CG3: The Gold Medalist

bolt_mann Last summer during the London Olympics, Josh had some fun with the “Climate Olympics”, with Mann at left in the iconic gold medal pose of Usain Bolt, the famous runner.

Little did we know that during an earlier Olympics, Jones was disappointed at being silver medalist in statistical abuse – to gold medalist Mann. CG3 1093965453:

date: Tue Aug 31 11:17:33 2004
from: Phil Jones

subject: Fwd: On the Role of Statistics in Climate Research, Tim Lambert, Phil Jones et al?
to: Rasmus Benestad

Rasmus and Mike,

In the email below, Mike seems to have won the gold medal for statistical abuse and I have the silver. I seemed to have tried too hard to explain my techniques. I tried really hard to get the gold medal – Mike has a degree in maths/stats ! I’ll have to redeem myself in AR4 and switch the places for the 2008 Olympiad – the AR4 coming out in 2007 should put me well in the lead.

I clearly didn’t allow for the knowledge of the judges – I think I’ll appeal!


The category remains hotly contested, with many new contestants. Jones, whatever his other sins, has tended to use fairly simple methods and I find it hard to picture him maintaining a spot on the podium. Mann, of course, has a repertoire of upside-down techniques that are highly regarded by climate referees and which make it very difficult for new contestants to seize the gold medal.

Marcott’s Zonal Reconstructions

I’m going to do a detailed post on my diagnosis of the Marcott uptick, but before I do so, I want to comment on the reconstructions for NH and SH extratropics, neither of which have attracted sufficient notice though both are very remarkable. In a substantive sense, because orbital changes have different effects on NH and SH, the difference between NHX and SHX proxies is a source of substantive interest and is what ought to have been reported on.

In the running text, Marcott et al had emphasized that their reconstruction was “indistinguishable within uncertainty”. This was illustrated in their Figure 1E, which showed the Mann08 GLB and NH reconstructions (which of several versions is not denoted in the caption), Moberg 2005 (NH) and the Wahl-Ammann version of MBH98 (NH).

Our global temperature reconstruction for the past 1500 years is indistinguishable within uncertainty from the Mann et al. (2) reconstruction… This similarity confirms that published temperature reconstructions of the past two millennia capture long-term variability, despite their short time span (3, 12, 13).

The zonal (NHX, SHX and tropics) reconstructions were illustrated in Marcott Figure 2I,J,K, but Marcott et al conspicuously did not compare their zonal reconstructions with previous NH and SH reconstructions, instead comparing them to proxies often considered to be precipitation proxies. In their text, they stated:

Trends in regional temperature reconstructions show strong similarities with high-resolution precipitation records, consistently associating greater warmth with greater wetness (Fig. 2, H to J). For example, extratropical Northern Hemisphere mid-to- high–latitude temperature correlates well with records of Asian monsoon intensity (14, 15 -Dongge O18) and the position of the Atlantic intertropical convergence zone (16 – Cariaco) (Fig. 2H), tropical temperatures track precipitation proxies from speleothems in Borneo (17) and Indonesia (18) (Fig. 2I), and extratropical Southern Hemisphere temperatures parallel speleothem proxies of precipitation and temperature from South Africa (19) and South America (20) that are independent of our reconstruction

Their decision not to compare their reconstruction to popular hemispherical versions was a curious one and I’ve remedied this apparent oversight below.

Northern Hemisphere
First here is a comparison of the Marcott NH Extratropic reconstruction with the Moberg 2005 reconstruction (which Marcott et al showed in connection with their GLB reconstruction). I suspect that some readers will not find these two series to be “remarkably similar” (TM- climate science). (For greater certainty, Marcott et al did not say that these two series were “remarkably similar”, he said that the Moberg NH reconstruction was similar to his GLB reconstruction, but omitted any direct comparison with his NHX reconstructions.

Figure 1. Moberg NH versus Marcott et al NHX. Red dot shows 1990-2010 average HadCRU temperature. Dotted vertical black line at 1890 is period after which reconstruction already admitted to be “not robust”.

Next here is a comparison of the Marcott NHX reconstruction with two Mann reconstructions: the Mann 2008 NH EIV iHAD variation (which in effect splices temperature from 1850 on) and the MBH NHX version (extracted from Briffa et al 2001 SI). I am not persuaded that Marcott’s NHX reconstruction is “indistinguishable within uncertainty” from the corresponding NH reconstructions, making one wonder why the GLB reconstruction is are supposedly “indistinguighable within uncertainty”.

Figure 2. Marcott NHX versus M08 NH EIV iHAD and MBH98-99 NHX (from Briffa et al 2001). As Figure 1.

Southern Hemisphere
In the figure below, I’ve first compared the Marcott et al SHX reconstruction to the SH reconstruction of Mann and Jones 2003. After readers recover from their awe at the remarkable similarity (TM-climate science) between the two reconstructions, they will note that the Marcott reconstruction began a pronounced and dramatic increase in the 18th century and reached its maximum in AD1900, which, in their Northern Hemisphere reconstruction, was the coldest year since the LGM. Marcott’s estimated AD1900 temperatures in SHX were much higher than even recent temperatures (1990-2010 HadCRU SH average denoted by red dot.)

Figure 3. Marcott SHX vs Mann and Jones 2003 SH.

Finally, here is a comparison of Mann 2008 SH EIV-CRU and CPS-CRU versus Marcott. There are important inconsistencies between Mannian EIV and CPS results, improving the odds of matching at least one of them. (Why anyone would regard Mannian EIV as an “improvement” on anything is a continuing source of puzzlement to me, but that is another day’s story.) Even doubling the odds of a match, I find the correspondence between the Mannian and Marcottian version to be underwhelming, though perhaps not so underwhelming as to preclude them being “remarkably similar TM-climate science”.


I will return to details of the uptick later. For now, I’ll close with this graphic showing the NHX and SHX reconstructions against the GLB reconstruction shown as the Marcott base. While one expects a difference between NHX and SHX in the Holocene, the remarkable difference between NHX and SHX not just in the 20th century, but in the 19th century is a source of considerable interest. According to Marcott, NHX temperatures increased by 1.9 deg C between 1920 and 1940, a surprising result even for the most zealous activists. But for the rest of us, given the apparent resiliency of our species to this fantastic increase over a mere 20 years, it surely must provide a small measure of hope for resiliency in the future.

Figure ^. SHX (blue) and NHX (red) shown against global. Third zone (tropics) not shown only to emphasize contrast. Full spaghetti would include a third zone.

No Uptick in Marcott Thesis

Reader ^ drew our attention to Marcott’s thesis (see chapter 4 here. Marcott’s thesis has a series of diagrams in an identical style as the Science article. The proxy datasets are identical.

However, as Jean S alertly observed, the diagrams in the thesis lack the closing uptick of the Science. Other aspects of the modern period also differ dramatically.

Here is Figure 1C of the Science article.

figure 1C

Now here is the corresponding diagram from the thesis (Figure 4.3a):

The differences will be evident to readers. In addition to the difference in closing uptick, important reconstruction versions were at negative values in the closing portion of the thesis graphic, while they were at positive values in the closing portion of the Science graphic.

I wonder what accounts for the difference.

A similar phenomenon occurs with the simulation diagram, that has been widely distributed as Stick support. Here is a blowup of the recent portion in Sciencemag:
SI figure3 simulation blowup

Here is a corresponding blowup from the thesis.
thesis simulation blowup

Marcott Mystery #1

Marcott et al 2013 has received lots of publicity, mainly because of its supposed vindication of the Stick. A number of commenters have observed that they are unable to figure out how Marcott got the Stick portion of his graph from his data set. Add me to that group.

The uptick occurs in the final plot-point of his graphic (1940) and is a singleton. I wrote to Marcott asking him for further details of how he actually obtained the uptick, noting that the enormous 1920-to-1940 uptick is not characteristic of the underlying data. Marcott’s response was unhelpful: instead of explaining how he got the result, Marcott stated that they had “clearly” stated that the 1890-on portion of their reconstruction was “not robust”. I agree that the 20th century portion of their reconstruction is “not robust”, but do not feel that merely describing the recent portion as “not robust” does full justice to the issues. Nor does it provide an explanation.

The uptick problems are even more pronounced in the zonal temperature reconstructions (NH and SH extratropics on which I will be posting) and in the reconstructions from individual proxies (alkenone, Mg/Ca). In today’s post, I’ll illustrate the uptick problem from the alkenone temperature stack on the premise that there are fewer moving parts in the alkenone reconstruction and therefore this will facilitate diagnosis of the uptick mystery. Continue reading

More News from RC/FOIA

Tom Nelson and Bishop Hill have released the following letter from Mr FOIA. I was one of several people who received the following letter:

It’s time to tie up loose ends and dispel some of the speculation surrounding the Climategate affair.

Indeed, it’s singular “I” this time. After certain career developments I can no longer use the papal plural 😉

If this email seems slightly disjointed it’s probably my linguistic background and the problem of trying to address both the wider audience (I expect this will be partially reproduced sooner or later) and the email recipients (whom I haven’t decided yet on).

The “all.7z” password is [deracted] DO NOT PUBLISH THE PASSWORD. Quote other parts if you like.

Releasing the encrypted archive was a mere practicality. I didn’t want to keep the emails lying around.

I prepared CG1 & 2 alone. Even skimming through all 220.000 emails would have taken several more months of work in an increasingly unfavorable environment.

Dumping them all into the public domain would be the last resort. Majority of the emails are irrelevant, some of them probably sensitive and socially damaging.

To get the remaining scientifically (or otherwise) relevant emails out, I ask you to pass this on to any motivated and responsible individuals who could volunteer some time to sift through the material for eventual release.

Filtering\redacting personally sensitive emails doesn’t require special expertise.

I’m not entirely comfortable sending the password around unsolicited, but haven’t got better ideas at the moment. If you feel this makes you seemingly “complicit” in a way you don’t like, don’t take action.

I don’t expect these remaining emails to hold big surprises. Yet it’s possible that the most important pieces are among them. Nobody on the planet has held the archive in plaintext since CG2.

That’s right; no conspiracy, no paid hackers, no Big Oil. The Republicans didn’t plot this. USA politics is alien to me, neither am I from the UK. There is life outside the Anglo-american sphere.

If someone is still wondering why anyone would take these risks, or sees only a breach of privacy here, a few words…

The first glimpses I got behind the scenes did little to garner my trust in the state of climate science — on the contrary. I found myself in front of a choice that just might have a global impact.

Briefly put, when I had to balance the interests of my own safety, privacy\career of a few scientists, and the well-being of billions of people living in the coming several decades, the first two weren’t the decisive concern.

It was me or nobody, now or never. Combination of several rather improbable prerequisites just wouldn’t occur again for anyone else in the foreseeable future. The circus was about to arrive in Copenhagen. Later on it could be too late.

Most would agree that climate science has already directed where humanity puts its capability, innovation, mental and material “might”. The scale will grow ever grander in the coming decades if things go according to script. We’re dealing with $trillions and potentially drastic influence on practically everyone.

Wealth of the surrounding society tends to draw the major brushstrokes of a newborn’s future life. It makes a huge difference whether humanity uses its assets to achieve progress, or whether it strives to stop and reverse it, essentially sacrificing the less fortunate to the climate gods.

We can’t pour trillions in this massive hole-digging-and-filling-up endeavor and pretend it’s not away from something and someone else.

If the economy of a region, a country, a city, etc. deteriorates, what happens among the poorest? Does that usually improve their prospects? No, they will take the hardest hit. No amount of magical climate thinking can turn this one upside-down.

It’s easy for many of us in the western world to accept a tiny green inconvenience and then wallow in that righteous feeling, surrounded by our “clean” technology and energy that is only slightly more expensive if adequately subsidized.

Those millions and billions already struggling with malnutrition, sickness, violence, illiteracy, etc. don’t have that luxury. The price of “climate protection” with its cumulative and collateral effects is bound to destroy and debilitate in great numbers, for decades and generations.

Conversely, a “game-changer” could have a beneficial effect encompassing a similar scope.

If I had a chance to accomplish even a fraction of that, I’d have to try. I couldn’t morally afford inaction. Even if I risked everything, would never get personal compensation, and could probably never talk about it with anyone.

I took what I deemed the most defensible course of action, and would do it again (although with slight alterations — trying to publish something truthful on RealClimate was clearly too grandiose of a plan ;-).

Even if I have it all wrong and these scientists had some good reason to mislead us (instead of making a strong case with real data) I think disseminating the truth is still the safest bet by far.

Big thanks to Steve and Anthony and many others. My contribution would never have happened without your work (whether or not you agree with the views stated).

Oh, one more thing. I was surprised to learn from a “progressive” blog, corroborated by a renowned “scientist”, that the releases were part of a coordinated campaign receiving vast amounts of secret funding from shady energy industry groups.

I wasn’t aware of the arrangement but warmly welcome their decision to support my project. For that end I opened a bitcoin address: [redacted for now].

More seriously speaking, I accept, with gratitude, modest donations to support The (other) Cause. The address can also serve as a digital signature to ward off those identity thefts, which are part of climate scientists’ repertoire of tricks these days.

Keep on the good work. I won’t be able to use this email address for long so if you reply, I can’t guarantee reading or answering. I will several batches, to anyone I can think of.

Over and out.


An Interesting Graphic in the Esper et al 2012 SI

Rob Wilson (by email) has drawn my attention to the SI to Esper et al 2012 SI, which contains the following diagram relevant to late Holocene treeline changes.

esper 2012 SI treeline
Figure 1. From Esper et al 2012 SI. Continue reading

Mike’s AGU Trick

There has been considerable recent discussion of the fact that observations have been running cooler than models – see, for example, Lucia’s discussion of IPCC AR5 SOD Figure 9.8 (see here). However, Michael Mann at AGU took an entirely different line. Mann asserted that observations were running as hot or hotter than models. Mann’s assertion was taken even further by Naomi Oreskes, who asserted that climate models were under-estimating relative to observations. Oreskes squarely placed the blame for the supposed underestimates on climate skeptics.

In today’s post, I’ll look closely at the illustration in Mann’s AGU presentation, an illustration that gave an entirely different impression than the figure in the IPCC draft report. The reason for the difference can be traced to what I’ve termed here as “Mike’s AGU Trick”. Continue reading

More on Acton’s “Investigation”

More news on Acton’s supposed “investigation” of the deletion of emails. New documents show that Acton did not even meet with Briffa or Jones in his supposed “investigation” of the deletion of emails. Acton sent Briffa a letter asking him whether he had “knowingly” deleted emails subject to FOI. Briffa wrote back that he hadn’t. That appears to be the entire extent of Acton’s “investigation”. Sort of like Penn State.

Also see Bishop Hill on this story here.
Continue reading

Acton and “Natural Person Powers”

In its refusal of David Holland’s FOI request for Muir Russell documents, the UEA has argued that it did not have a contract with Muir Russell; instead, Muir Russell was a “public appointment”. I did a blog post two years ago in which I raised questions about the veracity of UEA’s answer. The issue is at stake in David Holland’s tribunal hearing today. I have a few more thoughts on whether the UEA’s powers entitle it to make “public appointments”. Related to this is whether the UEA Vice Chancellor can unilaterally make “public appointments”.

The UEA refused Holland’s FOI 10-144 as follows:

The University does not consider that there was a contractual relationship with Sir Muir Russell or the inquiry team; it was by way of a public appointment (as is commonplace in these circumstances).

In its internal appeal, the UEA re-iterated this assertion, as it did in its refusal of Holland’s related 11-022. In its submission to the ICO in the appeal, the UEA maintained its claim that there was “no contractual relationship”.

Let’s step back for a moment and ponder precisely how (and whether) the UEA is empowered to make “public appointments”. In my earlier post, I reviewed some of the policies governing UK public appointments, but did not examine the charter of the UEA and the office of the Vice Chancellor, which I’ll do today.

Let’s start with a simple case. The Global Warming Policy Foundation contracted with Andrew Montford to write a report on the Climategate inquiries a couple of years ago. No one would argue that the Global Warming Policy Foundation had made a “public appointment” of Andrew Montford. The Global Warming Policy Foundation, for obvious reasons, has not chartered to make “public appointments”, though, like any other organization, it has the right to enter into contracts, as it did with Andrew Montford.

The question then is: how, in law, does the Vice Chancellor of the UEA have a right to make “public appointments” that is not possessed by, say, Benny Peiser of the GWPF?

The logical place to look is in the charter of the University of East Anglia. But the charter merely says that UEA has the powers of a “natural person”, “including but not limited to” various itemized powers, including the right to enter into contracts and the right to do things “necessary or convenient” to the furtherance of its objectives:

4. Powers of the University
4.1 Subject to the provisions of the Charter and Statutes, and in the furtherance of its objects, the University shall have all the powers of a natural person including, but not limited to, the power:

4.1.7 In relation to the transaction of University business:… to enter into contracts;

4.1.9 to do anything else necessary or convenient, whether incidental to these powers or not, in order to further the objects of the University as a place of education, learning and research.

This last item (4.1.9) does not, as I read it, confer powers that are additional to the “natural person powers” conferred in section 4.1, but itemizes one of the powers of a “natural person”.

The term “natural person powers” has legal meaning. “Natural persons” are entitled to do a variety of things under common law, but they are not entitled to make “public appointments”. Only the Crown can make public appointments. Indeed, when one looks carefully at the list of public appointments covered in the UK Code of Practice for Public Appointments, the public appointments pertain to departments of the Crown. The “remit” of the Commissioner for Public Appointments specifies appointments made by “Ministers” of the Crown:

The Commissioner for Public Appointments regulates the processes by which Ministers (including Welsh Ministers) make appointments to the boards of certain public bodies and certain statutory offices in England and Wales.

The University of East Anglia is not a department of the Crown. It has been endowed by its charter only with the powers of a “natural person”; nowhere in its charter is it empowered to make “public appointments”. The Vice Chancellor of the University of East Anglia, regardless of his self-conceit, is not a Minister of the Crown and is not entitled to make “public appointments”. The UEA claim to the contrary is yet another fabrication.

And even if the University of East Anglia were empowered to make “public appointments” (which seems very dubious), could the Vice Chancellor personally make a “public appointment” without submitting the “public appointment” to the Council of the University? Seems highly implausible to me.

It seems incontrovertible to me that Vice Chancellor Acton is not empowered to make “public appointments”. And that UEA merely contracted with Muir Russell and the various members of the panel.

Arguments would still remain, but arguments based on the premise that Acton’s actions of 2-3 December 2009 constituted a “public appointment” process should be rejected by the Tribunal.

Acton and Muir Russell at Tribunal

Tomorrow (15 January 2013), the Information Tribunal will hear David Holland’s appeal of the ICO decision (FER0387012 ) regarding the connection of the Muir Russell Review and UEA in respect to FOI legislation (see FOI correspondence here.) Both Muir Russell and UEA Vice Chancellor Acton are scheduled to appear.

The hearing is at Court Room 7, Field House, 15 Breams Building, London EC4A 1DZ and commences at 10:30. Acton is scheduled for 11-12:30. Muir Russell is scheduled for 1:30-3:00. Also scheduled to attend on behalf of UEA are Brian Summers and Jonathan Colam-French plus three attorneys from Mills and Reeves. Muir Russell is also anticipated to have his own counsel present. David Holland is representing himself.

David will have an extremely difficult time pinning down either Acton or Russell. The transcripts of the Science and Technology Committee show that both are prone to give lengthy and unresponsive answers, thereby running out the clock.

For example, Muir Russell was asked how they chose the three examples of peer review – which barely scratched the surface of the peer review controversy and included an incident with the editor of Energy and Environment that was not of the faintest interest in the major climate blogs or commentary. Muir Russell falsely said that the three incidents were “at the top of the head” when the story broke and then ran the clock with diversionary puff about Richard Horton.

Q104 Pamela Nash: This question is to Sir Muir. In your review you found no evidence to support that there was any subversion of the peer review process and you examined three specific instances. Could you tell us why those three instances were chosen?

Sir Muir Russell: They were the three that had been at the top of the head, as it were, in the comments that were made when the whole story broke. I keep going back to what I said to Mr Williams. They were the things which we thought, as we were looking at the issues, were solid and good examples to pick and to test the accusations that had been made. I know there are comments that say, “You could have found more. There could have been others.” They weren’t in the forefront at the time. If you look at the footnote in Montford, I think it is, about one of them, it says that it wasn’t actually clear what the allegation was, so one has to be balanced. We couldn’t do everything but we looked at three very solid accusations.

The Soon and Baliunas was one that came up all the time and we looked at that fairly thoroughly.

The editor of Energy and Environment had sent a lot of emails to me about what we would do. So it was important to check out that position.

Then there was the Cook stuff and there is quite an extensive explanation of what was actually going on there. I think you will find three quite detailed explanations based on information that we got about what was actually happening.

Then, of course, we did the important thing of getting Richard Horton to work on peer review for us. You will see from the record of the predecessor Committee that one of the things that had happened that was, let’s say, uncomfortable, because I was quite uncomfortable sitting here when being asked about it, was that Dr Campbell of Nature had to leave the group because he had been interviewed and had said there was nothing wrong with what CRU had done. That was a prejudicial thing about the inquiry. It had nothing to do with his views about climate science. It was prejudicial about the inquiry, and he very properly said, “I have to leave.” So we brought in Richard Horton, not as a full member in the sense of being on the team and looking at all the work that we had done, because it would have been very difficult to catch up on that, but we brought him in to give us advice on peer review. We peer reviewed that because we got Liz Wager of COPE to have a look at that as well. You will see all that in the report. So I think that setting that set of judgments against the facts of the cases as we found them was really quite a good and balanced way of getting a serious big picture about what these people had been doing in relation to peer review and also peer review more generally so there are specific answers and there are some general points to go forward with on peer review. I put my hand up and say, yes, there could well have been other cases that we might have looked at, but these were the ones that everybody seemed to think were at the top of their heads at the

Another kind of problem will be how to handle totally unresponsive answers, the unresponsiveness of which is clear in transcripts, but, unless you are a litigation lawyer, hard to pick up at the time. Consider the following from Acton to Stringer:

Q96 Graham Stringer: And you recorded those meetings with Professor Jones and his team?

Acton’s answer was completely unresponsive:

Professor Edward Acton: If you examine our website you will find that these statements have been there for some time.

A recent FOI from David Holland has revealed that the UEA claims not to have a copy of the full statements from Briffa or Jones given to Acton nor any information on whether the supposed statements were signed nor even information on the date of the supposed statements.

It will also be very hard for David to pin Acton down when he makes statements that cannot be corroborated and sometimes seem to come out of thin air. For example, Acton told the following to the Science and Technology Committee:

Can those e-mails be produced? Yes, they can. Did those who might have deleted them say they deleted them? No. They say they did not. I wanted to be absolutely sure of those two, and I have established that to my satisfaction.

However, at the time, the key emails from Wahl to Briffa could not produced.

David’s task tomorrow will be very difficult, but he’s done a remarkable job thus far against UEA obstruction and I wish him well tomorrow.

The actual issue of the relationship between the Russell review and the UEA is an interesting one.