Balascio et al and the Baffin Island Inconsistency

There was some publicity this week on a paper by Young et al (Science Advances, 2015), which, according to Gifford Miller , whose work has been frequently discussed at CA (see  tag), had supposedly put the “coup de grace on the Medieval Warm Period”, that had been so long wished for by the Team.   I will discuss (and dissect) this article in a forthcoming post, but first wish to report on some related developments in an article (Balascio et al, Climate of the Past, 2015) which I had discussed last summer while it was in open review, which I will subsequently connect to the discussion of Young et al. Continue reading

What “Science” is “Telling Us” About Climate Damages to Canada

Just before leaving for Paris, the Canadian government, like many others,  stated that “science” was “telling us” that climate change was “one of the greatest threats of our time”.

The scientific evidence is clear: climate change is one of the greatest threats of our time. The Government of Canada recognizes that global temperature increases must be limited to at most two degrees Celsius, and Canada’s way forward on climate change is being informed by what the science is telling us.

The Canadian government posted up a briefing by “renowned climate scientists Dr. Gregory Flato (Environment Canada) and Mr. Alain Bourque (Ouranos)” to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Cabinet Ministers, and provincial and territorial Premiers – see here.

I was particularly interested in their argument on how the “threat” to Canada manifested itself.  How exactly does “science” show that a modest increase of temperature would severely damage Canada?

Too often, expositions of supposed climate damage amount to little more than loud assertions that the science is settled, with occasional interjections of “Look, polar bear!!” (to modify a phrase from And Then There’s Physics). The Flato and Bourque presentation is in this tradition. Its exposition of damages consists of only a few slides accompanied by very short explanatory text.

In today’s post, I will parse the first such slide and will try to parse other slides in future posts.

Continue reading

Antarctic Ice Mass Controversies

Like many others, I was interested in the recent controversy arising from findings of Zwally et al 2015 that there had been ice mass gain gain of ~112±61 Gt/year over 1992-2001 and ~82±25 Gt/year over 2003-2008.  Zwally’s findings obviously contradict a widely held contrary belief, expressed, for example, in IPCC AR5’s assertion there was “high confidence” that the Antarctic Ice Sheet had been losing mass for the prior two decades and that the rate of loss had “likely increased” to ~147±75 GT/year over 2002-2011 or in NASA’s widely cited statement that “the continent of Antarctica has been losing about 134 billion metric tons of ice per year since 2002”.

I had no prior interest in the literature, but was intrigued by the dramatic contrast between Zwally and IPCC on such a widely covered topic.  This quickly led into a voluminous technical literature, which is the subject of today’s post.   The issues were not only about interpretation of satellite data, but quickly led into thorny interpretations of the history of the entire Holocene.

Warning: the following post is very lengthy, but I think that the details are worth paying attention to.

Continue reading

Shukla’s Gold

shukla millionRoger Pielke Jr recently made the remarkable discovery that, in addition to his university salary from George Mason University (reported by Pielke as $250,000), Jagadish Shukla, the leader of the #RICO20, together with his wife, had received a further $500,000 more in 2014 alone from federal climate grants funnelled through a Shukla-controlled “non-profit” (Institute for Global Environment and Security, Inc.), yielding total income in 2014 of approximately $750,000.

Actually, the numbers are even worse than Pielke thought.

  • Pielke had quoted Shukla’s 2013 university salary, but his university salary had increased more than 25% between 2013 and 2014: from $250,816 in 2013 to $314,000 in 2014.
  • In addition, the “non-profit” organization had also employed one of Shukla’s children (not reported, but say $90,000); and,
  • IGES transferred $100,000 from its climate grants to a second corporation controlled by the Shukla family (the Institute for Global Education Equality of Opportunity and Prosperity, Inc.), which in turn transferred $100,000 to an educational charity in Shukla’s home town in India, doubtless a worthy charity, but one that Shukla could have supported from his own already generous stipend.

Over a million dollars in total in 2014 alone.

In addition, Shukla’s long-time associate, James Kinter, participated in the same double dip, though on a less grandiose scale. Kinter, also a Professor at George Mason, doubled his 2014 university salary of $180,038 with $171,320 from IGES, for a total 2014 income of $351,358.

In today’s post, I’ll make an attempt to follow the money.  This analysis is not an audit as I obviously do not have access to original documents – only public information and, for the purposes of this note, only online research.  In addition, the history is quite complicated,as the institutions reach back over 30 years and have changed relationships over time.  I’ve examined NSF, NOAA and NASA online grant information, which covers only part of the period (NOAA to 2001; NASA to 2006) and placed a summary spreadsheet online here.

Because “warmists” regularly re-assure skeptics that income from research is strictly regulated under federal policies (e,g. Andrew Dessler here), the parties who ought to have the most interest in the structure are warmists, rather than skeptics, though the opposite seems to be the case thus far.

NSF Policy

Before discussing Shukla’s structure, I’ll first quickly comment on institutional policies, as both the federal agencies (NSF, NOAA, NASA) and the university (George Mason) purport to have policies that prevent double-dipping.

NSF policies purportedly regulate research compensation for members of university faculties by limiting their compensation in the academic year to their university salary, while permitting them to top up their university salary in summer months, but set their compensation at the monthly rate of their university salary (the “two-ninths rule”, as follows:

 611.1 Salaries and Wages

  1. All Grantees. All remuneration paid currently or accrued by the organization for employees working on the NSF-supported project during the grant period is allowable to the extent that:
    1. total compensation to individual employees is reasonable for the work performed and conforms to the established policy of the organization consistently applied to both government and non-government activities; and
    2. the charges for work performed directly under NSF grants and for other work allocable as indirect costs are determined and documented as provided in the applicable Federal cost principles.
  2. Colleges and Universities. Section J.10 of OMB Circular A-21 establishes criteria for compensation work performed on government projects by faculty members during and outside the academic year.

NSF’s policy is:

  1. Academic Year Salaries. To be based on the individual faculty member’s regular compensation for the continuous period which, under the policy of the institution concerned, constitutes the basis of his/her salary. Except as provided in GPM 616.2, “Intra-University Consulting,” charges to Federal grants, irrespective of the basis of computation, will not exceed the proportionate share of the base salary for that period.
  2. Periods Outside the Academic Year. During the summer months or other periods not included in the period for which the base salary is paid, salary is to be paid at a monthly rate not in excess of the base salary divided by the number of months in the period for which the base salary is paid. NSF policy on funding of summer salaries (known as NSF’s two-ninths rule) remains unchanged: proposal budgets submitted should not request, and NSF-approved budgets will not include, funding for an individual investigator which exceeds two-ninths of the academic year salary. This limit includes summer salary received from all NSF-funded grants.

Andrew Dessler, who, like most climate academics, has consistently denied that research funding has any impact on alarmism, summarized the above policy as follows:

Texas A&M pays 10 months of my salary to teach. The other two months of my salary are paid out of grants for doing research, but the University sets the amount I receive during those two months equal to the m$158.06onthly rate that the University pays me the other 10 months. Thus, the vast majority of my salary is completely disconnected with research.

There are many other obligations on recipients of federal research grants, many of which are summarized in the NSF Grants Manual.

George Mason University Policy

Shukla has been on the faculty of George Mason University since 1993 (1984-1992 University of Maryland) and, during that time, has obtained federal grants both in the name of George Mason University and the Institute for Global Environment and Security Inc. discussed below).

George Mason, like  most universities, has a policy on conflict of interest,  including a detailed policy on conflict of interest in federally funded research.   Under such policies, “non-profits” are classified as “business”, a protocol that seems very apt when large salaries are withdrawn by insiders from a closely-held “non-profit”:

“Business” means a corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, firm, enterprise, franchise, association, trust or foundation, or any other individual or entity carrying on a business or profession, whether or not for profit.

The University conflict of interest policies require comprehensive and formal disclosure of personal and family financial interests to the Office of Sponsored Programs.

This policy applies to any person who is responsible for the design, conduct, or reporting of any research funded by a Federal agency.  The responsible parties listed in this policy act as institutional officials for purposes of policy implementation, enforcement, and reporting.

Financial Conflict of interest” (FCOI) means a significant financial interest (SFI) directly and significantly affecting the design, conduct, or reporting of the federally funded research.

“Significant financial interest” means a financial interest consisting of one or more of the following interests of the investigator (and/or those of the investigator’s spouse and dependent children) that reasonably appears to be related to the investigator’s institutional responsibilities:

Investigators who apply for any federally funded research must disclose certain financial interests related to that research.  Specifically, each investigator must provide a list of his or her known SFIs (and those of his or her spouse and/or dependent children) related to the investigator’s institutional responsibilities.

As a part of the university’s application for federal funds, each investigator must certify (1) that he or she has no such interests or (2) that he or she has such interests and has disclosed them through the institution’s disclosure process.  The Office of Sponsored Programs maintains custody of the investigator’s certification.

 I have not attempted to make a comprehensive summary of obligations under George Mason University policy.

University of Maryland

Shukla worked at the University of Maryland from 1984-1992 as Professor, Department of Meteorology.  While at the University of Maryland,  Shukla established the “Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Interactions”  (University of Maryland, Dept. of Meteorology).

Nearly all of Shukla’s key associates at George Mason date back to the University of Maryland in the 1980s.  Edwin Schneider was a Research Scientist at the “Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Interactions, University of Maryland, Dept. of Meteorology” from 1984-1993,   James Kinter was Assistant Professor, Department of Meteorology, University of Maryland from 1984-87, subsequently becoming Research Scientist with “COLA, Univ. MD, College Park, MD” from 1987-1993. Daniel Straus was a Research Scientist at the “Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Interactions, University of Maryland, Dept. of Meteorology” from 1988-1993.  Paul Dirmeyer was a Graduate Fellow and Graduate Research Assistant at University of Maryland from 1986-92 before becoming a Research Scientist at “Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Interactions, Department of Meteorology, University of Maryland at College Park” in 1993.

NOAA and NASA online grant information does not go back that far (NOAA only to 2001; NASA only to 2007), but NSF grant data shows two almost simultaneous grants to the University of Maryland entitled “Predictability of Monthly and Seasonal Average Circulation of the Atmosphere”, totalling $2.9 million.  Shukla is PI for both grants, but there are different NSF officers for some reason.

Shukla and associates (with Schneider also appearing as PI) received a new round of NSF grants in 1991, again in the name of the University of Maryland.

Institute for Global Environment and Security, Inc. (IGES)

In 1992, Shukla, Kinter and Schneider, while still presumably employees of the University of Maryland, appear to have submitted a proposal to NSF for funding via a private Maryland non-profit corporation, then recently incorporated by Shukla (the Institute for Global Environment and Security, Inc.), as, on January 6, 1993, NSF awarded three grants to IGES totalling $1.7 million, with Shukla, Kinter and Schneider all acting as PIs or co-PIs.  Shukla named himself President.  The present outside directors are an artist (Nora Rosenbaum) and a photographic artist (Patricia Peck) – both of whom were related to Jule Charney –  and long-time friend of Shukla’s from Brazil (Antonio Moura).

With the funding, Shukla established the “Center of Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies” as a unit of the Institute for Global Environment and Security, Inc.  Kinter, Schneider, Straus and Dirmeyer all moved from the University of Maryland in 1993 to join the new enterprise.

In 1994, Shukla was appointed as Professor of Earth Sciences and Global Change at George Mason University.  Most of his COLA associates would subsequently obtain appointments, but, in the mid-1990s, Shukla appears to have been the only one. In 1994, IGES obtained its first five-year block grant ( a joint grant from NSF, NOAA and NASA) in the amount of $2.25 million/year for 1994-1998.  Over the years, IGES obtained increasingly larger five-year block grants in 1999, 2004 and 2009. IGES appears to have obtained additional special grants from time to time.

Concurrent with awards to IGES, Shukla also obtained NSF grants in the name of George Mason, sometimes with identical titles.  The first such award to George Mason came in 1995 with an award from NSF (Jay Fein once again, PI – Shukla) of $1.1 million entitled “Predictability of Short Term Climate Variations” – a very similar title to the IGES grant.

In the 1999 funding cycle, NSF awarded funds under the title “Predictability and Variability of the Present Climate” to both IGES and George Mason ($4.7 million and $1.25 million, respectively).  It is unclear from this limited record what the respective responsibilities of each institution were: whether the funds were all used for the ongoing research at the Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies (IGES) or whether there was a separate program at George Mason at the time.

Over time, the base block funding increased: from $2.25 million/year in 1994-98 to $2.75 million/year in 1999-2004, $3.25 million in 2004-2009 and $3,6 million/year in 2009-2014.  In addition to block funds, IGES also received special funds.  Total funding to IGES appears to be at least $75 million: online grant archives at NSF and NOAA show a total of over $28 million and $22 million respectively, but NOAA information is unavailable prior to 2001 and NASA does not provide information on amounts (or at least I have not located it).

Concurrently, George Mason University received at least $17.5 million (the total shown in the online NSF and NOAA archives).

IGES has filed 990 forms over the years, as first brought to light by Roger Pielke Jr.  and is online here as follows: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2001-2010.

Migration to George Mason

Over the years, functions and personnel of COLA (IGES) have migrated to George Mason, intensifying in recent years. The most recent grants to IGES Inc. appear to have been made in 2009-2010, though funding under these grants seems to have continued until 2014-2015. In recent years, George Mason University has made a number of announcements on the transiation of COLA (IGES) to George Mason, but the precise terms of each agreement are hard to figure out from the public record available thus far.

In 2002 (eight years after Shukla), Kinter, Schneider and Straus were all appointed to the staff of the Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Sciences department, George Mason University in 2002, coinciding with expansion of their climate program. All three continued their employment with IGES (COLA), where Kinter became Director in 2004.

George Mason’s webpage includes a lengthy list of university centers and institutions and, by January 2012 (the earliest web archived version), the Center for Land-Ocean-Atmosphere Studies was  included in the list (January 2012).

On May 10, 2013, George Mason University announced that IGES and COLA(IGES), organizations with “long-standing partnerships” with the University, were “joining” the University and would be “located within” the College of Science:

The Institute of Global Environment and Society (IGES) and the Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies (COLA), independent nonprofit research entities established in Maryland with long-standing partnerships with George Mason University, are joining Mason’s College of Science. An event celebrating these new groups will take place at 2 p.m. Monday, May 13, in Mason Hall, Rooms D3A and B.

IGES was established in Maryland in 1993 as a nonprofit to improve understanding and prediction of the variations of the Earth’s climate through scientific research on climate variability and climate predictability, and to share both the results of this research and the tools necessary to carry out this research with society as a whole.

As part of IGES, the world-renowned Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere-Studies (COLA) will also be at Mason. COLA is dedicated to understanding climate fluctuations on short- and long-term scales, with special emphasis on the interactions between Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, and land surfaces.

The institute and center will be initially located within the College of Science. All IGES and COLA staff supported by research grants will move from Maryland to Mason, and the staff will teach and conduct their ongoing research projects at Mason.

For the past 20 years, the National Science Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and National Aeronautics and Space Administration have supported IGES and COLA research with an annual funding of about $4 million.

Once again, the university’s list of its centers in July 2013 includes the Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies.

A year later (May 3, 2014), the University announced that Kinter and associates had been awarded $10.5 million from the NSF-NOAA-NASA group for continuation of the COLA work, now titled “Predictability and Prediction of Climate from Days to Decades.”:

Kinter and his team were awarded $4.5 million by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, $2.5 million by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, and $3.5 million by the National Science Foundation to work on a five-year project called “Predictability and Prediction of Climate from Days to Decades.”

Kinter leads the Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies based at George Mason University.

The NSF grants archive shows a grant (1338427) bearing this title in the amount of $4.2 million with start date of Jan 1, 2014 in the name of George Mason University, while the NOAA grant archive shows a grant  (NA04OAR4310160) of $1.8 million with start date of January 2014 also in the name of George Mason, while I have been unable thus far to locate the corresponding grant in the NASA archive.

Shukla Compensation

Despite the various changes in grant structure, one constant (or rather steadily increasing amount) has been the several sources of compensation to Shukla and his wife.

In 2001, the earliest year thus far publicly available, in 2001, in addition to his university salary (not yet available, but presumably about $125,000), Shukla and his wife received a further $214,496  in compensation from IGES (Shukla -$128,796; Anne Shukla – $85,700).  Their combined compensation from IGES doubled over the next two years to approximately $400,000 (additional to Shukla’s university salary of say $130,000), for combined compensation of about $530,000 by 2004.

Shukla’s university salary increased dramatically over the decade reaching $250,866 by 2013 and $314,000 by 2014.  (In this latter year, Shukla was paid much more than Ed Wegman, a George Mason professor of similar seniority). Meanwhile, despite the apparent transition of IGES to George Mason, the income of the Shuklas from IGES continued to increase, reaching $547,000 by 2013.  Combined with Shukla’s university salary,  the total compensation of Shukla and his wife exceeded $800,000 in both 2013 and 2014.  In addition, as noted above, Shukla’s daughter continued to be employed by IGES in 2014; IGES also distributed $100,000 from its climate grant revenue to support an educational charity in India which Shukla had founded.


There is a surprising link between the George Mason department and one of my earliest adversaries at NSF, David Verardo, Mann’s handler at NSF, who told him in 2003 that he didn’t have to provide data to me – that Mann was entitled to his view of climate and I was entitled to mine. Verardo’s wife, Stacey Verardo, is a colleague of Shukla, Kinter, Klinger and the others in the AOES department at George Mason, while Verardo himself is a member of the Adjunct Faculty at George Mason. (Update: David Verardo has commented below that his “wife is a geologist who has worked in the department long before climate dynamics was a part of the department” and “has no professional relationship with the climate dynamics group beyond serving in the same department and working on instructional issues that arise at the university” and that he himself “do not handle proposals from GMU because of obvious conflicts of interest but even more practical, the awards to climate dynamic research are not in my NSF program.”)

Shukla attracted attention as the lead author of the RICO20 letter, which was originally posted at the website of the Institute of Global Environment and Society Inc, though the professors all listed George Mason University as their affiliation.  Pielke Jr became curious about the institution that had chosen to initiate this offensive letter and had the bright idea of looking up their 990 filings, thus discovering Shukla’s double dip.

Five other George Mason employees were RICO20 signatories, four of whom are long-time Shukla associates: Dirmeyer, Straus, Paul Schopf and Barry Klinger. (It’s interesting that James Kinter didn’t sign it.)  The other George Mason RICO 20 signatory, Edward Maibach, is in some sort of climate communications and, together with Heidi Cullen, holds a $2,998,178 grant from NSF.  Many of the other RICO20 signatories had previous associations with IGES. Kevin Trenberth and Mike Wallace had both been on its “Science Advisory Committee” in the past.  Nearly all of the RICO20 signatories, including Trenbeth andWallace, attended a large symposium in April 2015 to honor Shukla – see picture at link.

IGES’ webpage says that its corporate objective was to share “the fruits” of its research “with society as a whole”, though, in practice, an equally important objective seems to have been to share the fruits of its research funding with Shukla (and Kinter). The sheer lucrativeness of Shukla’s deal raised some eyebrows in skeptic blogs, but none so far at warmist blogs, not even at Michael Tobis’ aptly named Only In It for the Gold or among Barry Klinger and the RICO20.

Reckless Misinformation from Barry Klinger and the RICO 20


The RICO-20 gang of climate academics commenced its supposed campaign against misinformation with false information about skeptic reactions to the Cuccinelli investigation. Barry Klinger, one of Shukla’s hangers-on at George Mason University,  stated:

However, I don’t recall climate contrarians coming to the defense of Michael Mann when he was subject to ideologically-based legal harrassment from then-Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli as well as from Republicans in Congress.

Klinger’s statement is completely untrue, as he could have discovered with a moment’s investigation. I, Ross McKitrick, Tom Fuller, Chip Knappenberger, Pielke Jr and John Christy, among others, all forcefully criticized the Cuccinelli investigation. In today’s post, I’ll rebut Klinger’s false information.

To be clear – and this nuance was not recognized by all readers – I did not challenge Cuccinelli’s right to investigate financial impropriety; my argument was against what I saw as an abuse of administrative authority – a topic on which I had strong opinions long before I had ever heard of climate.   Had Mann’s name emerged from financial warning-flags, I would have taken a different position.  Had there been evidence that Mann had, for example, funnelled NSF grants through a personal corporation and that Mann had double-dipped by paying himself and his wife through the personal corporation as well as his university salary, I would have had a different attitude.  As many readers are aware, Roger Pielke Jr has identified apparent evidence of this sort of double-dipping by the leader of the RICO-20, Jagadish Shukla of George Mason University.

In a follow-up post, I’ll review this evidence. In today’s post, I will limit myself to refuting Klinger’s false claim.

Continue reading

The “Blade” of Ocean2K

I’ve had a longstanding interest in high-resolution ocean proxies (with posts as early as 2005 – see Ocean Sediment tag) and had already written detailed reviews of many of the individual high-resolution series used in Ocean2K (e.g. here here here here here here). In these prior discussions, the divergence between the 20th century proxy data and 20th century instrumental data had been a major issue.  The non-bladedness of Ocean2K data was therefore unsurprising to me.

Although, for their main figures, the Ocean2K authors made the questionable decisions to voluntarily degrade their data both into 200-year bins and from deg C to SD units, in their Supplementary Information, they identified a network of 21 series with high-resolution extending into the 20th century, showing results in 25-year bins but only for the short period 1850-2000, once again re-scaling, this time using only six values (25-year bins) for each series.

In my first post, I had undertaken to examine their data in higher resolution and will do so today using their high-resolution network – without the needless re-scaling and over the entire 0-2000 interval. The results clearly confirm the absence of a 20th century blade.  The Ocean2K authors were singularly uninformative about this obvious result; I’ll show how they worked around this “problem”.   I’ll also discuss untrue claims by Ken Rice (ATTP) and other ClimateBallers that the Ocean2K data “finishes in 1900” or is otherwise too low resolution to permit identification of a concealed blade.

Background: the Ocean Proxy “Divergence Problem”

I had initially become interested in high-resolution ocean data (especially alkenone and Mg/Ca, rather than dO18) because, as opposed to tree rings, they were directly calibrated in deg C according to standard equations (not ex post correlations).

Alkenone series are based on the ratio of C37:2 and C37:3 in coccolithopores, while Mg/Ca series are based on ratios in foraminifera, with surface dwelling foraminifera (especially G. ruber) being of interest.  During the past 20 years and especially the past 10 years, alkenone samples have been widely collected throughout world oceans and coretop and sediment trap calibrations yield sensible maps of ocean temperature without jiggling. In deep time, they also yield “sensible” results. Alkenone series constitute 15 of 21 high-resolution of the Ocean2K dataset (26 of 57 overall) and also the majority of the Marcott ocean data (31 of 60), with foraminifera Mg/Ca being the second-largest fraction.

Alkenone and Mg/Ca series had originally been collected to shed light on “deep time”, but there were occasional box cores which both preserved the most recent sediments (a sampling problem with piston cores) and which had been sampled at sufficiently high-resolution to shed light on the past two millennia.  I’ve made a practice of regularly examining the NOAA and Pangaea datasets for potentially relevant new data and, over the past 10 years, had already noticed and separately discussed many of the series in the high-resolution Ocean2K dataset (e.g. here here here here here here).

Here, for example, is a figure from Leduc et al 2010, previously shown at CA here, showing dramatic decreases in alkenone SST at two sites: Morocco, Benguela.  (Both these sites are included in the Ocean2K high-resolution dataset, both with more than thirty 20th century values.)  Numerous other CA posts on the topic are in the following tags: Ocean sediment; Alkenone.

Figure 1. From Leduc et al 2010. Both locations are in the Ocean2K high-resolution network.

In a number of CA posts, I had questioned the “alkenone divergence problem”, the term alluding to the notorious divergence between instrumental temperatures and tree ring density proxies that had given rise to various “tricks” to “hide the decline” in Mann’s section of IPCC TAR and other articles in order not to “dilute the message”.  In important ways, the alkenone divergence problem is even more troubling as (1) there is a physical calibration of alkenone proxies, whereas tree ring densities are merely correlated after the fact; and (2) alkenone proxies have “sensible” properties in deep time.

The “problem” arising from divergence between a proxy reconstruction and instrumental temperature is that such divergence makes it impossible to have confidence in the proxy reconstructions in earlier periods without reconciling the divergence.   Mann, for example, has always insisted that his reconstructions have statistical “skill” in calibration and verification periods, though the validity of such claims has obviously been at issue.

A Reconstruction from the Ocean2K “High-Resolution” Dataset

The Ocean2K data consisted of 57 series of wildly differing resolution: nine series had fewer than 20 values, while twelve series had more than 100 values.  In geophysics, specialists always use high-resolution data where available and use low-resolution data only where better data is unavailable.  In contrast, in their main figures, the Ocean2K authors degraded all their data into 200-year bins and made composites of the data only after blurring.

In their Supplementary Information, the Ocean2K authors identified a subset of 21 high-resolution series: twelve of the 21 series had more than 20 values in the 20th century, seven series had more than forty 20th century values and all but one had more than eight values.  In Figure S10, they showed a high-resolution composite in 25-year bins, but only for the 1850-2000 period and only in SD Units (1850-2000 and only after binning).

Because the underlying proxy data is already in deg C, it is trivially easy (easier in fact) to do the Ocean2K calculations in deg C rather than SD Units and it’s hard to believe that the Ocean2K authors hadn’t already done so.    Figure 2 below shows the composite of high-resolution ocean cores in 25-year bins over the 0-2000 period (rather than 1850-2000) and in deg C (rather than SD units.)  For comparison, I’ve also shown instrumental HadSST (black) and the composite from the full network in Ocean2K technique using 200-year bins (but retaining deg C).    Expressed in deg C, there is a major divergence in the 20th century between instrumental temperature and the proxy reconstruction.   Even late 20th century proxy values are clearly below medieval values.


Figure 2. Red – 25-year bin composite of  Ocean2K high-resolution ocean cores (not using one incongruous singleton coral series) retaining deg C. Magenta- composite for full network, calculated as in Ocean2K composite, but retaining deg C throughout. Black – HadSST global (since ERSST global series only begins in 1880.)  

McGregor et al made no mention of this dramatic divergence in their main text, instead asserting that “the composite of reconstructions from tropical regions are in qualitative agreement with historical SST warming at the same locations”:

Although assessment of significance is limited by the number and resolution of the reconstructions, and by the small amount of overlap with historical SST estimates, we find that the composite of reconstructions from tropical regions are in qualitative agreement with historical SST warming at the same locations (Supplementary Fig. S10). Upwelling processes recorded at a number of the sites may also influence the twentieth-century composite (Supplementary Sections 1 and 8).

Even if the tropical composite was in “qualitative” agreement (a point that I will examine in a future article), this implies that the extratropical divergence has to be that much worse in order to yield the actual overall divergence.  It is very misleading for the authors to claim “qualitative agreement” in the tropics without disclosing the overall divergence.

Deep in their Supplementary Information (page 44), they quietly conceded that the high-resolution composite did not yield the warming trend of the instrumental data, but there is no hint of this important result in the text of the article:

The 21_O2k and 21_Kaplan composites are non-significantly correlated (r2 = 0.17, df = 4, p = 0.42), with the warming trend in the 21_Kaplan not reproduced in the 21_O2k composite (Supplementary Fig. S10).

They illustrated this with the following graphic (in 1850-2000 SD units after binning). While the use of SD Units degrades the data, even this figure ought to have been sufficient to dispel the speculation of some ClimateBallers that the 1800-2000 bin might combine low 19th century values and high 20th century values, thereby concealing a blade.


Figure 3. Excerpt from Ocean 2K SI Figure S10, showing Kaplan SST (top panel) and Ocean2K high-resolution composite, both expressed in 1850-2000 SD Units (after binning).

While the SD units of the 200-year bin and 25-year bin figures are not the same, I think that it is still instructive to show the two panels with consistent centering.  In the figure below, I’ve centered the panel showing the 25-year bins so that it matches the reference level of the final (1800-2000) bin of the 200-year reconstruction, further illustrating that its final bin does not contain a concealed blade.


Figure 4. Left panel – Ocean2K in 200-year bins (PAGES2K FAQ version from here); right – bottom panel of SI Figure S10a, with its zero value aligned to value of 1800-2000 bin in left panel.   Both panels in SD Units (not deg C).  I’ve been able to closely emulate results in the left panel, but not as closely in the right panel.  

The Supplementary Information carries out corresponding analyses on subsets of the high-resolution data: tropical vs extratropical, upwelling vs non-upwelling, alkenone vs Mg/Ca.   Trying to analyse the divergence through such stratification is entirely justified, though the actual statistical analysis carried out by the Ocean2K authors is far from professional standard. I’ll discuss these analyses in a separate post.   For now, I’ll note that similar concerns have been raised about alkenone data in a Holocene context, even by Ocean2K authors.  Lorenz et al 2006 (discussed at CA in early 2007 here) had contrasted trends in tropical vs extratropical alkenone data over the Holocene; in my commentary, I had pointed out the prevalence of upwelling locations in the tropical data.

Postscript: False ClimateBaller Claims that the Data “Finishes in 1900” 

In reaction to my first post, Ken Rice (ATTP) and other ClimateBallers argued that there was no reason to expect the Ocean2K data to have a blade, since the data supposedly ended in 1900 or was otherwise too low resolution.  Such claims were made at David Appell’s here, at Rice’s blog here and on Twitter.

As I observed in my post, the Ocean2K data archive is excellent and the measurement counts easily calculated. A barplot of measurements (grey) and cores (red) is shown below.  Not only does the data not end in 1900, the number of individual measurements from the 20th century is larger than any previous century.  Nor is this sample too small to permit analysis.  21 series are considerably more than the number of medieval proxies in many canonical multiproxy studies that are uncontested by IPCC or ClimateBallers. While it would be nice to have more data (especially in the Southern Ocean), there’s easily enough 20th century data to be worthwhile discussing.


Figure 5. Number of measurements in the Ocean2K dataset by 20-year period (grey); number of contributing series by 20-year period (red).

Now consider various assertions about the data made by Rice and others. Shortly after my original article, Rice stated (here and here) that the data ended in 1900 and thus there was no reason to expect a blade.

“As far as I’m aware, it finsishes in 1900 and the paper has “pre-industrial” in the title. So why would we expect it to have a blade?”

Rice even accused me of “misread[ing]” the x-axis:

Can’t quite work out how you’ve managed to misread the x-axis so badly?

I informed Rice in a comment at Appell’s that his belief that ended “in 1900” was incorrect as follows:

Ken says: “As far as I’m aware, it finsishes in 1900 and the paper has “pre-industrial” in the title. So why would we expect it to have a blade?”  The data doesn’t end in 1900. There are more measurements in the 20th century than in any previous century. The 20th century data doesn’t have a Hockey Stick either, as you can see in their Figure S10a.

I had also posted a Twitter comment highlighting that, even in the Ocean 2K step graph, the final (1800-2000) bin of the step-graph extended to 2000.  Rather than defend his false claims, Rice made a Gavinesque exit, but not before making an unsupported allegation that I was spreading “misinformation” about the Ocean2K study:


Nonetheless, a few days later, Rice returned to the topic in a blog article on Sept 13, re-iterating his untrue claim that the Ocean2K data ended “in 1900”:

Steve McIntyre (who was involved in the discussion on David Appell’s blog) seems to be highlighting that the recent Ocean2K reconstruction does not have a blade. Well, the data appears to end in 1900 and the paper title is Robust global ocean cooling trend for the pre-industrial Common Era, so why would we expect there to be a blade.

This time, one of his readers (improbably, Sou) pointed out to Rice that the 1800-2000 bin must include 20th century data. Sou speculated that 200-year bin could contain a concealed blade in the bin through a combination of cold 19th century values and warm late 20th century values – apparently unaware that this possibility had already been foreclosed by Supplementary Figure S10):

I don’t know that the recent ocean2k paper ended in 1900. I think what it did was end in the 1801 to 2000 “bin”, which would have included the coldest years of the past 2,000 years, as well as whatever proxy records were included up to 2000. The boxes in Figure 2 showed a lot of things, including the median for each 200 year bin, the latest of which was centred on 1900 – but went from 1801 to 2000.

Rice amended his post to say that his prior assertion (that the data ended in 1900) wasn’t “strictly correct”:

 What I say here isn’t strictly correct.

However, the issue is not that his original assertion wasn’t “strictly correct”; the issue was that it was unambiguously wrong.

The Ocean2K “Hockey Stick”

The long-awaited (and long overdue) PAGES2K synthesis of 57 high-resolution ocean sediment series (OCEAN2K) was published a couple of weeks ago (see here here). Co-author Michael Evans’ announcement made the results sound like the latest and perhaps most dramatic Hockey Stick yet:

Today, the Earth is warming about 20 times faster than it cooled during the past 1,800 years,” said Michael Evans, second author of the study and an associate professor in the University of Maryland’s Department of Geology and Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center (ESSIC). “This study truly highlights the profound effects we are having on our climate today.”

A couple of news outlets announced its release with headlines like “1,800 years of global ocean cooling halted by global warming”, but the the event passed unnoticed at realclimate and the newest “Hockey Stick” was somehow omitted from David Appell’s list of bladed objects.

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Op Ed on Deflategate

In Financial Post here. My submitted version was a little harsher. #deflategate For related blog posts, see tag here.


Did McNally Inflate One Football in the Washroom?

In today’s post,  I’m going to show the Deflategate data from a new perspective.   Rather than arguing about whether the Patriots used the Logo gauge, I’ve assumed, for the sake of argument, the NFL’s conclusion that the Non-Logo gauge was used, but gone further (as they ought to have done). I’ve “guessed” the amount of deflation that would be required to yield the observations. And, instead of only considering the overall average, I plotted each data point and how the “guessed” deflation would reconcile each data point.

Some very surprising results emerged, one of which raises the question in the title: did McNally inflate one football in the washroom?  If the question doesn’t seem to make sense, read on.

Rather than one guess being applicable to all measurements, I ended up needing four different groups each with a different guessed deflation.  A “good” guess (i.e. one that “worked”) for the majority of balls (7) was 0.38 psi – an interesting number that I’ll discuss in the post.  A good guess for two balls was zero deflation.  But for ball #7, it was necessary to assume that it had been inflated by approximately 0.5 psi in the washroom. One ball was lower than the others (0.76 psi) and remains hard to explain.  The Wells Report reasonably drew attention to variability, but did not address the details of actual variability other than arm-waving and did not actually show that erratic washroom deflation was a plausible explanation for observed variability.

While the approach in today’s post doesn’t appear conceptual,  statistical algorithms, including linear regression,  typically solve inverse problems.  The spirit of today’s post is approaching Deflategate as an inverse problem.  In doing so, I am aware (as Carrick has forcefully observed) that the underlying physical conditions were poorly defined, but people still need to make decisions using the available information as best they can.  I think that the approach in today’s post provides a much more plausible and satisfying explanation of the variation in Patriot pressures than those presented by either Exponent or Snyder or, for that matter, my own previous commentary.

Bear with the explanation of context, as the results are interesting.

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Letter to Daniel Marlow on Exponent Error

On June 29, I sent a letter to Ted Wells, notifying him of the erroneous description of key figures in the Exponent report, but did not receive any acknowledgement.  In the presumption that Daniel Marlow of Princeton is more likely to be concerned about the erroneous research record (as well as having obligations that the research record be properly presented) I sent him a similar letter today, copying lawyers Daniel Goldberg and Jeffrey Kessler.

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