IPCC Check Kites Gergis

A few days ago, WUWT pointed out that the American Meteorological Society webpage showed that the Gergis et al paper had been officially “withdrawn”. However, readers should know better than to presume that this would have any effect on IPCC use of the reconstruction.

The withdrawal of the Gergis article hasn’t had the slightest impact on IPCC usage of the Gergis reconstruction, which continues to be used in the recently released AR5 Second Order Draft, thanks to academic check kiting reminiscent of Ammann and Wahl. Tim Osborn of CRU is a Lead Author of the AR5 chapter (as he was in AR4) and would be familiar with the technique from AR4.

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Two Blogs on Climate Sensitivity

Two interesting blog posts on climate sensitivity. Troy CA here and Paul_K at Lucia’s here. I haven’t parsed either post, but both are by thoughtful commenters and deserve a read.

AGU Webinar on Michael Mann

An Inside Look at the Michael Mann Case
Featuring Peter Fontaine, counsel to Michael Mann and a leader of Cozen O’Connor’s Brownfield Development and Climate Change practices

To join the meeting:

• Please login as a guest with your first and last name. The meeting does not require a password. The meeting hosts will authorize you to enter the meeting.
• We recommend you use the audio on your computer. You will be able to hear the presentation and ask questions via a chat box.

A Belated SI for D’Arrigo et al 2006

The other day, I noticed that the long dormant WDCP supplementary information (and here) for D’Arrigo et al 2006, of which Rob Wilson is a coauthor, had been updated on April 30, 2012. In 2005, D’Arrigo et al (then under review at JGR) had been cited by IPCC AR4. At the time, as an IPCC reviewer, I attempted to obtain both very rudimentary information about the sites used and unarchived measurement data from the authors, from the IPCC and from the journal (JGR, which was theoretically subject to AGU policies requiring data archiving.) My efforts were totally rebuffed. I was even threatened with expulsion as an IPCC reviewer for asking for data. I tried again in October 2009 and was once again rebuffed. So what accounted for this belated update nearly seven years later? The backstory proved interesting. The new SI is an improvement but still unsatisfactory and, unfortunately, contained errors on the long contentious Polar Urals data set. Continue reading

“Forensic Bioinformatics”

Pielke Jr has sent me the following two links on the longstanding dispute between Baggerly and Coombes, two biostatisticians, against a team of cancer researchers at Duke University, led by young star Dr Potti. See CBS News here and a Baggerly 2010 lecture here.

Baggerly and Coombes had attempted to replicate a leading paper; their efforts have ultimately led to retraction of the papers. But the decisive step in the retraction did not arise from proper operation of the peer review system or university investigations, but through something entirely fortuitous. Continue reading

Lewandowsky and “Hide the Decline”

Ethics bait-and-switcher Stephan Lewandowsky and his sidekick, Klaus Oberauer, have added hide the decline to their repertoire at the University of Western Australia blog.

As CA readers are well aware, the Briffa et al 2001 reconstruction, based on 387 tree ring density chronologies, goes down in the latter part of the 20th century – clearly contradicting the Mann reconstruction. The inconsistency between the two reconstructions ought to have troubled anyone with an actual scientific interest in the validity of these reconstructions. However, in order not to “dilute the message” in IPCC TAR, climate scientists chose to “hide the decline”, by simply deleting adverse data that went down. “Hiding the Decline” is the title of Andrew Montford’s forthcoming book.

Lewandowsky appears to be yet another person who has been “tricked” (TM – climate science) by IPCC and others hiding the decline in the Briffa reconstruction. In his post on replication, Lewandowsky claimed that the Briffa et al 2001 decline not only did not contradict the Mann hockey stick, but replicated it:

Replicable effects such as the conjunction fallacy are obviously not confined to cognitive science. In climate science, for example, the iconic “hockey stick” which shows that the current increase in global temperatures is unprecedented during the past several centuries if not millennia, has been replicated numerous times since Mann et al. published their seminal paper in 1998. (Briffa et al., 2001; Briffa et al., 2004; Cook et al. 2004; D’Arrigo et al., 2006; Esper et al., 2002; Hegerl et al., 2006; Huang et al., 2000; Juckes et al., 2007; Kaufman et al., 2009 ; Ljungqvist, 2010; Moberg et al., 2005; Oerlemans, 2005 ; Pollack & Smerdon, 2004; Rutherford et al., 2005; Smith et al., 2006).

One of the fundamental properties of proxy series is whether they go up or down in the 20th century – a seemingly elementary phenomenon that we reflected on in connection with Mann and upside-down Tiljander here, where a reader linked to an amusing video in which the protagonists didn’t care whether data went up or down, a video that seems apt for Lewandowsky as well:

Aside from satire, surely the reconstruction between the Briffa reconstruction and the Mann reconstruction ought to be more worrying to anyone actually interested in proxy reconstructions. Both the Mann reconstruction and the Briffa reconstruction used very large networks of tree ring data: explaining why one series went up while the other went down ought to have been a priority for specialists. (The “consensus” explanation by the Hockey Team is simply incorrect and all-too-typical armwaving. They claim that the Briffa reconstruction, unlike the others, is from a small geographically unrepresentative subset. In fact, the Briffa reconstruction is from a very large network of 387 sites, while the other reconstructions cited above are from small (5-18 site) networks, in which bristlecones and/or Yamal are important components. The Mann reconstruction, like Briffa, is from a large network, but its methodology results in very high weighting to the bristlecones.)

The idea that present temperatures are “unprecedented during the past several centuries” was definitely not original to the Mann hockey stick, as this view dated back to at least Hubert Lamb and could be said to be a consensus view.

Nor does the “replication” claimed by Lewandowsky necessarily impress all specialists. Esper et al 2012 (with coauthors Zorita, Wilson and Timonen) recently criticized Lewandowsky’s prefered reconstructions in terms reminiscent of Climate Audit, as follows:

The missing millennial scale trends in existing TRW records as well as the increased cooling trend after removal of this proxy type from the Arctic-wide estimates both suggest that the widely cited hemispheric reconstructions underestimate pre-instrumental temperatures to some extent. This hypothesis seems to be important as most of the annually resolved, large-scale records are solely composed of or dominated (on longer timescales) by TRW data, and their spatial domain encompasses the Northern Hemisphere extratropics including northern boreal and Arctic environments. Inclusion of tree-ring data that lack millennial scale cooling trends, as revealed here (Fig. 3 and Supplementary Fig. S1), thus probably causes an underestimation of historic temperatures.

D’Arrigo et al 2006, one of the supposed confirmations of the Stick, spoke against the ability to draw conclusions of the medieval relative to modern period as follows:

we stress that presently available paleoclimatic reconstructions are inadequate for making specific inferences, at hemispheric scales, about MWP warmth relative to the present anthropogenic period and that such comparisons can only still be made at the local/regional scale

Social Priming
Lewandowsky, who has written in the past on “social priming”, noted in his post that Kahneman had recently slagged social priming theories (a development covered at CA here.) Lewandowky’s post cited the following classic example of social priming:

For example, it has been reported that people walk out of the lab more slowly after being primed with words that relate to the concept “old age” (Bargh et al., 1996)

As partial support for the concept of “social priming”, it seems to me that there is a statistically significant increase in the incidence of drivel in writings by activists after being primed with words that relate to “climate skeptics”. This hypothesis will be more difficult to test among authors where the incidence of drivel is already high, even without social priming.

The Lewandowsky Ethics Switch

Lewandowsky had to obtain approval for his survey from the UWA Ethics Committee. Simon Turnill has just received remarkable information on this process through FOI, described in an excellent post here. Documents here.

The information showed that Lewandowsky used bait-and-switch. Lewandowsky had obtained approval for a project entitled “Understanding Statistical Trends”. The original proposal had nothing to do with his bizarre online conspiracy theory. Lewandowsky switched the proposal in August 2010.

In addition to Simon’s points, note that Lewandowsky stated the following in his ethics proposal:

Because I am interested in soliciting opinions also from those folks, I would like to withhold my name from the survey as I fear it might contaminate responding”

Nonetheless, Lewandowsky’s name was prominently displayed at some of the anti-skeptic blogs. Lewandowsky’s fears that the survey would be contaminated seem to have been justified.

Coming Soon: “Hiding the Decline”

Andrew Montford announced a forthcoming sequel entitled: Hiding the Decline – A History of the Climategate Affair.

The Afterlife of IPCC 1990 Figure 7.1

At Lewandowsky’s blog here, conspiracy theorist John Mashey has challenged Deming’s “get rid of the MWP” recollection claiming that:

Nobody in 1995 would have been worried about “getting rid of the MWP,” although they might have wanted to dispel the idea the Lamb schematic was Truth. They had years before abandoned the schematic… Anyone citing this schematic as credible any time after 1992 might be likened to a flat-earther clinging to Anaximander.

Although the climate community now pretends that the IPCC 1990 graphic never existed or was a one-off, variants of this graphic continued in use by leading climatologists through 1996, because, as Crowley complained in a Climategate email, “there was no alternative”. This doesn’t prove that Deming’s recollection is valid, only that Mashey’s argument that “nobody in 1995 would have been worried about “getting rid of the MWP” is without support.

In today’s post, I’ll review two of the most relevant contemporary publications by the UC Global Research Information Office – a 1991 article by Bradley and Jack Eddy, an older contemporary, and a 1996 article by Tom Crowley, both using variants of the IPCC 1990 graphic. I’ll also review interesting 2007 Climategate correspondence in which Bradley and Crowley reflect back on these articles.

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Update on the FOI for the Wahl Attachments

On Sep 27, the UEA carried out a wildcard search of the entire CRUBACK3 server for the Wahl Attachments, reporting on Sep 28 that the search had been unsuccessful. (See here for most recent previous status report). They refused to provide some requested crosschecking information e.g. whether the emails to which the Wahl Attachments were attached were themselves on the CRUBACKCK3 server and whether there were backups prior to August 2, 2009 (the earliest identified Briffa backup date) for other CRU employees e.g. Jones, Osborn. I need to revert to the Information Tribunal today and have been working on this file over the weekend. Continue reading