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The Last Two Weeks

December 5, 2009

Obviously, I’ve done less blogging in the last couple of weeks than I have for a long time. A variety of reasons. I’ve done a lot of interviews, not all of which have resulted in quotes. I find it hard to write when I’m doing a lot of talking. Maybe, some people can’t, but I have trouble. Second, there are so many interesting topics for me in the Climategate Letters that I hardly know where to begin. I start down one interesting aspect and then get distracted and end up with notes on 15 things. Third, I’ve felt very tired.

Gerry North Doesn’t Understand the “Trick”

December 1, 2009

Gerry North told the Washington post that the NAS panel did exactly the same thing as Phil Jones’ trick. (Dec. 1, 2009) North is talking through his hat. North:

We put the tree ring record on the graph and stuck the instrument record on for the last 50 years in exactly the way [Phil] Jones in his [leaked] email referred to as a ʻtrickʼ. We did not know of his email (it was happening at the same time and we were careful not to have any contact with the IPCC process going on at that time), and we did precisely the same thing because it was the natural thing to do

This isn’t Jones’ trick.

The “problem” arises because Briffa reconstruction goes down from 1940 to 1994 instead of up.

Jones deleted the post-1960 values of the Briffa reconstruction, replaced them with instrumental values, smoothed the spliced series (see posts by both Jean S and myself proving this) and ended up with a reconstruction that looked like an accurate reconstruction of late 20th century temperatures. He didn’t merely show a temperature series alongside a proxy reconstruction, which is what the NAS panel did.

The NAS panel had a different approach to the “problem” of the Briffa reconstruction. They simply didn’t show it.

If North is going to issue pronouncements on Jones’ trick, then he should at least know what Jones’ trick is. If he doesn’t know precisely what it was (as he obviously doesn’t), then it’s better to say nothing than to pretend that he knows what it was.

Mann: “Dirty Laundry” from MBH98-99

December 1, 2009

Gerald North, Dec 1, 2009 purporting to justify data refusals by the Team:

McIntyre entered the fray by asking for data from Mann and his coauthors in about 2000 [actually 2003, but who expects accuracy from climate scientists]. As I understand it they complied, but the more they complied the more he wanted. He began to make requests of others. He sometimes not only wanted data, but computer programs. When he could not figure out how the programs worked he wanted help. From what they tell me this became so irritating that they stopped answering his emails.

North is giving public credence to this increasingly popular meme among climate scientists. Virtually everything in North’s meme is untrue. Rather than provide a detailed rebuttal, let me suggest an another and far more plausible alternative. Mann and others didn’t want to give data to potential critics. Let me show an actual situation, one where the Climategate Letters provide much new information.

The Mann et al 1998-99 reconstruction had “steps” (grandiosely called “experiments” by Mann), but the results of the individual steps were never archived, only the splice of 11 steps. For statistical analysis, one needs to have the residuals, which we requested in 2003. Mann refused. At this point in 2003, contrary to North’s allegations, Mann hadn’t provided any source code, any computer programs nor any interpretations of computer programs. All that he had provided us was a URL on his FTP site for the proxy data supposedly used in MBH – a data set that he later claimed was the “wrong” data set and which he deleted in Nov 2003 and a new version of the MBH proxy data was made public. At the point that the residuals were refused, Mann hadn’t spent more than a few minutes responding to requests from us.

The MBH residual series crop up in the Climategate Letters. In July 2003, Mann had sent CRU the very data that he later refused to provide to us. (BTW Osborn also asked Mann for source code and interpretation of matters that he did not understand.) Mann made it very clear to Osborn that the residual series were provided in total confidence, that they were “dirty laundry” which he did not want to “fall into” the wrong hands.

Did Mann refuse to provide the residual series to us because answering our inquiries had taken up so much of his time that he stopped answering? Or was there some other reason?

Michael Mann to Tim Osborn, CRU, July 2003

Attached are the calibration residual series for experiments based on available networks back to: AD 1000, AD 1400, AD 1600… You only want to look at the first column (year) and second column (residual) of the files. I can’t even remember what the other columns are! mike
p.s. I know I probably don’t need to mention this, but just to insure absolutely clarify on this, I’m providing these for your own personal use, since you’re a trusted colleague. So please don’t pass this along to others without checking w/ me first. This is the sort of “dirty laundry” one doesn’t want to fall into the hands of those who might potentially try to distort things…

McIntyre to Mann, December 2003 cc NSF

In MBH98 and MBH99, you refer to analyses of residuals carried out in these studies. Could you please provide me with (a) preferably, a FTP location for the residual series, together an FTP reference for the program generating the residuals; or, (b) in the absence of such FTP location, an email enclosing this information. Your analysis of these residuals was used to estimate confidence intervals in an influential scientific paper.

David Verardo Director, Paleoclimate Program, US National Science Foundation, Dec. 17, 2003 preemptively permitting Mann not to disclose his “dirty laundry”:

Dr. Mann and his other US colleagues are under no obligation to provide you with any additional data beyond the extensive data sets they have already made available. He is not required to provide you with computer programs, codes, etc. His research is published in the peer-reviewed literature which has passed muster with the editors of those journals and other scientists who have reviewed his manuscripts. You are free to your analysis of climate data and he is free to his.

McIntyre to Ziemelis of Nature, August 2004

we are writing to reiterate long-standing requests for data and results from MBH98, which we have already communicated on several occasions. You had stated that these requests would be resolved in the new SI, but unfortunately this is not the case. While you are undoubtedly weary of this correspondence, our original request for disclosure was reasonable and remains reasonable. It is only the unresponsiveness of the original authors that is placing a burden on you and your associates. Some of these items have been outstanding for 7 months. They were not attended to in the new SI and need to be dealt with promptly. … In particular, we still seek … the results of the 11 “experiments” referred to in MBH98, including: (b) the NH temperature reconstruction (11 series from the start of each calculation step to 1980); (c) the residuals (11 series from the start of each calculation step to 1980)… Since their claims of skill in reconstructing past climates depend on these “experiments” and their estimation of confidence intervals is based on the residual series, it is unnecessary to explain why these data are of interest. Again, we have repeatedly requested this data.

Ziemelis to McIntyre, Sept 2004
And with regard to the additional experimental results that you request, our view is that this too goes beyond an obligation on the part of the authors, given that the full listing of the source data and documentation of the procedures used to generate the final findings are provided in the corrected Supplementary Information. (This is the most that we would normally require of any author.)

Press Coverage

November 29, 2009

Please discuss press coverage on this thread, rather than OT comments on other threads. I realize that there are many new readers and this site has been patched together quickly to handle overthrow from Climate Audit. Please observe policies on not discussing policy – I don’t want to discuss or speculate on Copenhagen or cap-and-trade – you can do so elsewhere. Please do not editorialize on ethics. I understand the temptation, but please refrain anyway. There are some words and language that are strictly forbidden. Please avoid being excessively angry or piling on.

Here’s a quick start – there are dozens.
The Times Online

The Daily Express

Still Hiding the Decline

November 29, 2009

Even in their Nov 24, 2009 statement, the University of East Anglia failed to come clean about the amount of decline that was hidden. The graphic in their statement continued to “hide the decline” in the Briffa reconstruction by deleting adverse results in the last part of the 20th century. This is what Gavin Schmidt characterizes as a “good thing to do”.
Read more…

Replicating the “Trick” Diagram

November 29, 2009

Michael Mann, Dec 2004

No researchers in this field have ever, to our knowledge, “grafted the thermometer record onto” any reconstruction. It is somewhat disappointing to find this specious claim (which we usually find originating from industry-funded climate disinformation websites) appearing in this forum [realclimate].

Phil Jones, Nov 1999

I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.

Gavin Schmidt, Nov 2009

Scientists often use the term “trick” to refer to a “a good way to deal with a problem”, rather than something that is “secret”, and so there is nothing problematic in this at all.

I’ve been able to make a very close emulation of Jones’ 1999 WMO diagram. Read more…

“A good way to deal with a problem”

November 28, 2009

In the UEA statement of Nov 24, 2009, Phil Jones said:

CRU has not sought to hide the decline. Indeed, CRU has published a number of articles that both illustrate, and discuss the implications of, this recent tree-ring decline, including the article that is listed in the legend of the WMO Statement figure. It is because of this trend in these tree-ring data that we know does not represent temperature change that I only show this series up to 1960 in the WMO Statement.

Here is the corresponding figure in the UEA statement. I’ve added a yellow line for 1960. Although Jones’ statement says that he “only showed this series up to 1960”, the series attributed to “Briffa (1999)” obviously continues past 1960 into the 1990s. Jones said that CRU did not attempt to hide the decline in the Briffa reconstruction. And it is true that earlier articles did not take advantage of “Mike’s trick”. However, although the “real” Briffa reconstruction goes down after 1960, the series in the diagram attributed to “Briffa (1999)” goes up. The decline in the Briffa reconstruction is not shown; it is hidden. Gavin Schmidt of real climate says that this is “a good way to deal with a problem”. I disagree (and recorded this disagreement in a related context in connection with IPCC AR4 as discussed elsewhere.)

WMO Original caption: Northern Hemisphere temperatures were reconstructed for the past 1000 years (up to 1999) using palaeoclimatic records (tree rings, corals, ice cores, lake sediments, etc.), along with historical and long instrumental records. The data are shown as 50-year smoothed differences from the 1961–1990 normal. Uncertainties are greater in the early part of the millennium (see page 4 for further information). For more details, readers are referred to the PAGES newsletter (Vol. 7, No. 1: March 1999, also available at and the National Geophysical Data Center ( (Sources of data: P.D. Jones, K.R. Briffa and T.J. Osborn, University of East Anglia, UK; M.E. Mann, University of Virginia, USA; R.S. Bradley, University of Massachusetts, USA; M.K. Hughes, University of Arizona, USA; and the Hadley Centre, The Met. Office).