I’ve got a few inquiries from reporters about the one-year anniversary of Climategate and was looking back at early comments. Here’s one that I didn’t notice at the time and made me smile. This is from am email contained in a document and isn’t in the searchable files. Canadian ice core specialist teases Briffa about his
“bloody trees that can not remember one century to the next,,,

And some other bits and pieces,,, The NGRIP record has the trend in it
that is no doubt closer to the truth for the fixed elevation temperature
history. But even there one could need a correction for elevation
change. The elevation corrected south GRIP Holocene has a very strong
negative delta trend in it and I expect there should be some correction
done to the north GRIP record too,, eventually I think they should all
come out looking like our records from Northern Canada. Now at least
ice core records have some low frequencies to correct… not like your
bloody trees that can not remember one century to the next,,,
(alderheimers )


  1. Posted Nov 8, 2010 at 11:27 AM | Permalink

    YA,MALady of the mind. A L’ARCHetypal lapse of memory. Maybe that’s why the sample was so small; couldn’t remember where he’d left the data.

  2. Bruce
    Posted Nov 8, 2010 at 11:35 AM | Permalink

    Maybe the trees were just lying.

  3. L Nettles
    Posted Nov 8, 2010 at 12:07 PM | Permalink

    If a tree lies in the forest and nobody adjusts it….

    • Roger Carr
      Posted Nov 9, 2010 at 2:06 AM | Permalink

      Sweet, I. Nettles!

  4. Posted Nov 8, 2010 at 1:08 PM | Permalink

    By the way, my friend VukCevic has noticed that the inverted 10Be record bears an uncanny resemblance to the Central England Temperature record.


    • Tim Channon
      Posted Nov 8, 2010 at 11:17 PM | Permalink

      Of course *that* 10Be does.

      There are major problems, unfortunately, with 10Be data.

      If you go to say Fujidome there is a large difference in the data.

      What I think is at the work is the flux is computed using the weather as one variable. The Antarctic tends to isolated by the circumpolar current and so on. Greenland is coupled to the North Atlantic.

      Go figure.

      You can also see this via satellite latitudinal correlation. If you know of a reliable dataset, please tell me, it’s a key.

      • Tim Channon
        Posted Nov 9, 2010 at 10:08 AM | Permalink

        I realise in hindsight that post of mine comes across as aggressive which wasn’t and isn’t intended.

        The observation by VukCevic is useful and as in dendro the interlinking of geographic regions is likely.

        Perhaps the CET region 14C can help.

      • oneuniverse
        Posted Nov 9, 2010 at 1:24 PM | Permalink

        Tim, possibly of interest: “On the common solar signal in different cosmogenic isotope data sets” (Usoskin et al., 2008). 10Be deposition is thought to be quicker and more direct than 14C, which is usually oxidised to CO2 and entrained in the carbon cycle before eventual deposition. Hence 10Be is expected to show greater regional variations (except for depositions on the ocean floor).

  5. Mike M.
    Posted Nov 8, 2010 at 1:34 PM | Permalink

    Speaking of Keith Briffa, what is he up to nowadays? How has he managed to stay out of the news for all of 2010? Ring him up, Steve. See if he is still alive and kicking. We certainly can’t expect any reporters to ask for HIS thoughts as we come up to the anniversary.

  6. Ed Waage
    Posted Nov 8, 2010 at 2:30 PM | Permalink

    The wag who coined the “alderheimers” term was David Fisher of the Natural Resources Canada, a government agency.

    Continuing this walk down memory lane, I note that Fisher found some interesting results using oxygen isotope studies in ice cores about abrupt changes in weather patterns at 800 AD (start of MWP) and during the 1840’s (end of LIA) at Mt Logan in the Southern Yukon. It was discussed previously here at:

    There is also mention of this at the NRC website:

    where it states, inter alia, “Under modern conditions water sources have a range of SST from +30 to +10 C, but during earlier time periods, like the ‘little Ice Age’, the sources were limited to the higher latitudes where SSTs are about +15 to +10 °C.”

    (Eric Steig is mentioned as participating in this study.)

  7. Paul
    Posted Nov 8, 2010 at 2:38 PM | Permalink

    Steve, As it happens there is a review of climategate on Swedish TV right right this very moment. The episode will repeat several times.

    You, Ross, Jones and of course Mann & Gavin have been featured.

    20:00 – 21:00
    Vetenskapens värld

    Vetenskapsmagasin. Säsong 1. Del 12 av 18. När den så kallade “climategate” briserade, veckorna före klimattoppmötet i Köpenhamn förra året, hamnade hela klimatforskningen i gungning. Flera inflytelserika forskare blev utsatta för datorintrång och de anklagades för forskningsfusk. “Vetenskapens värld” skildrar klimatkriget. Bredbild. Även i SVT2 12/11, SVT2 13/11 och SVT1 14/11.

    Scientific Magazine, Season 1 episode 12 of 18. When the so called climategate exploded the weeks before the Copenhagen top meeting last year. The entire climate science started to rock. Several influential scientists were exposed to computer hacking and they were accused of cheating in science. The world of science[news magazine] gives you an interpretation of the climate war. Widescreen Även i SVT2 12/11, SVT2 13/11 och SVT1 14/11.

  8. Paul
    Posted Nov 8, 2010 at 3:07 PM | Permalink

    Here is the link to watch the Swedish TV Climategate review program online that I mentioned above.

    (works in Sweden but I don’t know if anyone can view it outside of Sweden)

    It will be available until the 8th of December.

    Most of the program is in English.

  9. Bryn
    Posted Nov 8, 2010 at 4:26 PM | Permalink

    Paul, thanks for the link. It works in Oz, I am watching it right now.

  10. Posted Nov 8, 2010 at 6:11 PM | Permalink


    Thanks for the link, just watched the whole film (even could understand most of the Swedish comment with my limited knowledge of Norwegian).

    Started quite good, but in the second halve too much of Oreskes (of the flawed enquete of the “consensus” within the climate scientists world), too much of poor guy Jones (we all should feel sorry for him), too much of the late Schneider and too much of the “link” between skeptics and “big oil”, “big capital”, similarities with “big tobacco”, “right” politics, etc.

    As there was almost no filmed reaction of the sceptics in the second halve, most people without deeper knowledge would only remember the last part…

  11. oneuniverse
    Posted Nov 8, 2010 at 6:36 PM | Permalink

    “Tree Growth Besides A Rain Gauge And Thermometer”
    Charles Lyon (1940, Ecology)

    The hurricane of September, 1938, felled a mixed stand of trees in the College Park in Hanover, New Hampshire. The dominant trees were 70-80 years old, rooted in shallow soils over and beside a ledge with irregular outcrops. It was fortunate and important for the study that most of the trees had been set out by hand and were all so evenly scattered over an area of 5 to 6 acres as to remove the possibility of distribution soil and exposure preference for the species. The trees used for measurements of rings were selected for large numbers of rings and for freedom from unusual growth conditions for the area. They came from all the benches and slopes and from exposures that varied from north through east and south.

    At the western edge of the site and at the same altitude (603 ft.) as the highest part of it, the records of rainfall have been taken continuously since 1862 and of temperatures since 1876.


    A survey of all the correlations found for each of the six species may be summarized as follows: White Pine is very sensitive to the the water supplied by rainfall of various periods and by the temperature of the early spring months. Scotch Pine is less sensitive to the supply of water, but its growth responds well to moisture supplied from April through August. Austrian Pine depends primarily upon the water provided prior to the growing season, but a combination of factors is in control during the period of active growth. Norway Spruce grows in proportion to the water made available by temperature effects of the period March to May inclusive. European Larch profits from water supplied in early spring, particularly by abnormally high March temperatures, but during May it also grows in direct proportion to the temperature of the air. Red Oak alone fails to show a significant correlation with water supplied before growing season, but its growth depends somewhat upon the rain that falls during its growing season. This species of oak was unique also in its significant growth response to July temperatures, a relationship that is not unexpected in view of the preference of oaks for warm climates.

    I’d be grateful if someone would provide references to more recent studies.

    • oneuniverse
      Posted Nov 9, 2010 at 1:25 PM | Permalink

      I should have added : Trees may be ‘remembering’ their drinking days more than their days in the sun.

  12. bubbagyro
    Posted Nov 8, 2010 at 8:46 PM | Permalink


    Nice bring…

    So then, tree species are heterogeneous in their abilities to exploit the vicissitudes of environmental niches??? Nah…can’t be, it has to be the CO2 ‘cuz CO2 be very bad.

    Exeter, NH USA

  13. Stacey
    Posted Nov 10, 2010 at 8:53 AM | Permalink

    Naomi Orestes discusses the tobacco smoking advocates and say, I paraphrase ” The tobacco industry fought against the science”

    She may just as well have said Climate Scientists fought against the science.

    • insults
      Posted Nov 23, 2010 at 3:00 PM | Permalink

      Understand your opinion but also Orestes is far from crazy on this. There are climate contrarians that behave very much like she depicts them. It would be a faulty generalization to put everyone against GW in that pool but I can relate to her outrage. Once watched a televised debate in which the climate skeptic/Meteorologist did not know enough to pass an into climate class. With incompetents like that joining in, who would not comprehend Oretes’ outrage.

      PS “Climate Scientists” with 2 capital letters, really? Capitals?

  14. Oslo
    Posted Nov 10, 2010 at 4:16 PM | Permalink

    And an old classic, in the spririt of celebration:


    Briffa has already made a preliminary response and he failed to explain his selection
    procedure. Further, he refused to give up the data for several years, and was forced to
    do so only when he submitted to a journal that demanded data archiving and actually
    enforced the practice.

    More significantly, Briffa’s analysis is irrelevant. Dendrochonology is a bankrupt
    approach. They admit that they cannot distiguish causal elements contributing to tree
    ring size. Further, they rely on recent temperature data by which to select recent tree
    data (excluding other data) and then turn around and claim that the tree ring data
    explains the recent temperature data. If you can give a principled and reasoned defense
    of Briffa (see the discussion on Watt’s website) then go for it. I’d be fascinated, as
    would a rather large number of others.

    None of this, of course, detracts for the need to do research on geoengineering. David

  15. Posted Nov 11, 2010 at 1:07 AM | Permalink

    My fav is from dendro demi-god, Ed Cook:

    Without trying to prejudice this work, but also because of what I almost think I know to be the case, the results of this study will show that we can probably say a fair bit about 100 year variability was like with any certainty (i.e. we know with certainty that we know fu**-all).

    That’s just one nugget in that email, the full text is here, and is pretty damning testimony about the use of tree rings as thermometers.

    Steve: y’know, that’s a really interesting email that’s been pretty much overlooked. In my own re-examination of 2003, I didn’t pay attention to it. It occurs a month before MM2003. it’s as though major people in the field understand the problems, but not if the problems are pointed out by third parties.

    • oneuniverse
      Posted Nov 11, 2010 at 7:02 AM | Permalink

      Thanks Jeff, WordPress has unfortunately mangled the quotation – everything between the angled brackets is missing. This is the full quotation, with angled brackets replaced with “less-than” and “greater-than” :

      Without trying to prejudice this work, but also because of what I almost think I know to be the case, the results of this study will show that we can probably say a fair bit about less-than 100 year extra-tropical NH temperature variability (at least as far as we believe the proxy estimates), but honestly know fuck-all about what the greater-than 100 year variability was like with any certainty (i.e. we know with certainty that we know fu**-all)

      • Posted Nov 11, 2010 at 9:38 PM | Permalink

        Thanks for that. I noticed that it was mangled but figured since the link was there, folks would go to see for themselves.

        • oneuniverse
          Posted Nov 12, 2010 at 8:10 AM | Permalink

          Ok – one problem is that it’s not obvious that the quotation’s been mangled – although the truncated portion begins and ends mid-sentence, it still almost reads normally and without too much of a shift in meaning.

          It also seems more efficient to correct it here once, rather than relying on every reader to discover it for themselves down the line.

        • Posted Nov 12, 2010 at 11:37 PM | Permalink

          Roger that.

    • Posted Nov 11, 2010 at 9:39 PM | Permalink

      My thoughts as well, Steve. All the uncertainty noted in some of these emails seems to have been forgotten for the various IPCC reports.

  16. phillip west
    Posted Nov 20, 2010 at 6:32 PM | Permalink

    Bunch of hypocrites. You can make any amount of disparaging comments about scientists, you praise scientists who criticise them harshly. You cheer each other on. If they are critical or dismissive of people, that is a crime beyond belief, that should result in formal reprimands or dismissal. What is more, his was private communication between people. You wallow in the joy of doing this publicly.


  17. Reality check
    Posted Nov 23, 2010 at 3:05 PM | Permalink

    Who can really figure out what this guy meant in this e-mail???. I cannot parse it while everyone here just kind of assumes it means what they want it to mean: That he is saying the trees are unreliable in the exact sort of way that invalidates his ideas about climate change.

    Was the tree species he mentioned really as skitzo as he claimed or was it hyperbole? Did they use the data from those trees to reach any high profile conclusions? If so did that analysis turn out to be kosher or iffy?

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