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December 13, 2009

Must Read: Daily Mail Digests ClimateGate

And not just digests; there is little question about whose side they're on here.

And this may be completely unfair, but when they suggest the science is far from settled, I can't help but hear them saying "The science is far from settled, boy."

I would quote this but the real meat of it is, like, the entire first two thirds of the article, and I'm having trouble seeing how I can "excerpt" this properly within the bounds of fair use.

How about I just say read the whole thing?

Here's a lengthy excerpt, but my real suggestion is just to read the thing, and take a gander at the charts, where the Warmists attempted to quite literally "hide the decline" by covering/masking the tree-ring data showing plunging temperatures with other trend lines, so you simply could not see the tree-ring line, and they could claim, "Oh dear, oh dear, of course that green line was included, but darnitall, it just seems to have been printed behind some other lines. Sorry."

It is true that, in Watson’s phrase, in the autumn of 1999 Jones and his colleagues were trying to ‘tweak’ a diagram. But it wasn’t just any old diagram.

It was the chart displayed on the first page of the ‘Summary for Policymakers’ of the 2001 IPCC report - the famous ‘hockey stick’ graph that has been endlessly reproduced in everything from newspapers to primary-school textbooks ever since, showing centuries of level or declining temperatures until a dizzying, almost vertical rise in the late 20th Century.

There could be no simpler or more dramatic representation of global warming, and if the origin of worldwide concern over climate change could be traced to a single image, it would be the hockey stick.

Drawing a diagram such as this is far from straightforward.

Gabriel Fahrenheit did not invent the mercury thermometer until 1724, so scientists who want to reconstruct earlier climate history have to use ‘proxy data’ - measurements derived from records such as ice cores, tree-rings and growing season dates.

However, different proxies give very different results.

For example, some suggest that the ‘medieval warm period’, the 350-year era that started around 1000, when red wine grapes flourished in southern England and the Vikings tilled now-frozen farms in Greenland, was considerably warmer than even 1998.

Of course, this is inconvenient to climate change believers because there were no cars or factories pumping out greenhouse gases in 1000AD - yet the Earth still warmed.

Some tree-ring data eliminates the medieval warmth altogether, while others reflect it. In September 1999, Jones’s IPCC colleague Michael Mann of Penn State University in America - who is now also the subject of an official investigation --was working with Jones on the hockey stick. As they debated which data to use, they discussed a long tree-ring analysis carried out by Keith Briffa.

Briffa knew exactly why they wanted it, writing in an email on September 22: ‘I know there is pressure to present a nice tidy story as regards “apparent unprecedented warming in a thousand years or more”.’ But his conscience was troubled. ‘In reality the situation is not quite so simple - I believe that the recent warmth was probably matched about 1,000 years ago.’


Another British scientist - Chris Folland of the Met Office’s Hadley Centre - wrote the same day that using Briffa’s data might be awkward, because it suggested the past was too warm. This, he lamented, ‘dilutes the message rather significantly’.

Over the next few days, Briffa, Jones, Folland and Mann emailed each other furiously. Mann was fearful that if Briffa’s trees made the IPCC diagram, ‘the sceptics [would] have a field day casting doubt on our ability to understand the factors that influence these estimates and, thus, can undermine faith [in them] - I don’t think that doubt is scientifically justified, and I’d hate to be the one to have to give it fodder!’

Finally, Briffa changed the way he computed his data and submitted a revised version. This brought his work into line for earlier centuries, and ‘cooled’ them significantly. But alas, it created another, potentially even more serious, problem.

According to his tree rings, the period since 1960 had not seen a steep rise in temperature, as actual temperature readings showed - but a large and steady decline, so calling into question the accuracy of the earlier data derived from tree rings.

This is the context in which, seven

weeks later, Jones presented his ‘trick’ - as simple as it was deceptive.

All he had to do was cut off Briffa’s inconvenient data at the point where the decline started, in 1961, and replace it with actual temperature readings, which showed an increase.

On the hockey stick graph, his line is abruptly terminated - but the end of the line is obscured by the other lines.

‘Any scientist ought to know that you just can’t mix and match proxy and actual data,’ said Philip Stott, emeritus professor of biogeography at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies.

‘They’re apples and oranges. Yet that’s exactly what he did.’

Since Warmergate-broke, some of the CRU’s supporters have claimed that Jones and his colleagues made a ‘full disclosure’ of what they did to Briffa’s data in order to produce the hockey stick.

But as McIntyre points out, ‘contrary to claims by various climate scientists, the IPCC Third Assessment Report did not disclose the deletion of the post-1960 values’.

On the final diagram, the cut off was simply concealed by the other lines.

By 2007, when the IPCC produced its fourth report, McIntyre had become aware of the manipulation of the Briffa data and Briffa himself, as shown at the start of this article, continued to have serious qualms.

McIntyre by now was an IPCC ‘reviewer’ and he urged the IPCC not to delete the post-1961 data in its 2007 graph. ‘They refused,’ he said, ‘stating this would be “inappropriate”.’

I guessed at that point earlier -- that the "hide the decline" problem came in the first instance from attempting to reduce the importance of certain proxies proving a Medieval Warm Period, and when that "adjustment" was made, it made the current era (the last fifty years around) completely screwey as regards predicted (retroactively) temperatures.

I had that sense because I know a poll analyst who always runs into this problem -- play wack-a-mole with one screwed-up demographic that's giving you fits and you create two other problems -- and that person isn't even deliberately trying to fudge results or get to a pre-determined conclusions.

So, yes, you can get rid of this troublesome Medieval Warm Period, but only by imposing an algorithm that causes tree-rings to completely go 180 degrees in the opposite direction from observed modern temperature readings.

Injecting one falsehood into the alleged models causes another that cannot be eliminated from the models, but only hidden by simply snipping that portion of the modeling out altogether.

By the way, the supposed headline here is that the Russians admit the HARRY_READ_ME file did originate on one of their servers, but that they didn't leak it; that doesn't seem like real news to me. It's just a confirmation of something we already knew and a denial of something we're speculating about. Neither seems particularly remarkable.


McIntyre... wrote a blog-post that it seems much of this Daily Mail article is based on. So maybe read that too, or instead of.


Via Jim "The Preacher" Treacher.

Argument: Regarding Darwin Station's suspiciously-high homogenization adjustments: The Economist posted this dismissal, which at first sounds persuasive, until you read this rejoinder.


Disappearing Story: In case you thought you just saw a story appear and then vanish --

Sorry, I pulled this story. I was still drafting it -- it was something I was doodling around with it -- and accidentally posted it.

And in fact, posted it as I was trying to rewrite it and and figure out how to address a big fat error I had made, which invalidated the central point I was making. As it was a pure misfire, and it was up for literally one second, I'm gonna go ahead and keep it hidden. FWIW: I screwed up, read a chart completely wrong, went off on it, criticizing the Economist for reading the chart wrong while I was. I was trying to find a different error I could pin on them when I accidentally posted.


digg this
posted by Ace at 03:26 PM

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