientists in a highly aggressive way.

Keenan had become interested in climate science and was an occasional commenter at Climate Audit. He noticed the problems with the Chinese network early in the CA series and carried out his own detailed analysis of station moves, concluding that the Jones et al 1990 claim of relatively few” moves was scarcely credible (the Beijing station had had 5 locations in 30 years), with a number of comments between April 3 and April 15 e.g. here here here here and others. While Keenan’s comments on the issue at CA paused in mid-April, he began directly confronting the scientists in question. (While climate scientists assume that Keenan was acting in concert with me, for the most part, I learned of Keenan’s actions after the fact and often long after the fact. )

On April 11, Keenan wrote directly to Wang cc Jones and me (I was copied on this letter, but not on subsequent correspondence) seeking an explanation of the apparent inconsistency between NDP039 and Jones et al 1990:

Phil Jones tells that all the meteorological stations were selected by co-authors and that he is unaware of how that was done. So my first question–can you confirm that you alone selected the Chinese stations?
I also have questions regarding the data from the Chinese stations. Briefly, how did you ensure the quality of the data? There has been discussion about some details of this at ClimateAudit: –see comment #31, and also #37.

Keenan sent a followup email to Wang on Apr 20, copying Jones (but not me), asking Wang to retract the China section of Jones et al 1990 and Wang et al 1990, observing:

84 meteorological stations that can be classified as follows. 49 have no histories 08 have inconsistent histories 18 have substantial relocations 02 have single-year relocations 07 have no relocations Furthermore, some of the relocations are very distant–over 20 km. Others are to greatly different environments, as illustrated here: []
The above contradicts the published claim to have considered the histories of the stations, especially for the 49 stations that have no histories. Yet the claim is crucial for the research conclusions.

Jones circulated Keenan’s email to his regular correspondents – Mann, Trenberth, Santer etc:

I can live with the web site abuse, but the Keenan letter knocked me back a bit.

Trenberth suggested that Jones “cast aspersions” not just on Keenan, but on me (something Trenberth had previously done in connection with the Hockey Stick):

the response should try to somehow label these guys and lazy and incompetent and unable to do the huge amount of work it takes to construct such a database. Indeed technology and data handling capabilities have evolved and not everything was saved. So my feeble suggestion is to indeed cast aspersions on their motives and throw in some counter rhetoric. Labeling them as lazy with nothng better to do seems like a good thing to do.

Trenberth also suggested that Jones issue a correction notice as a means of defusing Keenan. Mann suggested that Keenan be ignored. Mann also counselled against the “precedent” of responding on a blog (an odd comment from a realclimate coauthor), but one with which Trenberth agreed:

I do think it is dangerous to respond to an accusation made on a blog (a dubious one at that). It sets a bad precedent.

However, Santer thought that a response was “clearly required”. This is the context of one of the more famous Climategate emails (presaging Santer’s similar wish for Pat Michaels):

I looked at some of the stuff on the Climate Audit web site. I’d really like to talk to a few of these “Auditors” in a dark alley.

Jones complained to Santer that some of the Climate Audit posts were “awful”. Jones decided to “ignore the blogs”, observing that “the unequivocal statement in the SPM [IPCC Summary for Policymakers] will be clear in any response”.

On Apr 22, Wang (now in China) replied (reasonably enough) that he needed to look into the file and contact “the co-author, Ms. Zeng, who brought the data and visited SUNYA as a visiting scientist from the Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, during that time”. As noted above, Zeng was not a coauthor of Jones et al 1990, but was a coauthor of Wang et al 1990.

On Apr 30, Wang stated to Keenan (copying Karl, Zeng and Jones):

The discussion with Ms. Zeng last week in Beijing have re-affirmed that she used the hard copies of station histories to make sure that the selected stations for the study of urban warming in China have relatively few, if any, changes in instrumentation, location, or observation times over the study period (1954-1983).

Keenan continued to seek clarification from Jones, who told Keenan (see here) on May 17 that the Chinese network had been selected by Wang:

In late 1989 or early 1990 I contacted the co-authors on the paper from 1990 to ask them about rural station data in their (three regions). The purpose of the study was to extend the work undertaken with Tom Karl a year or two early on the contiguous US. Each of the three: Groisman (Russia), Plummer/Coughlan (Australia) and Wang (China) selected the rural stations in their region, based on their knowledge of the networks in those countries. Each had worked extensively on their respective networks. For China there was the additional network of urban stations.

I did all the analyses with the data they provided. I wrote the first draft of the paper and they provided comments on subsequent drafts before it was submitted.

Keenan was unconvinced by Wang’s unsupported assertion of April 30 about the station histories (which notably failed to explain the contrary statements in the contemporary technical report) and, on June 11, sent a statement to Wang cc Jones, alleging that Wang had “fabricated” the claim to have examined the station histories.

Wang immediately responded, re-iterating his claim that Zeng had had paper logs available to her at the time, but that the logs were no longer available to her. With a touch of (perhaps) sarcasm, Wang told Keenan to apply at the China Meteorological Administration website if he wanted the station histories.

Dr. Keenan,
The only valid scientific issue described in your June 11, 2007 e-mailed pdf file (attached here as reference) concerning our 1990 GRL paper is the “station histories”, while others are strictly your own opinions and therefore irrelevant to your inquiry. So let me elaborate further on this issue.
Digitization of the hard copies of “station histories” was prepared in 1989-90 by Ms. Zhao-Mei Zeng (IAP/CAS) only for the 60-station network, while the “station histories” of other stations, including those we used in 1990 urban warming study, were available in paper form, as I have already indicated in my 4/30/07 e-mail to you. Therefore, the use of the word “fabrication” in your document is totally absurd.
Concerning the current status of these hard copies of “station histories”, Ms. Zeng told me when I was in Beijing in April 2007, that she no longer has the access to these information because it has been a long time (since 1990) and also IAP has moved office. But if you are interested, you can make an inquiry to the China Meteorological Administration using the web site: [4]
I believe that I have made it very clear what we had done with regard to the “station histories” in 1990 urban warming study. What and how you are going to proceed from now on is entirely your decision.

As an editorial comment here, while Wang may got some rhetorical satisfaction from his suggestion that Keenan try to get the station histories from China himself, this answer didn’t deal with the problem which proceeded to deteriorate. In my opinion, a more prudent answer on Wang’s part would have been to do what he could to locate the station histories (perhaps they really did exist despite NDP039) and put an end to the matter. In my opinion, as senior author of Jones et al 1990, Jones should likewise have urged Wang to try to locate the station histories. A similar opinion is later expressed by Wigley.

On June 18, I heard from Keenan on this topic for the first time since his last posting at CA in mid-April. He said that he had posted up a statement on the situation at his website and asked me to do a post at Climate Audit, which I did here. In this post, I observed once again:

Ms Zeng is Zeng Zhaomei, one of the coauthors of NDP039, the original report on the Chinese stations. It would be ironic if these “paper” station histories had survived all the turbulence of Maoism, the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, only to disappear during the IPCC regime and then after DOE had made a special effort both to collect the data and meta-data. Given the particular efforts of the DOE program to collect metadata, it seems odd that data then available would not have been transcribed. However, even if there were paper histories in 1990 which Zeng failed to transcribe, it appears unlikely that these possibly unavailable, possibly lost station histories supported the quality control claim of Jones et al:

we chose those with few, if any, changes in instrumentation, location or observation times.

Keenan analysis of station moves for the network for which station histories were available in 1993 shows quite convincingly that the Jones et al claim that there were “few, if any” changes was false. Why was this claim made? It’s one thing to make an incorrect claim, but was there any reasonable basis for making the claim? If not, what word should be used? Is Keenan’s use of the term “fabricated” (which has technical meaning in most Codes of Conduct) justified?

As I observed at the time, it didn’t seem to me that “fabrication” accurately captured the nuance of what was going on here. However, if the station histories didn’t exist at the time, the claim to have used them for the selection process did seem to have similarities to the following precedent for “falsification” as the term is used in academic misconduct literature e.g. here

falsely reporting to a data coordinating center that certain clinical trial staff, who were certified to perform the procedures on the subjects, had done so, when they had not;

Instead of trying to resolve whether the station histories had or had not actually existed, as, in my opinion, he should have done, Jones instead tried to cut off any further supply of data to anyone connected with Climate Audit, writing Wang and Karl as follows:

“Think I’ve managed to persuade UEA to ignore all further FOIA requests if the people have anything to do with Climate Audit… Had an email from David Jones of BMRC, Melbourne. He said they are ignoring anybody who has dealings with CA, as there are threads on it about Australian sites.”

While I was doubtful of the station histories, neither was I comfortable with where Keenan had taken things. The following day, after reflecting on the situation, I emailed Jones suggesting that he issue a correction to their Nature article, acknowledging the apparent unavailability of station histories – an approach that Trenberth, an unlikely ally, had suggested two months earlier as a means of defusing Keenan’s allegations. I noted the letter at CA here )The letter turns up in the Climategate emails as well).

Dear Phil,
Jones et al 1990 cited a 260-station temperature set jointly collected by the US Deparment of Energy and the PRC Academy of Sciences, stating in respect to the Chinese stations:

The stations were selected on the basis of station history: we chose those with few, if any, changes in instrumentation, location or observation times.

This data set was later published as NDP-039 [3] , coauthored by Zeng Zhaomei, providing station histories only for their 65-station network, stating that station histories for their 205-station network (which includes many of the sites in Jones et al 1990) were not available:

(s. 5) Unfortunately, station histories are not currently available for any of the stations in the 205-station network; therefore, details regarding instrumentation, collection methods, changes in station location or observing times, and official data sources are not known.
(s. 7) Few station records included in the PRC data sets can be considered truly homogeneous. Even the best stations were subject to minor relocations or changes in observing times, and many have undoubtedly experienced large increases in urbanization. Fortunately, for 59 of the stations in the 65-station network, station histories (see Table 1) are available to assist in proper interpretation of trends or jumps in the data; however, station histories for the 205-station network are not available. In addition, examination of the data from the 65-station data set has uncovered evidence of several undocumented station moves (Sects. 6 and 10). Users should therefore exercise caution when using the data.

Accordingly, it appears that the quality control claim made in Jones et al 1990 was incorrect. I presume that you did not verify whether this claim was correct at the time and have been unaware of the incorrectness of this representation. Since the study continues to be relied on, most recently in AR4, I would encourage you to promptly issue an appropriate correction.
Regards, Steve McIntyre

Keenan continued to take a harder line in an email sent to both of us. Jones presumed incorrectly that this was a good cop-bad cop intended to break up the solidarity of the author team, telling Tom Peterson of NOAA:

The second letter seems an attempt to be nice to me, and somehow split up the original author team. I do now wish I’d never sent them the data after their FOIA request!

But it was nothing of the sort. I thought that a correction to Jones et al 1990 would deal with the matter as far as Jones was concerned and I had no interest in Wang (and provided little coverage of the Wang affair at Climate Audit.)

Unfortunately, Jones decided to ignore the suggestion that he issue a correction, instead regretting that the data had been provided in the first place :

I won’t be replying to either of the emails below, nor to any of the accusations on the Climate Audit website. I’ve sent them on to someone here at UEA to see if we should be discussing anything with our legal staff. The second letter seems an attempt to be nice to me, and somehow split up the original author team. I do now wish I’d never sent them the data after their FOIA

Trenberth reinforced Jones’ decision not to respond: “responding to these guys unless they write papers is not the thing to do”.

Jones Visits China
In July 2007, by sheer coincidence, Jones visited the Chinese Meteorological Agency in Beijing. He emailed David Parker telling him with some excitement that “sites move out of the city at regular intervals as the cities expand. So Beijing has 6-7 site moves since 1951!” ( a point that Keenan had observed a few months earlier):

I’ve been giving some talks here and have more tomorrow. At CMA I’ve found they have a homogenized dataset of 745 stations for the country which they are preapred to give me at some point for inclusion. They have adjusted for all site moves but not for urbanization. It seems that it is almost impossible for sites here to be rural (maybe only 1% of the total). Sites move out of the city at regular intervals as the cities expand. So Beijing has 6-7 site moves since 1951! Also China seems to be the only country that doesn’t use airport sites. None are located at airports. I’m going to give them my Chinese sites in return so they can do some comparisons. I’ll talk with their person (Mr Li ) more tomorrow.

This would have been an ideal opportunity for Jones to determine whether the station histories relied upon in Jones et al 1990 really did exist in the archives. It would be interesting to know whether Jones tried to do so and what was the result. And, if he didn’t, why he didn’t. Needless to say, none of the inquiries seems to have asked.

However, Jones’ visit to China and his introduction to Li did result in his decision to try to use the newer Chinese data to try to vindicate Jones et al 1990, an effort that resulted in Jones et al 2008 (coauthor Li.)

More to come in Part 3.


  1. sky
    Posted Nov 4, 2010 at 7:19 PM | Permalink

    Quite apart from all questions of who said what, to whom, when and where, the basic premise that ANY meaningful determination of the influence of UHI upon temperature trends can be made by examining the 1954-1983 stretch of data, as was done by Jones with the China network, needs to be soberly evaluated in the context of known climatic variability involving multidecadal and quasi-centennial cycles.

    Inasmuch as small-town stations in the USA and where elsewhere available clearly show a period of declining temperatures from the mid-1950s to the mid-1970s, followed by a sharp recovery, the lagging, oscillatory nature of a 30-yr regressional trend makes it an unsuitable metric for determining any secular disparity between urban and rural records. Both would show some RELATIVE value for trends in 1983 that would almost ceratainly not persist in subsequent years.

    What is truly inexplicable is the failure of GHCN to make any effort in updating what semi-rural Chineses station data were available past 1990. Absent such data, no firm conclusions about UHI in China are possible. And given the fact that China has undergone an unprecedented economic boom, with attendant leaps in energy usage, the Chinese case can scarcely be generalized to the entire globe.

  2. Posted Nov 4, 2010 at 10:03 PM | Permalink

    I am on the edge of my seat…This is a great story.

    What is particularly interesting is the fact Jones et al seem so surprised and angry that their data are being examined. I have always thought that such examination is basic when one cites a particular paper. Apparently I was mistaken.

    And it is fascinating to see the wagons being circled as a couple of possible hostiles are spotted miles from camp. These people were frightened. Why?

    Partially because, I suspect, dismissing the UHI effect was critical to any claim of significant warming. And these people knew that the paper dismissing that effect was build on foundations of sand.

    Were there justice in the world, Steve, you would have the Order of Canada now, rather than in five years.

  3. Shallow Climate
    Posted Nov 4, 2010 at 10:22 PM | Permalink

    I often like to bring up Karl Popper’s writings on the scientific method, and so will again here: If the metadata on site histories cannot be found, then any studies using it have to be discarded as NOT SCIENCE. It’s only science when data, methods, etc., can be checked (and ARE checked) by others. In science we do not “trust the scientists”–how insane such an idea is with respect to actual science! If Jones or anyone else “wants to be trusted”, then he or she needs to find another line of work. The researcher INTITIATES the scientific process, and, as part of that, absolutely needs to publish all of his data, metadata, methods, etc. for others to continue the scientific process. Without access to the site histories, anything published is but hearsay; it is not science at all. Well, I am afraid that I paraphrase Popper lamely here, but you get the idea I am sure.

    • Phillip Bratby
      Posted Nov 5, 2010 at 10:02 AM | Permalink

      A QC friend has reduced witnesses at wind farm public inquiries here in the UK to gibbering wrecks by accusing them thus: “That’s not evidence, that’s hearsay”.

    • Posted Nov 5, 2010 at 12:20 PM | Permalink

      “The researcher INITIATES the scientific process, and, as part of that, absolutely needs to publish all of his data, metadata, methods, etc. for others to continue the scientific process…”

      One reason that all of the data supporting a scientific report are usually not published is that to do so adds to the cost of the publishing process. If an author requests it, most publishers will archive supplementary data associated with a peer-reviewed journal article. However, the supplementary materials are rarely examined by the reviewers to determine whether they adequately support the work for publication, or meet reasonable standards of intelligibility. Moreover, little effort is made either by most authors or most publishers to present supplementary data in a convenient form. Usually, they are submitted to the publisher as tables or figures or computer programs, often without adequate captions or descriptive information. There is no standardization of format, with some file formats being of a kind that may require proprietary software to read.

      A solution to this problem would be for journal editors to establish rules as to what raw data, codes, methods, etc. must be supplied by authors and archived, in perpetuity, by the publisher. Journal publishers should then set standards as to formatting and annotation of data and they should employ competent copy editors to ensure that those standards are applied.

      • Stilgar
        Posted Nov 6, 2010 at 12:59 AM | Permalink

        The journals already have rules about archiving data. The problem is enforcing the rules. If the journal does not care about enforcing the rule, what good is the rule?

        • Alfred Burdett
          Posted Nov 7, 2010 at 2:22 PM | Permalink

          What is the good of a journal that does not enforce the rule?

          Data files for archiving are often voluminous, carelessly prepared and in formats unsuited to publication. To undertake necessary file conversions, copy edit or proofread the material, provide descriptive headers and so forth is costly. Most commercial publishers will likely continue to slough off the responsibility for this work unless the scientific community forcefully demands that they do otherwise.

    • Posted Nov 5, 2010 at 11:59 PM | Permalink

      Speaking of Popper – there is an interestingly worrying answer from Easterling in the Mann “exoneration”, which asserts that the normal hypothesis/test cycle has limited relevance in the study of climate change. I suspect that such notions have much to do with the reluctance to test, validate, or even mildly sanity check mundane ‘facts’, as in the present example.

      “In a follow-up question, Dr. Easterling was asked whether he saw any difference between certain kinds of experimental scientific fields and observational ones like paleoclimatology. He responded by stating that much of what we know about climate change is the result of a combination of observation and numerical modeling, making the classic idea of falsification of a hypothesis, which may be applicable to a laboratory science, of limited applicability in the study of climate change.”


      • Craig Loehle
        Posted Nov 6, 2010 at 8:27 AM | Permalink

        Easterling is right in a sense, but the implication of being unable to do experiments is that it becomes even more important to allow others to check your work, to be explicit about how data (e.g, tree ring samples) were chosen or excluded, to double check outliers, etc–ie all the stuff that is done at CA.

        • Posted Nov 6, 2010 at 4:59 PM | Permalink

          I don’t think that Easterling is right. In science it is always possible to test hypotheses. E.g. in this case by comparing (honestly) urban and rural temperature records.

      • TAG
        Posted Nov 6, 2010 at 5:04 PM | Permalink

        I suppose that Easterling’s point could also be applied to astronomy. Astronomy is not a laboratory science but falsification still apples to it. Ca an hypothesis fit the observations. The same can be said about high energy physics. Two beams are made to collide and then observations are made and recorded. Are these observational compatible with an hypothesis or similarly which classes of hypothesis are compatible with the observations.

        The point that Easterling is raly making is quite different. I don;t know if he realizes that he is making it. It is that climate science is a field in which there are very few observations can be reliably made. We have no sets of observations that can be used to discriminate between hypotheses. Therefore the normal scientific methods, that are used in laboratory sciences such as chemistry and observational sciences such as astronomy and in sciences which span these classifications such as high energy physics, cannot be used.

        We are left then in a quandary in that the only observations that can be made in climate science are through models which can be verified only for current conditions. Many such models are possible. Judith Curry has indicated on here blog that very little can be done to discriminate among these models. They all make their assumptions and parametrize these assumptions to match current conditions. Essential features such as climate sensitivity have not been estimated to any better degree of accuracy since the 1970s.

        • Mark F
          Posted Nov 6, 2010 at 5:36 PM | Permalink

          A major challenge is the apparent frailty (or worse) of the data used to claim validation of various models. Were the (apparently key) dendro, thermometer records, homogenization thereof, and other foundations somewhat more robust, one might have a credible claim of model veracity. Sadly, far too many of the custodians, assemblers and massagers (to say nothing of alleged misrepresenters) of the historical and other records seem to have suffered lapses of conscience. If not ethics, if the climategate record is to be considered. House of cards built upon a hollow shell of nothing.

  4. steven Mosher
    Posted Nov 4, 2010 at 11:43 PM | Permalink

    after spending 6 months with metadata I have an opinion about who exactly is lazy.

  5. Steve Koch
    Posted Nov 5, 2010 at 1:33 AM | Permalink

    Very interesting, albeit infuriating, story. I guess asking for the calibration histories of the temperature sensors is totally out of the question in climate science.

    Any paper based on cru surface temperature record has no credibility, including the various IPCC reports. GIGO. It is time to either start over on the surface temp record, taking it out of the hands of climate scientists or just give up on surface temp records. The satellite temp records and the OHC records have to be acquired and maintained by independent scientists (probably not climate scientists). Analysis is only useful if it is based on good data.

    Anybody who is not shocked, appalled, and sickened by the team’s unscientific behavior probably cares more about pushing an agenda than following the scientific method. What is amazing is that more climate scientists (and other scientists in the hard sciences) have not openly expressed their outrage over the ClimateGate revelations. Why is Judy Curry so alone? You would think at least the older scientists, nearing retirement or in retirement would be speaking out loud and clear.

    Medical science suffers from some of the same type of problems (i.e. results published in medical journals and new drug field tests that are not bona fide).

  6. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Nov 5, 2010 at 5:09 AM | Permalink

    To help orientate, I have taken the 42 urban or city sites from Jones’ 1990 note re China and tabulated name, lat, long, WMO number, etc in a quick spreadsheet.

    References to sources are enclosed. The site was updates by P Jones on 4 April 2007 – see Keennan chronology above.

    Jones examined data from these sites from 1954 to 1983. There is a real possibility that they were already very large cities in this period and any more growth would have shown negligible additional UHI. That depends on the exact location of the weather station with respect to heat production.

    The inhabilable part of one Province, Yunnan, has a density of about 900 people per sq km away from the 85% of land that is largely uningabitable mountain. It would be hard to find a set of rural sites at that density.

    • Steve Koch
      Posted Nov 5, 2010 at 8:52 AM | Permalink

      “There is a real possibility that they were already very large cities in this period and any more growth would have shown negligible additional UHI.”

      Anything is possible but that is no basis for building a temp record that is to be the reason for changing the world’s economy. It is up to the scientist to prove that his sensors are working properly and installed in the proper location. Jones can’t do that and should admit same. In general, any paper based on data and metadata and software that have not been released to the public should be considered irrelevant.

      Normally engineers doing data acquisition are quite rigorous about handling sensors. This includes making sure that they are installed properly and in the right place and calibrating them frequently (and keeping detailed, time stamped records of these calibrations). When I acquired data, I wrote software that would analyze the acquired data to try to detect sensor problems in an automated way. I also wrote software that would prompt the operators to recalibrate the sensor if it had not been calibrated recently. The point is that the climate science temp sensors handling has been quite sloppy and is no basis for a serious science project. In general, climate science would benefit from getting more engineers involved to do the nuts and bolts data acquisition.

  7. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Nov 5, 2010 at 5:22 AM | Permalink

    Sorry for obvious typos above – wife ill in hospital again.

    Here’s a reference to some joint Chinese Australian work that mentions the terrain and the 752 stations – but only from 1971-2000.

    “Long-term weather observation data were collected from the national meteorological network in China for
    the period from 1971 to 2000 (State Bureau of Meteorology, 2002), in addition to data near the border from
    surrounding countries. Figure 2 shows the 752 stations included in the network. Monthly mean data were
    derived for minimum temperature (°C), maximum temperature (°C), and total precipitation (mm). Then, the
    spline-based interpolation method was applied to fit the climate surfaces for each climatic variable. Thus, the
    interpolated climate variables could be interpreted as estimates of standard means for the period 1971–2000.
    The network stations are distributed better in eastern China than in western China, where population density
    Copyright  2005 Royal Meteorological Society Int. J. Climatol. 25: 1369–1379 (2005)
    1372 Y. HONG ET AL.
    Figure 2. Spatial distribution of the meteorological network in China for long-term climate data collection
    is low and stations are correspondingly sparse. This explains why the accuracy of climate estimates is better
    in eastern China.”

    Click to access Spatial%20interpolation%20of%20mean%20monthly%20climate%20of%20China.pdf

    Paper was submitted early 2004 and accepted early 2005.

    • Varco
      Posted Nov 5, 2010 at 7:47 AM | Permalink

      Sorry to hear about your wife. Best wishes for a swift return to health.

      • Geoff Sherrington
        Posted Nov 6, 2010 at 3:36 AM | Permalink

        Tks Varco -will be ok.

    • Geoff Sherrington
      Posted Nov 9, 2010 at 3:53 AM | Permalink

      More corrections. By going to the site

      one can find a spreadsheet that gives World Meteorological Organisation Numbers in the file chiloc.dat, which has 84 lines. The WMO numbers can identify some of the sites as in my post above (which were supposed to be the urban sites), which came via a CA blogger wolf on Dec 5 2009. I used it in the orientation post 2 up from here. There are other versions of the Jones raw data, such as CDIAC Oak Ridge and Warwick Hughes’ blog. This is just a quick note that there are discrepancies between the stations used and numbered and that readers should treat my orientation blog with caution.

      Given that it was a 1990 note to Nature, I’m disinclined to go digging and find why there are so many discrepancies.

      If Doug Keenan is reading, might I ask if you succeeded in pinning down the quality of the records and correcting these apparent errors?

  8. Chris Wright
    Posted Nov 5, 2010 at 7:11 AM | Permalink

    “the response should try to somehow label these guys and lazy and incompetent ….”

    Note to Trenberth: when accusing others of being lazy and incompetent, it’s a good idea to check your wording. I assume the word ‘and’ should have been ‘as’.

  9. John Blake
    Posted Nov 5, 2010 at 9:54 AM | Permalink

    snip – OT venting and over-editorializing

  10. Jeff Norman
    Posted Nov 5, 2010 at 1:29 PM | Permalink

    Steve, you tease us.

    I await Part III with a worm on my tongue.

    • mrsean2k
      Posted Nov 6, 2010 at 12:11 PM | Permalink

      Re: Jeff Norman (Nov 5 13:29),

      Total speculation, but I wondered if the small delay could have anything to do with PaulM’s observation in part one:

      “I cannot see any justification for the figure of 0.05 for the century. It is just stated in the penultimate paragraph.”

  11. dearieme
    Posted Nov 5, 2010 at 2:00 PM | Permalink

    Jolly intricate, this attempt to unscrew the inscrutable.

  12. pax
    Posted Nov 5, 2010 at 2:21 PM | Permalink

    Fascinating story, looking forward to next episode.

    I wonder if Team/CA relations would have played out differently if Keenan hadn’t been so confrontational…

    • Posted Nov 5, 2010 at 8:16 PM | Permalink

      Keenan was a catalyst.

    • Bernie
      Posted Nov 5, 2010 at 8:30 PM | Permalink

      Keenan has a long term interest in scientific fraud. It is hard to see how he can be anything but confrontational in this line of inquiry. Sometimes events, victims, villains and good guys just happen to coincide.

  13. John A
    Posted Nov 5, 2010 at 3:04 PM | Permalink

    Who is the man called Mr Li? That’s what I want to know…

  14. TerryMN
    Posted Nov 5, 2010 at 6:51 PM | Permalink

    I’m anxious to hear form thefordprefect (or anyone, really) to tell me how the Trenberth “casting aspersions” e-mail is either science-at-work, taken out of context, or something else. A little help, please?

  15. TGSG
    Posted Nov 5, 2010 at 8:59 PM | Permalink

    (putting on his Spock ears)


  16. Manfred
    Posted Nov 6, 2010 at 4:07 AM | Permalink

    I have a lot of respect for Keenan.

    The history of the last years has taught everyone, that team members never ever admitted an error or even retracted a paper, even if they have been proven undisputably wrong, such as with Tiljander upside down and similar.

    The most influential proven error in climate science is in my view the false 1941 bucket / inlet adjustment of sea surface temperatures.
    The Folland and Parker paper is still state of the art for all global temperature data sets, and I haven’t read anything from the Hadley center that they even look at it in their “improvement” effort.

    Keenan has reacted unfriendly to completely uncooperative players. In sociology, this is actually a social behaviour, contrary to trying to be cooperative, which in effect leaves the burden to deal with these unfriendly individuals to the rest of the society.

  17. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Nov 6, 2010 at 5:50 AM | Permalink

    More properly for another time, in China the S-W Province of Yunnan varies from 76m to 6740m in only 650 km separation. Thus, it it a candidate for computer models of lapse rate adjustment used globally. That was one reason for citing the paper above,

    Click to access Spatial%20interpolation%20of%20mean%20monthly%20climate%20of%20China.pdf

    Five points that I picked up on:-

    1. Lapse rate.
    “In addition to prediction error estimate, summary statistics also provided an estimate of environmental lapse rate (ELR) for each monthly temperature in response to the variation of elevation at data points. The temperature drops more rapidly with elevation in summer. The maximum temperature has a greater lapse rate than the mean or the minimum temperatures; the lapse rate difference between different temperatures is much smaller in winter than in summer.” (The authors show in fig 9 that ELRs vary from -4.4 in December to -6.1 in May-June, for the whole of their China data.)
    “A traditional synoptic analysis uses a temperature decline of 0.6 C per 100 m increase in elevation,
    which is only true in summer for mean temperature.”

    2. Prediction errors.
    Again for the whole of China, “Zhu et al. (2003) validated the predicted climate of China developed by Daly et al. (2000) with a set of independent observations. The results showed good correlation between interpolated and observed data; the relative errors of precipitation were mostly less than 20%. Pan et al. (2004) applied GCV to monthly mean temperature interpolation of China. The results showed that the predictive errors of interpolation varied between 0.87 and 1.40 C. Thomas et al. (2004) calculated mean explained variances as relative predictive errors for monthly climatic variables. The monthly values of precipitation ranged from 16 to 38%.”

    3. Methodology.
    This can be argued, because spline and krige methods were used. I have long been in favour of these because of shown success in mineral ore grade extrapolations. Others have been quite adverse.

    4. References.
    No mention is made of earlier work by P.D.Jones. The paper does allow some inferences about the likelihood of the success of his approach.

    5. Data durability.
    Kunming, capital of Yunnan, might well have a good paper record of past metadata on climate. When the Japanese invaded east China in WWII, many Universities moved staff and disciplines to Kunming, which became a research hub as it still is. Chinese friends with climatology connections there might find fertile ground.

  18. kim
    Posted Nov 6, 2010 at 6:59 AM | Permalink

    I once suggested Chinese cricket chirping records as a source for a paleo temperature series. I think the climate has chilled in East Anglia. All I hear is crickets chirping, and less often.

    • Craig Loehle
      Posted Nov 6, 2010 at 9:20 AM | Permalink

      When we wait to hear denunciation of climategate bad behavior or gross exaggerations of the science like by Gore, isn’t that what we hear? Crickets chirping….It is a versatile indicator indeed.

  19. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Nov 7, 2010 at 11:20 PM | Permalink

    Steve Mosher has reminded us that he covered the China network in CRUTape Letters. My apologies for not referencing this. Re-reading the section, CRUTape Letters mentions an incident that I’d forgotten. When CRU refused my original FOI request on Mar 12, in addition to my appeal, I submitted a Materials Complaint to Nature

    On Mar 12, CRU falsely said that they no longer had information “rural” stations:

    In regards Regulation 12(4)(a), the information from ‘rural’ data stations no longer exists in the form requested at the University of East Anglia.

    I wrote to Nature as follows the same day:

    Dear Sirs,
    Re: Jones, P.D., P.Y. Groisman, M. Coughlan, N. Plummer, W.C. Wang and T.R. Karl, 1990. Assessment of urbanization effects in time series of surface air temperature over land, Nature 347, 169-172.
    With reference to the following Nature policy:
    a condition of publication in a Nature journal is that authors are required to make materials, data and associated protocols available to readers promptly on request
    I hereby notify you of a persistent refusal of Dr. Jones make the following data available:
    A) the identification of the stations used in the following three Jones et al 1990 networks:
    1. the west Russian network
    2. the Chinese network
    3. the Australian network
    B) identification of the stations used in the gridded network for comparison
    C) the data used by Jones et al for each of the above stations
    This study continues to be relied upon and cited, including by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Thank you for your consideration.
    Yours truly
    Stephen McIntyre
    Toronto, Canada

    I never did hear back from Nature, but a few weeks later, UEA said that the data did exist after all:

    upon further investigation and work, we have uncovered the annual input data for the paper of Dr. Jones from 1990.

    This information includes locations of the sites and the annual temperature values for those sites. We are putting this information on the UEA website with accompanying explanatory text and anticipate that, due to the Easter holidays, this will be available to the public no later than Friday 13 April. We are, of course, happy to supply the url for this information as soon as we have it.
    We do not have any information about why the sites for the 1990 paper were selected as Dr. Jones is unaware of how his collaborators selected the sites.

3 Trackbacks

  1. […] Phil Jones and the China Network: Part 2 « Climate Audit […]

  2. […] Climate Audit by Steve McIntyre Skip to content Hockey Stick StudiesStatistics and RContact Steve McProxy DataCA blog setupFAQ 2005Station DataHigh-Resolution Ocean SedimentsSubscribe to CAEconometric ReferencesBlog Rules and Road MapGridded DataTip JarAboutCA Assistant « Phil Jones and the China Network: Part 2 […]

  3. […] Part 1 Part 2 […]

%d bloggers like this: