Phil Jones and the China Network: Part 3

Part 1
Part 2

In today’s post, I’ll follow the affair through Keenan’s complaint to SUNY, which is documented in the Climategate emails and at Keenan’s website.

Keenan, unconvinced by Wang’s statement about the existence of the station meta-data histories in the face of the contrary statement in the contemporary technical report NDP039, filed a materials complaint with Nature in July 2007, seeking evidence of the station histories said to have been consulted in Jones et al 1990. Nature rejected the request on the basis that it was unreasonable to expect climate scientists to retain unique historical information and were untroubled by the issue of whether the station histories had actually been available to the authors in the first place:

given the 17 years that have elapsed since publication, and that these histories were (in 1990) apparently only available as hard copies from an institute that has long since moved location, the authors’ inability to supply you with the requested materials, while regrettable, is excusable. We wish you every success in tracking down these old documents.

In early August, Keenan filed a misconduct complaint against Wang at SUNY, placing the complaint at his website. This was followed up almost immediately by his submission of an article to E&E about the events for an issue being edited by Benny Peiser.

On August 29, Peiser sent Keenan’s article to Jones for peer review. Jones immediately forwarded the article to Wang, Karl, Mann and Trenberth, resulting in a flurry of correspondence, including considerable discussion about whether Keenan had violated a supposed “confidentiality agreement” with SUNY – an issue that later became important in SUNY withholding report information from Keenan:

Trenberth, who had previously suggested that Jones label critics as “lazy and incompetent” and that he “cast aspersions on their motives and throw in some counter rhetoric”, now suggested a not uncommon tactic in climate science to Jones:

“You could try a patronizing approach of over explaining the difficulties.

Wang replied to Jones from China the same day (Aug 29) that he had forwarded the article to SUNY officials, who told him that Keenan had violated confidentiality:

and i have forwarded the file to the vp research and she wrote back to me that keenan has violetted the confidentiality, as i have told her in the very beginning 812. 1188508827.txt

Jones asked Wang (Aug 30) for clarification about Keenan’s supposed breach of confidentiality:

Can you clarify what you mean by violated confidentiality? I presume you mean that Keenan agreed to do nothing on the issue until the SUNY process has run its course. I presume this will conclude sometime this autumn 1188508827.txt

Wang replied (Aug 30):

the confidentiality means that keenan needs to keep the “inquery” confidential during the process of sunya “inquery”.

Jones passed the news about the SUNY confidentiality agreement to Mann and Treberth (Aug 30):

He got a reply to say that Keenan has now violated the confidentiality agreement related to the allegation. 1188478901.txt

Mann forwarded the article to Gavin Schmidt and they jointly reverted to Jones (Aug 30):

First, if there are factual errors (other than the fraud allegation) it is very important that you point them out now. If not, Keenan could later allege that he made the claims in good faith, as he provided you an opportunity to respond and you did now. Secondly, we think you need to also focus on the legal implications. In particular, you should mention that the publisher of a libel is also liable for damages – that might make Sonja B-C be a little wary. Of course, if it does get published, maybe the resulting settlement would shut down E&E and Benny and Sonja all together! We can only hope, anyway. So maybe in an odd way its actually win-win for us, not them. Lets see how this plays out… RealClimate is of course always available to you as an outlet, if it seems an appropriate venue. But we should be careful not to jump the gun here.

Later on Aug 30, Jones reverted to Wang, telling him that “libel is quite easy to prove in the UK” and wondering whether he should inform Peiser that Keenan had “broken his agreement” with SUNY:

1. Libel is quite easy to prove in the UK as you’re not a public figure. Perhaps when you’re back you ought to consider taking some legal advice from SUNY. Assuming the paper is published that is.

2. More important. I think I should send a short email to the editor Peiser and inform him that Keenan has broken his agreement with SUNY over this issue. If I don’t, they could say I had the chance and didn’t. Can you check with SUNY whether the folks there think I should? I just don’t want to do anything that later could be construed as the wrong thing now. I could also point out some factual errors.

Wang replied to Jones (cc Karl) (incorrectly) speculating that Keenan was “in a panic” because the IPCC report was “coming out soon”, suggesting how Jones should respond to the E&E review. This was a wild misunderstanding of motives – however, it shows the all-too-prevalent mentality in the field that sought to reduce any sort of inquiry or dispute to IPCC current events. He added:

I have also asked SUNYA’s opinion about what you should do within the SUNYA framework. But be careful that you do not know much about SUNYA action.

On August 31, Jones expanded the circle to include Tom Wigley, telling Wigley that Keenan was about to be notified by SUNY of his violation of a confidentiality agreement:

Keenan’s about to be told by SUNY that submitting this has violated a confidentiality agreement he entered into with SUNY when he sent the complaint. WCW has nothing to worry about, but it still unsettling! 813. 1188557698.txt

Wigley, who had been director of CRU in 1990, expressed concern that the claims to have examined station history were untrue and that this was a real issue – even if it later proved not to make a difference – advice that Jones ignored.

Seems to me that Keenan has a valid point. The statements in the papers that he quotes seem to be incorrect statements, and that someone (WCW at the very least) must have known at the time that they were incorrect. Whether or not this makes a difference is not the issue here.

In fact, as at August 30, Keenan had not heard back from SUNY, let alone entered into a confidentiality agreement with them. On August 31, Keenan heard back from SUNY for the first time. Contrary to Jones’ expectation, the SUNY letter did not notify Keenan that he had “violated a confidentiality agreement” nor make any reference to Keenan’s actions to that date (with which we now they were aware). University official Lynn Videlka sent Keenan a letter advising Keenan that the university had opened an inquiry on his allegation, including a copy of the university procedures on misconduct complaints, one of which was the following:

Responsibilities: The complainant is responsible for making allegations in good faith, maintaining confidentiality, and cooperating fully with an inquiry and/or investigation.

The covering letter drew Keenan’s attention to the requirement of confidentiality.

The attached letter informs you of the status of the University at Albany’s response to your earlier communication. It also apprises you of mandatory policy and procedural requirements including the requirement of confidentiality.

Please contact me if you have any questions about this matter.

Lynn Videka

Around Sep 4, as Mann and Schmidt had suggested, Jones submitted a short review of Keenan’s E&E submission. This time, Jones stated Zeng, not a coauthor of Jones et al 1990, had selected the stations, re-iterating Wang’s point that Zeng had had access to the station histories when the article was written:

Two networks (one of 60 and another of 205) were developed around 1990. The 60-station network contained data for 12 meteorological variables and information on the station histories, but the 205-station network contained mean temperatures and precipitation totals only, without station histories. This was because of a lack of resources at the time. The 42-station pairs used in the two 1990 papers were selected by Professor Zeng (who was a co-author on Wang et al., 1990) from the 60 and 205 station networks. In making her decision she did have access to the station histories and the site population values.

In his response, Keenan re-iterated one more time the explicit statement from NDP039 that “station histories are not currently available”:

In particular, the 1991 report (and the 1997 revision) explicitly states that for 49 of the stations claimed to be studied by Jones et al. and Wang et al. “station histories are not currently available”.

In his reply to Keenan’s response, Jones responded that NDP039 (Tao et al 1991) did not “explicitly” address the 49 stations in Jones et al 1990 – a criticism that was irrelevant since the 49 stations had already been determined to be within the 205-station network of NDP039. Jones re-iterated his statement that Zeng had the station histories, explaining that they lacked resources in 1989-90 to digitize the station histories;

Attached is Tao et al (1991). Nowhere in it does it explicitly state for 49 of the stations claimed to be studied by Jones et al. and Wang et al. are ‘station histories not currently available. It says this for the 205. I’m attaching Tao et al.. It is a scanned pdf, so the find/search facility won’t work. Zeng had the station histories for the 84 sites we used. They didn’t have adequate resources in the 1989-90 period to digitise everything. Keenan has been told this.

In this case, Jones did not control the journal and Keenan’s article was published.

Jones contacted Mann and Gavin Schmidt again in mid September 2007. Mann said that Wang needed to sue or threaten to sue and that he had a lawyer who would do so pro bono:

Wei Chyung needs to sue them, or at the least threaten a lawsuit. If he doesn’t, this will set a dangerous new precedent. I could put him in touch w/ an leading attorney who would do this pro bono. Of course, this has to be done quickly. The threat of a lawsuit alone my prevent them from publishing this paper, so time is of the essence.

Jones also forwarded the article to UEA officials. Michael McGarvie questioned the propriety of Keenan publishing an article while the SUNY inquiry was underway and thought that FOI officer Palmer should be contacted about the FOI claims in the article. Jones also notified new Head of School Jacquie Burgess, who commiserated that this almost amounted to “harassment”,

At SUNY, the preliminary “inquiry” stage commenced. It interviewed Keenan by telephone see here on Dec 7, 2007. It issued its report on Feb 18, 2008 (see Climategate documents here, with a redacted version being sent to Keenan on Feb 20. It observed that Wang told them that the station logs “existed in paper form” and had been used by his “colleague” (Zeng) to select stations for use in the paper, that the Committee should contact Zeng to confirm the existence of the logs in station form and that “established procedures” had been used to adjust for some of the station moves e.g. altitude even though this wasn’t mentioned in the publications. The Inquiry Committee’s conclusion was that, without evidence about the paper station logs, it had no alternative other than to recommend an investigation.

After careful and thorough review of the evidence, the Committee has concluded that without the written input from the Respondent’s colleague, we cannot determine the accuracy of the Respondent’s explanation for the station selection. While the respondent maintains that there may be additional evidence available that could allow for a clear and final decision to be rendered, for this Inquiry Committee to examine this case further or in more depth would be beyond its charge. Consequently in the absence of any such available evidence regarding the paper station logs, there is simply no way for us as an Inquiry Committee ot conclude that there is not sufficient evidence to warrant further investigation.

On Feb 22, Wang prepared a submission to the investigation, with an appendix said to have come from Zeng (it turned up in the Climategate documents and was never sent to Keenan for comment.) Wang said that the station histories had not been included in the DOE report because of the “huge effort” required to digitize the station histories:

While the station history was included in the 1991 DOE report for the 60‐station network, they were not included in the 205‐station network (published in 1993 DOE report which Professor Zeng is also a co‐author) due partly to its not being a requirement under the US‐China agreement, and partly to the huge effort coupled with inadequate resources (manpower and hardware) to digitize them.

That digitization of meta-data for the stations was not a “huge” commitment of digital resources, even in 1990, can be seen by the station histories for the 60-station network, published as Appendix B of NDP039.

Wang said once again that the information had been available at the time, but was “no longer available due to several office moves”:

the 49‐stations (most rural stations) are based on her [Zeng’s] recollection (together with checking against the present‐day station location), simply because the original station history manuscripts (archived at IAP) and her detailed notes were no longer available due to several office moves over the almost 19‐years time span.

Zeng’s recollection of the details of station moves in the appendix was oddly precise despite the passage of 18 years. Her recollection as documented in the Wang submission was also frequently inaccurate in cases where her recollection could be checked against the documentation preserved in NDP039.

The next time that the curtain is drawn on this is on May 23, 2008, when SUNY notified Keenan that the investigation had concluded that there was no misconduct, giving Keenan 14 days to add to the record, while refusing to give Keenan a copy of the report that he was asked to comment on.

After careful review of the evidence and thoughtful deliberation, the Investigation Committee finds no evidence of the alleged fabrication of results and nothing that rises to the level of research misconduct having been committed by Dr Wang.

As the institutional official responsible for this case, I have accepted the Committee’s findings and the Report. You have fourteen (14) calendar days from the date of this letter to provide any comments to add to the report for the record.

On June 4, 2008, SUNY “explained” to Keenan that he

did not receive a copy of the Investigation report because the report did not include portions addressing your role and opinions in the investigation phase.

Two days later (June 6, 2008), Keenan objected, describing the request for comments without access to the report as “Kafkaesque”. Keenan also objected to procedural breaches by the inquiry, including the university’s failure to notify him that an investigation had commenced. Keenan also noted the investigation’s breach of their obligation to interview “all individuals involved in making the allegation”:

The investigation process will include, but not necessarily be limited to, examination of pertinent research data and written materials, interviews with all individuals involved either in making the allegation or against whom the allegation is made, and statements from or interviews with other individuals who might have information regarding the allegation.

On June 25, 2008, without replying to Keenan, the University president sent his final decision to Wang (not sent to Keenan until August 11, 2008)

After studying the report of the Investigation Committee assessing an allegation of data fabrication levied against you and upon further weighing the recommendation of the Vice President for Research, I concur that there is no evidence whatsoever that you have committed data fabrication or any research misconduct with respect to this allegation.

On August 11, 2008 (six weeks later) , SUNY notified Keenan of the SUNY final determination, warning Keenan:

The University’s misconduct policies and the Office of Research Integrity regulations preclude discussion of any information pertaining to this case with others who were not directly involved in the investigation.

There matters rested for a while. The following year, on March 18, 2009, Keenan sent an FOI request to SUNY for the reports of the Inquiry and Investigation Committees. The university turned down the FOI request on April 14, 2009 as an “unwarranted invasion of personal privacy”.

The affair was mentioned from time to time in misconduct literature. In May 2009, Aubrey Blumensohn made a fairly detailed report, strongly criticizing procedures at SUNY:

In the absence of any explanation to the contrary, it seems that the methodology for station selection as described in these two publications was false or at best grossly misleading.

Wang maintains that hard copy records do exist detailing the location of stations selected by himself outwith the published methodology. However the refusal to clarify “method” is inappropriate and a form of misconduct in and of itself. It does not lend credence to Wang’s assertion that fraud did not take place. It would also be necessary to see records of stations that were not selected, in order to confirm that selection was indeed random, and only “on the basis of station history”.

The University at Albany is in a difficult position.

  • If the University received such records as part of the supposed misconduct investigation, then they could easily resolve the problem by making them available to the scientific community and to readers.
  • If the University does not have such records then they have been complicit in misconduct and in coverup of misconduct.
  • If the University at Albany does have such records, but such records are not in accordance with the stated methodology of the publications, then the University has more serious difficulties.
  • “Investigations” of scientific misconduct should themselves align with the usual principles of scientific discourse (open discussion, honesty, transparency of method, public disclosure of evidence, open public analysis and public discussion and reasoning underlying any conclusion). This was not the case at the University at Albany. When you see universities reluctant to investigate things properly, it provides reasonable evidence that they really don’t want to investigate things properly.

    Peiser distributed Blumensohn’s article on CCNET, reaching Wigley’s attention, who sent a lengthy and thoughtful email on May 4, 2009 to Jones and Santer (their reply is not in the Climategate emails)”


    Do you know where this stands? The key things from the Peiser items are …

    “Wang had been claiming the existence of such exonerating documents for nearly a year, but he has not been able to produce them. Additionally, there was a report published in 1991 (with a second version in 1997) explicitly stating that no such documents exist. Moreover, the report was published as part of the Department of Energy Carbon Dioxide Research Program, and Wang was the Chief Scientist of that program.”


    “Wang had a co-worker in Britain. In Britain, the Freedom of Information Act requires that data from publicly-funded research be made available. I was able to get the data by requiring Wang�s co-worker to release it, under British law. It was only then that I was able to confirm that Wang had committed fraud.”

    You are the co-worker, so you must have done something like provide Keenan with the DOE report that shows that there are no station records for 49 of the 84 stations. I presume Keenan therefore thinks that it was not possible to select stations on the basis of …

    “… station histories: selected stations have relatively few, if any, changes in instrumentation, location, or observation times”
    [THIS IS ITEM “X”]

    Of course, if the only stations used were ones from the 35 stations that *did* have station histories, then all could be OK. However, if some of the stations used were from the remaining 49, then the above selection method could not have been applied (but see below) – unless there are other “hard copy” station history data not in the DOE report (but in China) that were used. From what Wang has said, if what he says is true, the second possibility appears to be the case.

    What is the answer here?

    The next puzzle is why Wei-Chyung didn’t make the hard copy information available. Either it does not exist, or he thought it was too much trouble to access and copy. My guess is that it does not exist — if it did then why was it not in the DOE report? In support of this, it seems that there are other papers from 1991 and 1997 that show that the data do not exist. What are these papers? Do they really show this?

    Now my views. (1) I have always thought W-C W was a rather sloppy scientist. I therefore would not be surprised if he screwed up here. But ITEM X is in both the W-C W and Jones et al. papers — so where does it come from first? Were you taking W-C W on trust?

    (2) It also seems to me that the University at Albany has screwed up. To accept a complaint from Keenan and not refer directly to the complaint and the complainant in its report really is asking for trouble.

    (3) At the very start it seems this could have been easily dispatched. ITEM X really should have been …

    “Where possible, stations were chosen on the basis of station histories and/or local knowledge: selected stations have relatively few, if any, changes in instrumentation, location, or observation times”

    Of course the real get out is the final “or”. A station could be selected if either it had relatively few “changes in instrumentation” OR “changes in location” OR “changes in observation times”. Not all three, simply any one of the three. One could argue about the science here — it would be better to have all three — but this is not what the statement says.

    Why, why, why did you and W-C W not simply say this right at the start? Perhaps it’s not too late?


    I realise that Keenan is just a trouble maker and out to waste time, so I apologize for continuing to waste your time on this, Phil. However, I *am* concerned because all this happened under my watch as Director of CRU and, although this is unlikely, the buck eventually should stop with me.

    Best wishes,

    P.S. I am copying this to Ben. Seeing other peoples’ troubles might make him happier about his own parallel experiences.


    1. Posted Nov 6, 2010 at 3:56 PM | Permalink

      I have received e-mails from people asking if I knew about Steve’s recent posts and suggesting that I comment on them. In fact, Steve sent me the text for comments, before posting, and he and I have e-discussed some of the issues. 🙂 I am much glad to see the story being so well told!

    2. Rob R
      Posted Nov 6, 2010 at 4:10 PM | Permalink

      The email from Wigley is rather telling. Maybe even devastating. He is aware of the sloppy work, the sloppy investigation of it and the attempts by Jones to cover it up.

      In other industries/settings Jone’s head would have rolled, but heck, this is climate science after all so who could be surprised. Climate scientists world-wide should be ashamed of this fiasco and they should say so “on the record”.

    3. GolfCharley
      Posted Nov 6, 2010 at 6:00 PM | Permalink

      I am beginning to think that the data used may have been translation copies of restaurant menus, from two different establishments selling similar Chinese cuisine, written in Mandarin, by someone fluent in Cantonese, with an American accent

      If the menus were similar, with the cheaper starters listed 1-20, then the rice dishes 20-40, followed by the main course meat dishes etc etc, followed by all inclusive meals for 2, 3 and 4 at 90-100, it can be seen that prices {misinterpreted as temperatures) would rise sequentially, with a few ups an downs.

      If one of the restaurants was from a rural area, and another from a city location with higher costs and overheads, clearly higher prices would result, for similar dishes served at the same time, albeit 15km apart.

      Some minor discrepancies would occur, with the precise order of the menu, but over time, with inflation, prices would rise, and be proportionate

      But as the data is still lost we will never know. Or will we ?

      • Mark F
        Posted Nov 6, 2010 at 6:46 PM | Permalink

        Except that the urban one has faster-rising costs than the rural one – a key part of why this is even being considered. You would be right if they stayed in lock-step – and cities never grew.

      • Doug in Seattle
        Posted Nov 6, 2010 at 7:06 PM | Permalink

        An interesting thing about written Chinese is that its same in Mandarin as in Cantonese.

      • Tom C
        Posted Nov 6, 2010 at 11:24 PM | Permalink

        If you look at the 4th principal component of these data it is shaped like a chopstick

        • Geoff Sherrington
          Posted Nov 7, 2010 at 6:14 AM | Permalink

    4. GolfCharley
      Posted Nov 6, 2010 at 6:13 PM | Permalink

      Steve, whether you choose to snip my previous post or not, thank you for this series. The more I research into this subject, the more frustrated I become by the way the whole system has been corrupted.

      The way that you and Douglas Keenan have pursued this matter, in very different styles, but have both come back to the same points, is commenable.

      Please keep going, both of you

    5. Phil
      Posted Nov 6, 2010 at 6:40 PM | Permalink

      The unredacted draft Report of the Inquiry Committee has a section that was not even disclosed to Keenan in the redacted Report sent to him, the first item of which is:

      Findings of the Inquiry Committee

      1- There are some stations for which the Committee obtained and reviewed published station logs. Some of these mention changes in the station location, etc. …..

      How can SUNYA say with a straight face that there was no merit to Keenan’s complaint?

      Furthermore, while the accusations of fraud are quite strong, the third finding has a strong flavor of the infamous “It depends on what the definition of is is:”

      3- Committee deliberation centered on the difficulty of interpreting the published statement that selected stations experienced “few, if any, changes in … location” –
      a. There must be some stations for which there is no evidence of a change in location, etc.
      b. There are certainly published station logs (for stations used in the study) that refer to changes in location – how many is “a few” and how much of a move (or other change) is allowed in order for a station to be listed as one that did not experience a change in location?
      c. As long as “few” is not defined and is in the statement – obtaining a sufficiency of evidence to meet the standard of “fabrication” may be difficult.
      d. For long-term climate records, particularly in rapidly changing nations such as China, changes in station location are to be expected. The question is, given these changes and procedures for accounting for such changes, were the statements in the papers “few, if any” misleading. Furthermore, where does one draw the line between “fabrication and/or misrepresentation” versus non-rigor in wording in a scientific publication?

    6. Posted Nov 6, 2010 at 7:48 PM | Permalink

      Blumensohn: “When you see universities reluctant to investigate things properly, it provides reasonable evidence that they really don’t want to investigate things properly.” yup.

    7. Pat Frank
      Posted Nov 6, 2010 at 8:42 PM | Permalink

      It’s very nice that Tom Wigley suggested that Phil Jones should have written, “stations were chosen on the basis of station histories and/or local knowledge.” (bolding added).

      The “local knowledge” addition would have given PJ infinite qualifying latitude about missing station histories. ‘Ah, yes,’ one might demur, ‘those station histories are missing so we based the evaluations on local knowledge.’ That option would have short-circuited any but the most persistent of queriers.

      Good job, Tom — you advised an advance of scientific methodology to include wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

      It’s curious that in the text of Jones … Wang and Karl, 1990, that the text says they assembled 42 rural and 42 urban stations, while the Legend for Figure 1c mentions only 39 rural Chinese stations.

      It’s also ironic that the Legend also says that,”Details of the rural station networks are given in the text,” when the textual information is very qualitative.

      The paper is really a Nature letter, and no details of anything are given in the text The journal site includes no supplementary information where the station provenances could conveniently have been listed.

      Another interesting thing is that Jones, et al. 1990 say, “42 station pairs … were selected from a 260 station temperature set recently compiled under the [US DOE and the PRC]…” for which the reference is to Koomanoff, et al, 1988. W.-C. Wang is one of the co-authors on Koomanoff.

      Table 1 in Koomanoff lists all the data bases accumulated in the DOE/PRC project. Looking at that table, data base #8 is “PRC-temp” which gives “T(C) (min/max).” That data set includes 60 stations with data covering at least “1936-present” (present=1988).

      Three other data sets also mention PRC temperatures. Two say “PRC-derived temp index,” which are listed as “areal average” and “Estimates.” These apparently don’t include station min/max temperatures. The last is “PRC-temp derived from tree-ring, documents & instruments; Derived temp (C); Areal (Tibet).” Tibet tree rings and instruments are not relevant to East China.

      So, Jones & Wang, et al., 1990 mention 84 eastern China stations, referencing Koomanoff. Koomanoff mentions only one data set giving China temperatures, and that one has only 60 stations. Where are the rest?

    8. Posted Nov 6, 2010 at 9:05 PM | Permalink

      Steve, at the risk of joining the future gallery, thank you for laying out this story in such unbelievable completeness. I read the emails a year ago on this topic with no understanding of the depth of the problem, yet it was obvious that there was substantial problem. To even imagine that a scientist would put up with so much nonsense and still not provide the simple exonerating evidence due to the labor involved, is impossible in any human plane of reality.

      My guess is that Jones got Chinese’d. The culture has a way of making points which later turn out to be less than truthful. Like always though, once they are entwined in a story, no ‘fact or thing’ can make any difference to the conclusion. He didn’t bother to check.

      • TGSG
        Posted Nov 6, 2010 at 9:59 PM | Permalink

        “He didn’t bother to check.”

        Why would he? The records, or lack thereof, furthured his agenda.

        • Third Party
          Posted Nov 6, 2010 at 11:28 PM | Permalink


      • PaulM
        Posted Nov 7, 2010 at 2:36 PM | Permalink

        Another related cultural factor (“got Chinese’d) is that people from some countries like China tend to give the answer they think the questioner wants to hear, rather than the the truthful one. I can imagine Jones asking Wang “Do you have full station histories for these sites?” and Wang answering “err, um, yes”.

        • Posted Nov 8, 2010 at 8:32 AM | Permalink

          That’s right. I find the Chinese aren’t as prone to this behavior as some cultures, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it were true. Before we give too quick a pass for Jones though we have to note that the paper was about the thermometer histories first. It does seem impossibly sloppy on first brush, but the possibility of cultural misinformation occurred to me from past experience.

    9. Anthony Watts
      Posted Nov 7, 2010 at 12:42 AM | Permalink

      Epic fail of peer review and professional review at every level.

      • Dave
        Posted Nov 7, 2010 at 7:26 AM | Permalink

        Not at every level. One of the great joys of the scientific method is that failing to act in accordance with it is an obvious crime in itself. By attempting to avoid addressing legitimate concerns, the perps may have won a short-term gain, but the long-term damage to their reputations will eventually be enormous.

    10. Ron Cram
      Posted Nov 7, 2010 at 12:48 AM | Permalink

      “Let’s don’t let another generation of young scientists be forced to choose between research grants and scientific integrity.”

      Well said Oliver!

    11. Ale Gorney
      Posted Nov 7, 2010 at 3:05 AM | Permalink

      I have a request that Michael Mann & Phil Jones please offer commentary regarding the narrative McIntyre is writing about. Your assistance in correcting any errors would be invaluable to the history of climate science. Thank you both for your speedy responses.

      • Mark F
        Posted Nov 7, 2010 at 3:06 AM | Permalink

        Please say you’re being sarcastic…

        • Ale Gorney
          Posted Nov 7, 2010 at 7:53 PM | Permalink

          I believe there contribution to this story would be very helpful.

          • Jimmy Haigh
            Posted Nov 8, 2010 at 5:26 AM | Permalink

            Their (not ‘there’) contribution to the dabate may very well be helpfull but they never debate.

          • TAG
            Posted Nov 8, 2010 at 6:01 AM | Permalink

            Yes, anything that would generate dialogue and hinder recrimination would be a good thing. If an historian or political scientists couldbringteh participnats togetenr to reconstruct a narrative of this period, it could only be a good thing. I do no exepct that will ever happen and that is a sad thing for the world.

      • pesadia
        Posted Nov 7, 2010 at 6:32 AM | Permalink

        Is that what is known as a freedom of expression request?

      • Adam Gallon
        Posted Nov 7, 2010 at 9:47 AM | Permalink

        Ale, the chances of that are in the “Snowball in Hell” category.
        As we’ve seen time, after time, they simply refuse to accept any criticisms of their methods, processes or results, epsecially from mere bloggers, with no climatology “credentials”.

    12. Phillip Bratby
      Posted Nov 7, 2010 at 3:20 AM | Permalink

      Do I detect the makings of a book here?

      “THE UHI CHOPSTICK ILLUSION. Chinagate and the Corruption of Science.”

      • pesadia
        Posted Nov 7, 2010 at 5:02 AM | Permalink

        How is it that you can read my mind?

        • Phillip Bratby
          Posted Nov 7, 2010 at 5:23 AM | Permalink

          Great minds thing alike. Fools……

      • Posted Nov 7, 2010 at 10:05 AM | Permalink

        Re: Phillip Bratby (Nov 7 03:20),

        Twilight of the Climate Gods.

        The scale of this story IMHO is more worthy of Wagner than of “chopsticks”. Every major science institution has bought into the notion that Jones and Wang have shown UHI to be minimal, therefore the cause of the recent non-solar-correlating temperature rise has to be blamed on CO2

        • See - owe to Rich
          Posted Nov 7, 2010 at 11:01 AM | Permalink

          snip – OT

    13. Geoff Sherrington
      Posted Nov 7, 2010 at 6:22 AM | Permalink

      A note of caution that there might have been agencies collecting temperature data for reasons other than the usual. For example, see

      Here it is not quite clear if the botanist authors collected temperatures.

      Some military units took weather records, but I can’t find much more than a mention.

      I’ve spent a day looking for China temperatures and seem to have gained a lot of incentive not to look.

    14. Geoff Sherrington
      Posted Nov 7, 2010 at 6:35 AM | Permalink

      Also a paper from Beijing, year 2010

      “It is worthwhile to note that the urban heat island (UHI) effect may also influence
      plant growth. The phenological advancements described in this case are probably
      attributable to both climate warming and the UHI effect. However, the Beijing
      phenological station is located in the suburbs, far away from the city centre area, so
      the UHI element may be quite weak. At present, there are few phenological
      observation sites in other suburbs of Beijing, and so the relative contribution to
      phenological advancement by natural climate warming and the UHI effect could not
      be distinguished clearly. To quantify the contribution of the UHI effect to
      phenological variation is therefore another hot topic for the future in the field of

      • Posted Nov 7, 2010 at 3:28 PM | Permalink

        I still don’t buy the concept that a couple degress difference in temperature is going to influence plant growth to any appreciable degree.

        Here in Western Washington State, the greenest months are October, November, December, which are the wettest months. Definitely not the warmest.

    15. sleeper
      Posted Nov 7, 2010 at 8:35 AM | Permalink

      To Phil Jones: at this point, you should probably just leave your pants around your ankles.

    16. justbeau
      Posted Nov 7, 2010 at 8:57 AM | Permalink

      This particular story includes US government employees Tom Karl, Gavin Schmidt, and Ben Santer.

      • Posted Nov 7, 2010 at 10:09 AM | Permalink

        Re: justbeau (Nov 7 08:57), and we’ve seen other reasons to be uncomfortable with all of them

        • justbeau
          Posted Nov 7, 2010 at 6:31 PM | Permalink

          Climategate is not just academic researchers seeking grants. The Hockey Team includes US government employees: Jim Hansen, his assistant Gavin, Ben Santer (educated at the Univ. of East Anglia), and Mr. Karl.

    17. Fred
      Posted Nov 7, 2010 at 9:49 AM | Permalink

      What a sad tale . . . to think how low their “science” has sunk . . . when Mann keeps a pro-bono lawyer on hot standby.

      When Hollywood makes the move, Steve Buscemi would be a good Jones . . .

      any suggestion for who should play Steve?

      • Posted Nov 7, 2010 at 10:18 AM | Permalink

        Re: Fred (Nov 7 09:49), we haven’t got there yet.

      • Posted Nov 7, 2010 at 3:29 PM | Permalink

        Sean Connery.

        • Jimmy Haigh
          Posted Nov 7, 2010 at 6:16 PM | Permalink

          Yesh indeed – Sean Connery – an inshpired shuggeshtion.

          But me may shtruggle to shay shtatishtical analyshish.

      • Barclay E MacDonald
        Posted Nov 7, 2010 at 7:35 PM | Permalink

        There are definitely parts in this movie for Adam Sandler and Danny Devito.But we probably shouldn’t go there.

    18. Kenneth Fritsch
      Posted Nov 7, 2010 at 10:08 AM | Permalink

      The object lesson for me in these investigations is that an advanced national government and a prestigious university in that same nation (the US would have had similar results, I strongly suspect) came up rather short in investigating the upshot of the climategate emails and related issues, while the blogs, and most notably CA, have gotten to the heart of the matter rather efficiently. The blogs do have the advantage of being able to investigate the investigators.

      It really does not matter to me anymore what the reasons were for the failures of the “official” investigations as long as I can count on a blog doing what Steve M has done here. Counter views from other blogs are welcome and can also inform and do it far beyond the parsed opinions of the official investigations.

      It also does not matter to me anymore that garbage can sail through peer review and remain in good standing regardless of reasonable complaints and critiques, as long as I can obtain the story behind the science story at the blogs. I’ll get my glimpse at the truth not from congressional hearings or official investigations or from peer review but from the blogs. Blogs do not have the inherent limitations (yet) that these other bodies do.

      • Phillip Bratby
        Posted Nov 7, 2010 at 12:00 PM | Permalink

        The UEA is not a prestigious university. It is definitely a third rate one in the UK.

        • mikep
          Posted Nov 8, 2010 at 3:42 AM | Permalink

          Not first rate, but hardly third rate. It was one of the new universities of the 1960s – some of which, notably Warwick and York, are now undoubtedly first rate.

    19. Hoi Polloi
      Posted Nov 7, 2010 at 11:20 AM | Permalink

      So wherez Nick Stokes to give this the usual AGW spin?

    20. Posted Nov 7, 2010 at 12:15 PM | Permalink

      “The object lesson for me in these investigations is that an advanced national government and a prestigious university in that same nation (the US would have had similar results, I strongly suspect) came up rather short in investigating the upshot of the climategate emails and related issues, while the blogs, and most notably CA, have gotten to the heart of the matter rather efficiently. The blogs do have the advantage of being able to investigate the investigators.”

      The problem here is one of incentives. If your institutions has set up a grandiose “multi-disciplinary center for global warming research” what happens if there is much less of a global warming problem than originally thought? How do they pay the light bill? How do they keep all of those people employed?

      President Eisenhower foresaw this in 1960: “In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

      The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.”

    21. David
      Posted Nov 7, 2010 at 12:33 PM | Permalink

      Some stand out quotes from Tom Wigley’s e-mai;: “It was only then that I was able to confirm that Wang had committed fraud.” So it is labeled by Wigley as “fraud”, and then Keenan, who is trying to verify the science, is spoken of as a “troublemaker…”I realise that Keenan is just a trouble maker and out to waste time, so I apologize for continuing to waste your time on this, Phil.” …and so in climate science “someone trying to replicate a study is a “troublemaker”, someone committing “fraud is” sloppy” They wonder why the public does not worship the doom and gloom they conclude.

    22. Brooks Hurd
      Posted Nov 7, 2010 at 12:50 PM | Permalink

      Excellent write up of these events. it seems to me that it would have been quite easy for Jones to have confirmed with Wang that Zeng had actually possessed the 84 station data sets. Not withstanding this failure; as we have seen so often in politics, it is the cover up which is the real problenm.

    23. GolfCharley
      Posted Nov 7, 2010 at 2:24 PM | Permalink

      Has Tom Wigley stuck his head above the parapet yet?

      In one of the last of the leaked e-mails he had the honesty to admit that he was in charge back in 1990.

      It would not have occurred to Acton to seek Wigley’s advice, because with Acton’s ability to investigate, he may have no idea who Wigley is

    24. Posted Nov 7, 2010 at 4:01 PM | Permalink

      In Jones et al 1990 it is reported that data for the US showed an urban influence of 0.15C over the period 1901-1984 and that “The results for the United States clearly represent an upper limit to the urban influence on hemispheric temperature trends.” Yet urban influence reported for China from 1954-1983 (less than half the time-span of the US data set) is 0.16C. This simply does not make sense.

      I believe in general that US cities are generally less dense in population, and have more trees and parks than European, Asian, and South American cities.

      I agree that Jones et al provide absolutely no explanation or rationale for concluding that the UHI effect amounts to 0.05C during the 21st century.

      Then there is the ridiculous implication that 42 cities with average population of over 100,000 are “rural”. If actual rural, i.e. no built environment, stations were used the difference would surely be much larger.

      As individual scientists these authors could be seen as exceptions to the rule, but for the IPCC (2500 scientists?) to base a major conclusion on such obviously shoddy, perhaps falsified information is inexcusable.

      • PhilH
        Posted Nov 7, 2010 at 6:02 PM | Permalink

        I don”t believe 2,500 scientists (most of whom are not “climate scientists” anyway) based a major conclusion on anything having to do with UHI. The guys basing the major conclusion were the few members of the Team that wrote the thing.

    25. EdeF
      Posted Nov 7, 2010 at 6:10 PM | Permalink

      “Climate scientists plan campaign against global-warming skeptics”

      From today’s LA Times. American Geophysical Union has 700 climate scientists
      who are prepared to fight back against AGW skepticism, including Kevin
      Trenberth, NCAR. New Republican House may investigate Climategate emails.,0,545056.story

      • AnyColourYouLike
        Posted Nov 7, 2010 at 8:14 PM | Permalink


        Thanks for that link. I posted it at Judith Curry’s blog as it seemed to be relevant to some of the discussion of politics in science over there.

        Especially predictable is this quote:-

        “Climate-change skeptics argued that the sniping in some e-mails showed that scientists suppressed research by skeptics and manipulated data. Five independent panels subsequently cleared the researchers involved and validated the science.”

      • thisisntogoodtogo
        Posted Nov 7, 2010 at 8:44 PM | Permalink

        “Relatively few” are not climate scientists. 🙂

    26. Shallow Climate
      Posted Nov 7, 2010 at 8:03 PM | Permalink

      “…selected stations have relatively few, if any, changes…”(Jones et al. 1990). Ah, climate science (or should I say “climate ‘science'”?). Now I too call myself a scientist, and if it were I writing this, how much trouble would it be for me to say “…relatively few changes (only two out of all station sites)…” and give reference to a footnote? And saying “few” without giving a number passes peer review? This is a scientific paper, boys, not a children’s story book! Sad sad sad, sad sad sad. Just saying “few” by itself surely leaves the impression of trying to blur the vision rather than sharpen it. And why? May we add “relatively few” to the lexicon of climate science that includes “remarkably similar”?

      • Craig Loehle
        Posted Nov 7, 2010 at 9:45 PM | Permalink

        In a way I feel fortunate to not be on a gravy train like AGW or to be famous like Jones, because reviewers won’t let me get away with such handwaving as saying cities with 100,000 are “rural”, and thus I don’t have to look over my shoulder and worry about being audited.

    27. TimC
      Posted Nov 7, 2010 at 10:17 PM | Permalink

      Apropos Wigley’s “thoughtful” email of 4 May 2009 it may be helpful to mention that lawyers are familiar with the sometimes conjunctive use of the word “or”. Where Jones et al said “selected stations have relatively few, if any, changes in instrumentation, location, or observation times” this was probably conjunctive usage, equivalent to “and”.

      The sentence has very similar structure to “selected stations do not have features A, B or C”, which would probably immediately be taken as conjunctive, as if “any of” were inserted before “features”.

      See for example the discussion in

      I don’t believe Wigley’s “real get out” would have passed any legal analysis such as on pre-trial discovery. And it stinks.

    28. RayG
      Posted Nov 8, 2010 at 12:37 AM | Permalink

      Tim C. I, for one, eagerly await the day when competent legal counsel or for those in the U.K. QCs, are able to cross examine “Team” members who have been placed under oath.

      • stan
        Posted Nov 9, 2010 at 10:23 AM | Permalink

        I suspect that competent legal counsel will eventually get the chance to cross-examine all kinds of “consensus” scientists when civil cases claiming damages for Katrina were caused by global warming get to the discovery stage. I can’t imagine another case that could provide as much opportunity for cross-examination fun while practicing law.

        Imagine all the avenues of inquiry — just a taste:

        “Are the instruments sited in accordance with basic scientific principles? Are they calibrated regularly? Does anyone even check these instruments? Does anyone audit or replicate anyone else’s studies? Principles of forecasting require the verification and validation of models. Have the climate models met this basic requirement? Since you said you rely on CRU data in your work, are you familiar with this Harry-Read-me file? Now that you are aware of Harry’s assessment of the quality of CRU’s code, is that the quality of the science you rely upon in your work?”

        Oh, it would go on and on and on.

    29. Ted Carmichael
      Posted Nov 8, 2010 at 12:51 AM | Permalink

      Steve – an excellent summation. Thanks for that.

      In regards to the actual science, I’ve finally figured out what has been bothering me about this study (Jones, 1990). They purport to show that the UHI effect is insignificant. But when you examine the paper – even taking it at face value – it’s totally useless.

      When most people talk about the UHI affecting the land-based temperature record, they mean (I presume) that a particular temperature record is affected by the growth of the city surrounding the site. That is, a site with no population growth doesn’t increase in temperature as much as a site that has dramatic population growth. And the UHI effect is relative to this population growth, so that as more development comes in, the UHI effect gets stronger.

      So for me, the obvious way to measure this would be to compare the trends in growing cities to the ones that have no growth: those that change vs. those that don’t change.

      That’s not what this paper does. In regards to the 42 Chinese “pairs” of stations, what they do instead is pretend that the UHI effect is something different. They pretend that the UHI is not rural stations becoming urban, but rather: urban stations increase in temperature more than rural stations. Then they try to show that this isn’t true by using sites that have ALWAYS been urban, and compare them to sites that have ALWAYS been rural.

      For example, the China study uses 42 pairs of stations, half rural and half urban. What Jones, et al., “show” (more on this below) is that the temperature increases over the 1954 – 1983 time period is the same for both types of stations. Since they took particular care (ha!) to select sites that haven’t changed over that time period, all they are claiming is that once a station is urbanized, then the UHI doesn’t increase very much. And thus, UHI doesn’t exist in a significant way.

      But the paper is even worse than that. I’ve just read it, and I’m stunned by what they suppose is a robust methodology. What they do further is, in each area – western USSR, eastern Australia, and eastern China – compare the rural station network they develop to the “gridded” network from previous work for those same areas.

      This gridded network may, in fact, contain the very same rural stations in the rural station network. But I’m not sure, because they don’t say. For the USSR and Australia, they don’t say how many of their rural network stations are used in these referenced gridded networks, or what the status – rural vs. urban – is for the rest. Presumably the gridded networks include many of their rural stations, as they are stations in the same areas over the same time periods. For China, they do mention that 24 of their 42 rural stations are part of the referenced gridded network. However, they don’t mention how many *other* stations in the gridded network are used, or whether these other stations are rural or urban. (Or even why the remaining 18 stations are NOT used.)

      So, the three major comparisons – urban networks to gridded networks – are useless, because we have no idea what the gridded networks look like.

      But what about the 42 pairs of stations in China? (For China, they compare the rural network to the gridded network AND an urban network.) It turns out that the 42 pairs of stations is the ONLY time in the paper that solely rural stations are compared to solely urban ones. In all the other cases, the “rural networks” are compared to networks that may or may not be rural! (And may or may not include some or all of the rural network itself.)

      And here’s the kicker: remember, the whole point of the paper is to show there is no difference in temperature trends between specifically rural sites and the unknown mix of gridded networks, and then use this to claim that any UHI effect is very small. But there is one exception to all these comparisons: one data set in this paper that doesn’t fit the rest, and does show a UHI effect. That exception is in the 42 pairs of Chinese stations.

      The only time they directly compare SOLELY rural sites to SOLELY urban sites, they find an effect. And their data show that the rural sites in China increased by 0.23 C over 30 years, while the urban sites increased by 0.39 C during the same 30 years.

      In other words, this paper actually shows a 0.5 C trend per century due to the UHI effect across stations that have always been urban, when compared to stations that have always been rural. (Presumably, the effect is even greater when one considers the number of stations that were once rural and *became* urban.) This is an order of magnitude greater than the amount they claim in their conclusions.

      So yeah … even at face value, the paper is rubbish. I concur with those above who said the reviewers did a terrible job. Especially since, you know … I found all this out by just reading the damn paper.

      • HaroldW
        Posted Nov 8, 2010 at 4:31 AM | Permalink

        Ted –
        Yes, the Chinese comparisons in Jones et al. 1990 are worthless, even if they had the metadata.

        Jones has revisited China in a JGR 2008 article “Urbanization effects in large-scale temperature records, with an emphasis on China”, saying “Urban-related warming over China is shown to be about 0.1°C decade−1 over the period 1951–2004.” So 0.5°C over just the last half-century. That’s 10 times the global upper limit posited in Jones et al. 1990, although to be fair, this is only one region. I haven’t read the article (paywalled), so I have no idea if the methodology is improved. [Perhaps that’s coming soon from our host in part 4?] Even relatively rural sites can experience UHI increases as they grow, and personally, I don’t consider an area with ~150K population to be rural anyway. [From part 1, Wang et al. 1990 claimed the 42 rural sites averaged 147K population.]

        • Posted Nov 8, 2010 at 10:07 AM | Permalink

          Re: HaroldW (Nov 8 04:31),
          The newer Jones et al paper comments on this difference:
          “An urban-related warming trend of 0.1C/decade is almost an order of magnitude larger than that given by Jones et al. [1990] and Li et al. [2004b]. Possible reasons for the differences include: (1) different periods of analysis (e.g., 1954–1983 for Jones et al. [1990] versus the longer period from 1951–2004 used in this paper and 1961–2000 in Ren et al. [2008]) and (2) different regions of China (eastern in Jones et al. [1990], northern in Ren et al. [2008] and all except the far west in this study).”
          CA readers may be able to think of another possible reason.
          Another interesting comment is:
          “it has not been possible to locate all 42 pairs within the CMA database”.

          • Petethefin
            Posted Nov 9, 2010 at 3:30 AM | Permalink

            Jones confirmed his conclusion of Chinese UHI of 0.1 C per decade (in other words 1 C per century) during an interview under the inquiery by a committee of the British Parliament (there’s a video of his interview). What’s really disturbing is that the AGW-camp still claims UHI is irrelevant although Jones’ science says it’s remarkbly higher than the claimed global temperature anomaly per century.

      • hr
        Posted Nov 8, 2010 at 7:14 AM | Permalink

        I find it interesting that Wang and Karl, who had both been co-authors of Jones et al (1990), seem to have found it necessary to publicly contradict conclusions which they themselves had signed up to less than 3 months previously. In Wang et al (1990) Wang and Karl concluded that over the 30 year period of their study (which used the same raw data from eastern China for the same period as Jones at al) “…results suggest a general increase in heat island intensity of about 0.1C, but this has not been constant in time.”

        In addition to finding seasonal and geographic variations in the urban heat island effect, Wang et al also found a substantial decrease in the urban effect during the periods of the ‘Great Leap Forward’ (1958-61) and the ‘Cultural Revolution’ (1966-71) and an increasing trend in the urban effect afterwards. “The magnitude of the increase is particularly large after 1977”. The authors explain: “During those periods, many factories were closed and production halted through a reduction of the staff.” After 1972, “…industry functions gradually returned to normal”.

        None of this important material appears in the earlier paper by Jones et al. I for one am led to wonder what the purpose of the earlier paper was. What, for instance, was the point of Jones at al obtaining carefully selected geographically linked pairs of urban and rural stations and then, instead of comparing each rural station with its urban partner, lumping all the rural stations together in one basket and all the urban stations in another basket? It was left to Wang et al to make proper use of the Chinese data.

        When I read the Jones et al (1990) paper the expression ‘junk science’ sprang to mind. IMO we should be grateful to Wang, Zeng and Karl, and to the GRL journal, for making a significant contribution to scientific knowledge, which Jones et al – and the journal Nature – had, with the same Chinese data at their disposal, conspicuously failed to do.

        Chronology of the two papers:
        Jones et al: published 13 September 1990, Nature.
        Wang et al: received 24 August, revised 12 October, accepted 15 October, published December 1990, GRL.

        • Posted Nov 8, 2010 at 8:34 AM | Permalink

          Wang et al. (1990) has been largely ignored in discussions about UHI. If there is some reason for doing that, it should be in the peer-reviewed literature. I searched that literature (using the ISI Web of Knowledge) for work that compared Jones et al. and Wang et al. I found only one such work, by Riches et al. (Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 1992). Riches et al., which is co-authored by Wang, state the following (p.588).

          Jones et al. (1990) have assessed the urbanization effects in time series of surface air temperature over land areas in European parts of the CIS, eastern Australia, and eastern China. The results suggest that urbanization influence appears to be small. However, Wang et al. (1990) have performed a more detailed study on the urban heat island effect in China. The effects were found to have a seasonal dependency, which varied considerably across the country.

      • Bernie
        Posted Nov 8, 2010 at 7:34 AM | Permalink

        I agree the 1990 paper is really, really weak. It is so bad, that it raises the question of who was the editor.

        In addition to your points, I think it is worth remembering that since we are talking about rates of change and since UHI is generally viewed as being related to the log of population change, then it is very likely that for some rural – urban pairs the UHI effect would be greater in the rural location. All this would argue for a more detailed listing of pairwise station by station data by the same research team in some other publication.

        • hr
          Posted Nov 8, 2010 at 8:42 AM | Permalink

          Good point. Yet another possibility is that a similar level of UHI effect(I prefer ‘built environment effect’ BEE) could be reflected in temperature records from both urban and nearby suburban/semi-rural areas. Data such as those presented for the London region by Jones et al (2008) suffer from this type of ambiguity. The authors refer to “…UHIs at London and Vienna, where city center sites are warmer than surrounding rural locations. Both of these UHIs however do not contribute to warming trends over the 20th century because the influences of the cities on surface temperatures have not changed over this time.” I would maintain that Jones et al have no way of knowing this. From the data they present it could equally well be the case that the whole region around and including London has undergone a general BEE-induced warming during the 20thC.

          • Bernie
            Posted Nov 8, 2010 at 9:40 AM | Permalink

            To stay on topic and not to rework UHI arguments – I believe one of Steve’s points is that this type of analysis needs to archive its raw and analyzed data. The authors and the journals that published the articles are equally responsible for this very embarrassing situation. As Wegman put it, right answer + wrong method = bad science, with no presumption that Jones et al have the right answer!

          • hr
            Posted Nov 8, 2010 at 11:42 AM | Permalink

            Bernie: Totally agreed! I suppose in 1990 it wasn’t considered important. But it is vital, as even Gavin Schmidt seems to accept. Will ‘Nature Climate Change’ enforce the rule tho’?

        • Ted Carmichael
          Posted Nov 8, 2010 at 3:19 PM | Permalink

          I agree – good point. But also remember, Jones 1990 didn’t even investigate the effect of growing communities. They simply assumed the rural stations remained rural, and the urban stations remained urban. Only the population levels in 1984 were used to classify station status.

          Sometimes I feel like these guys aren’t even trying to do good science – they’re just constructing an argument, emphasizing the conclusions and not the methods, and then running with it. It’s just shocking to me how often these papers are relied on, and never examined closely.

      • Craig Loehle
        Posted Nov 8, 2010 at 10:51 AM | Permalink

        Peas. Thimbles. And I love the conclusions that are unrelated to the analysis in the paper.

      • Posted Nov 8, 2010 at 2:01 PM | Permalink

        Re: Ted Carmichael (Nov 8 00:51),

        Thank you Ted. I found your exposition very clear and very revealing. It ought to make its own post somewhere.

        What disturbs me is that IPCC should have put so much reliance on this rogue paper, when we have known for ages that UHI has been increasing, with asphalt, concrete, central heating, air-con, cars, and so on. Here’s one simple but very clear picture of UHI trends from Russia (Salehard, Yamal) and here’s a Russian scientist from Heartland giving actual figures based on analysing Russian/CRU data rel. to population size

        • Ted Carmichael
          Posted Nov 8, 2010 at 3:08 PM | Permalink

          Thanks, Lucy. I was afraid I had muddled it, so I’m glad it was clear to you, at least.

          It amazes me still how often simply looking at the details in climate science – reading the original papers, walking through the arguments – exposes such shoddy work. Not all papers are as bad as this, of course. But this paper is seminal? Relied on by the IPCC? Absurd. It’s like they’re not even trying sometimes.

          This is why I always encourage folks – especially smart folks whom I respect – to investigate for themselves. I love, for example, the fact that Judy Curry is looking hard at this stuff now, and no longer accepting summaries at face value. That is the only way for the science to get better.

          • Posted Nov 9, 2010 at 12:29 PM | Permalink

            Re: Ted Carmichael (Nov 8 15:08), Summary of Jones et al. UHI “study”.

            And another thanks from me. It’s hard to believe that reviewers passed this POS. Bah.

            “When men are most sure and arrogant they are commonly most mistaken, giving views to passion without that proper deliberation which alone can secure them from the grossest absurdities.”
            — David Hume.

      • EJD
        Posted Nov 9, 2010 at 11:40 AM | Permalink

        Nice summation, much appreciated.

    30. alex verlinden
      Posted Nov 8, 2010 at 7:47 AM | Permalink

      Thanks again for the series, and the other comments on previous topics …

      a year ago, when reading climategate emails, I couldn’t make a lot of sense of many … but if you put them in the needed context, it all becomes very much clear …

    31. Posted Nov 8, 2010 at 8:05 AM | Permalink

      What strikes me as a microbiologist is how far removed from correct standards of science this click is. In fact, the mind frame of deception seems to permeate the whole subject of climate change. In microbiology, we have the most ideal tools of science available, allowing experimentation in small culture tubes or flasks, while physics is mostly math, and the experimentation is largely limited to the applied end where technology is developed. The point is that these limitations seem to create some real sloppy thought patterns in climatology.

      • SamG
        Posted Nov 8, 2010 at 8:59 AM | Permalink

        Garry, I loved your work on the sixteen men of tain.

      • HaroldW
        Posted Nov 8, 2010 at 10:11 AM | Permalink

        It is a good point you raise. Climatology does not have the ability to perform the precisely controlled experiments which are available to e.g. biology. As a result, many of its efforts (such as the attempt to quantify the effects of UHI on temperature trends) can only grind through temperature records, trying to separate the many factors which affect those records. Given the relatively low “signal” to noise, the number and interconnectedness of variables involved, and the absence or unreliability of metadata (which describe other influences), it’s impossible to arrive at conclusions with the same level of certainty as, say, that which the cultures provide in your field.

        I think the IPCC’s largest negative contribution to the discussions, has been a glossing over of the uncertainties, attempting to portray the current state-of-the-art as being as reliable as other fields of science which *do* have the ability to conduct controlled tests. Climatology is more like economics than like biology or physics. And how many economists predict the next year’s GDP well?

        • Pat Frank
          Posted Nov 8, 2010 at 7:11 PM | Permalink

          Climatology is more like astrophysics, where observational data is matched against predictions from theory. The disparity in practice makes a compelling case. In the latter, the scientists almost invariably temper their discussion and conclusions in light of the errors and uncertainties in observational metrics and the incompleteness of the physical theory. In the former, this care is almost entirely missing from the AGW partisan branch of climatology. The only question remaining in my mind concerns the cause of such widespread and long-term carelessness.

    32. John Trigge
      Posted Nov 9, 2010 at 1:55 AM | Permalink

      Re Keenan’s article submission to E&E, how is it that the editor (Peiser) is able to get one of the main characters in this sad saga to be a reviewer? Isn’t that a clear conflict of interest and it could not be expected for Jones to perform an unbaissed review?

      Also, what confidentiality requirements are there on reviewers? As “Jones immediately forwarded the article to Wang, Karl, Mann and Trenberth,…”, is this not also as bad a breach of confidentiality that they are ascribing to Keenan?

      If this is how Jones ‘reviews’ submissions to scientific journals, perhaps he should not be considered in this role in the future.

      • Posted Nov 9, 2010 at 4:03 AM | Permalink

        Editor Peiser asked Jones to review the paper at my suggestion. I warned Peiser, though, that Jones would likely be against the paper. After receiving Jones’ comments, I e-mailed Peiser the following.

        My reason for suggesting Jones was that I suspected he would be the biggest critic (aside from Wang himself), and it would be interesting to see what he had to say. &hellip. When I was in grad school, someone told me that a good way to get the errors out of your work is to show the work to your biggest critics. Those people will make the effort to find even tiny problems. I have followed that advice. Jones’ comments have led to minor rewording of a few sentences. So it worked.

        Jones did indeed breach reviewer confidentiality by sending the paper out to others.

        • Posted Nov 9, 2010 at 4:54 AM | Permalink

          Brilliant. (And thanks for the Linus Torvalds analogy at the Guardian debate in July – a quote that’s now a treasured part of my sprawling personal wiki!)

    33. AntonyIndia
      Posted Nov 9, 2010 at 10:37 AM | Permalink

      A relevant document from 22 February 2008 by Wei‐Chyung Wang in the climategate files is

      • Mark F
        Posted Nov 9, 2010 at 11:27 AM | Permalink

        To paraphrase:
        Trust me, the stations are valid, and it’s too much trouble to dig up the data to allow anyone to verify or challenge that. So get lost.

      • HaroldW
        Posted Nov 9, 2010 at 2:07 PM | Permalink

        Thanks Antony. From that input, it appears that the information existed but was not properly archived or even summarized at the time. Yet another illustration of the need for strong data archiving policies for papers which are data analyses.

        An interesting perspective is the following

        Other Relevant Notes:
        On 18 February 2008, Professor Jones (Lead author of the 1990 Nature paper) sent me a manuscript, “Urbanization effects in large‐scale temperature records, with an emphasis on China” which was recently submitted to J. Geophysical Research for publication. In the paper, The most relevant finding is that comparing the 42‐rural station data used in the 1990 GRL and Nature papers with those adjusted for homogeneity of a 728‐station network yield very much the same results, implying that the station moves, if any, really did not matter when a representative set of stations (here 42‐stations) was used.

        “Very much the same results” isn’t how I would describe a 0.1 K/decade trend attribution to UHI [Jones et al. 2008] compared to 0.05 K/century [Jones et al. 1990].

    34. Bernie
      Posted Nov 11, 2010 at 2:53 PM | Permalink

      Will there be a part 4 of the China Network?

    35. Jeff Norman
      Posted Nov 11, 2010 at 3:34 PM | Permalink

      Ahh, man! He’s become distracted.

      • johnh
        Posted Nov 16, 2010 at 5:39 AM | Permalink

        Jones has changed his mind about revisiting the 1990 paper, its now all OK and no revision is required. One year on and its back to business as usual !!!!

        ‘Jones now says that is unnecesary. He said that he had been under pressure to concede errors earlier this year and had been on medication when he had given the interview to Nature in February. The idea that measuring stations had moved in China had been misinterpreted, he said, because his paper had talked of 84 stations from a larger group of 265. For his paper, Jones said he had chosen those measuring stations that had moved the least.’

        • Posted Nov 16, 2010 at 10:53 AM | Permalink

          Dr Phil is obviously missing the point. No one has said the stations had moved, but that we don’t KNOW if any of them had. Without the station histories, data integrity cannot be established.

    3 Trackbacks

    1. […] Part 3 has this Climategate email from Wigley worth noting: Phil, […]

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      […] Phil Jones and the China Network: Part 3 Part 1 Part 2 In today’s post, I’ll follow the affair through Keenan’s complaint to SUNY, which is […] […]

    3. […] Phil Jones and the China Network: Part 3 […]

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