Recently, Geoffrey Boulton’s report and Nature editorial provided more pious language urging data archiving by hoarding scientists. As I mentioned in my initial comments on Boulton’s editorial, there have been many such pious pronouncements over the years without the slightest impact on, for example, the serial non-archiving couple of Lonnie Thompson and Ellen Mosley-Thompson, who, as it turns out, is an even worse offender than husband Lonnie, if such can be imagined. Their long career of non-archiving has flourished despite clear U.S. federal government policies dating back to 1991 which, on paper, require thorough data archiving by the climate community as a condition of receiving grants. Unfortunately, the U.S. climate funding bureaucracy has been thoroughly co-opted by the climate industry
and has failed to enforce regulations that, on paper, would require the Thompsons and others to archive data. Unfortunately, Boulton failed to do any assessment of why even apparently mandatory government policies have been insufficient to deter to serial non-archivers.
U.S. Policy on Climate Data
In an early Climate Audit post, I briefly reviewed the high-level policy under the U.S. Global Change Research Program, a policy that would be entirely satisfactory, if it were enforced. The policy statement stated:
Full and open sharing of the full suite of global data sets for all global change researchers is a fundamental objective. As data are made available, global change researchers should have full and open access to them without restrictions on research use….
For those programs in which selected principal investigators have initial periods of exclusive data use, data should be made openly available as soon as they become widely useful. In each case the funding agency should explicitly define the duration of any exclusive use period…
Deciding when data become widely useful is the responsibility of the funding agency, which should explicitly define the periods of restricted access, if any. In the past, some Principal Investigators have retained data for indefinite periods and this has inhibited their widespread use. This practice should be eliminated
In 1997, they added that grant language should include explicit terms on how data was to be archived:
SUGGESTED DATA PRODUCT REQUIREMENT FOR GRANTS, COOPERATIVE AGREEMENTS, AND CONTRACTS. Describe the plan to make available the data products produced, whether from observations or analyses, which contribute significantly to the grant results. The data products will be made available to the grant without restriction and be accompanied by comprehensive metadata documentation adequate for specialists and non-specialists alike to be able to not only understand both how and where the data products were obtained but adequate for them to be used with confidence for generations. The data products and their metadata will be provided in a standard exchange format no later than the grant final report or the publication of the data product’s associated results, whichever comes first.
Although Boulton’s report made recommendations with similar objectives, Boulton did not review U.S. experience or why seemingly sufficient U.S. policy has been unequal to the (admittedly difficult) challenge of getting the Thompsons to archive data funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation.
While Lonnie Thompson has been a frequent example at Climate Audit of a serial non-archiver, it turns out that Ellen Mosley-Thompson is even worse. She has spent her entire career in the ice core business> According to her CV, she has led “nine expeditions to Antarctica and six to Greenland to retrieve ice cores”. However, a search of the NOAA paleo archive for data archived by Ellen Mosley-Thompson shows only one data set from Antarctica or Greenland associated with her. Lest this example be taken to mar her otherwise unblemished record of non-archiving, the data was published in 1981 while she was still junior and, according to its readme, it was transcribed by a third party and contributed in her name. I believe that it’s fair that she has not archived at NOAA (or, to my knowledge, elsewhere) any data from the “nine expeditions to Antarctica and six to Greenland”.
Mosley-Thompson has had an important leadership role in the U.S. PARCA program (Program for Regional Arctic Climate Assessment), which drilled 49 short and medium-length cores in Greeenland between 1995 and 1998. She was senior author of a summary article in 2001 – see here.
Despite the importance of d18O as a climate proxy and the promised benefits of the PARCA Program for Regional Arctic Climate Assessment, not a single d18O measurement from the PARCA program has been archived at the NOAA paleoclimate archive nor, to my knowledge and I’ve looked very carefully, elsewhere.
Squiggles for 6 of Mrs Lonnie’s Greenland cores (5 PARCA and one 1989 core) and 3 of her Antarctic cores (dating back to the early 1990s) were shown in a 2006 article. None of this data has been archived.
Nor, to my knowledge, has any other American scientist archived any Greenland d18O measurement for any year subsequent to the inception of the IPCC in 1990. I’ve looked closely at the major archives (NOAA Pangaea and NSIDC and the most recent archived d18O measurement from Greenland by a U.S. scientist appears to be from 1986 (see here), the most recent year archived from 1989 hole GRIP89-1.
The total failure of the PARCA program to archive a single d18O measurement is really quite remarkable.
Will an editorial from Boulton change the practices of the serial non-archivers at Ohio State? Not an ice core’s chance.
The only thing that would make hard cases like Lonnie Thompson and Ellen Mosley-Thompson pay attention – or for that matter the field as a whole – is to treat violations of U.S. federal data archiving policies as seriously as, say, an NCAA recruiting violation. In my opinion, the entire Ohio State ice core program should be put on probation by the NSF until they’ve archived their entire data set – not a small task given over 20 years of systematic non-compliance.
Postscript: Only one of the 10 Mosley-Thompson ice cores illustrated in Figure 1 of Mosley-Thompson et al 2006 here goes back to the Medieval period – a O18 series from Plateau Remote, Antarctica. A series that ought to be of considerable interest to multiproxy authors given the shortage of highly resolved series that include the medieval period. This series was not considered by Gergis. Nor was it included in the Neukom and Gergis list, although two other unarchived Mosley-Thompson series (Dyer Plateau, Siple Station) were considered. CA readers will probably not be surprised to learn that the unarchived and unconsidered Plateau Remote O18 series did not have a Hockey- Stick shape, as shown below.
The only publication of this data, to my knowledge, was in a volume from a 1996 NATO workshop here (edited by Jones and Bradley.) This article raises a number of interesting questions about the apparent long-term cooling of d18O values at Plateau Remote over the Holocene. None of these caveats recur in the 2006 article, by which time articles by the Thompsons tend to be little more than global warming pamphlets.
Postscript 2 – Ellen Mosley-Thompson has an interesting cameo appearance in the Climategate emails. She was the EOS editor who rushed through the Mann et al 2003 EOS article on Soon and Baliunas 2003. The article took about 10 days from being commissioned to being accepted. They giggled among themselves when Willie Soon inquired about the peer review process. The character assassination of this article has not been fully analysed. In one despicable email, Tom Wigley acknowledged that Soon and Baliunas might have a point that 20th century precipitation was not unusual (a theme revisited in AR5 Zero and First Draft), writing to Mann and others (2003-06-06 682.):
Well put! By chance SB03 may have got some of these precip things right, but we don’t want to give them any way to claim credit.
Mann, Wigley and others accomplished this by misrepresenting the actual content of Soon and Baliunas. The Mann article was rushed through by Mosley-Thompson just in time to be used against Soon and Baliunas in a Senate hearing in late July 2003 – the hearing at which von Storch announced his resignation as editor of Climate Research.
Update June 3: I’ve edited this post slightly. See here.