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« Snow in New England | Main | Sits vac »
Sunday
Oct302011

Curry on BEST

Popcorn time. Read this in the Mail on Sunday:

The Mail on Sunday can reveal that a leading member of Prof Muller’s team has accused him of  trying to mislead the public by hiding the fact that BEST’s research shows global warming has stopped.

Prof Judith Curry, who chairs the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at America’s prestigious Georgia Institute of Technology, said that Prof Muller’s claim that he has proven global warming sceptics wrong was also a ‘huge mistake’, with no  scientific basis.

Prof Curry is a distinguished climate researcher with more than 30 years experience and the second named co-author of the BEST project’s four research papers.

 

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Reader Comments (214)

Rose's article says:

‘We see no evidence of it [global warming] having slowed down,’ [Muller] told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. There was, he added, ‘no levelling off’.

Can anyone provide more detail?

This is a perfect media storm.

Oct 30, 2011 at 2:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub

"It’s like watching a team of phrenologists bashing their heads against a brick wall, trying to come up with ever more interesting bumps."

Oct 30, 2011 at 2:21 PM | geoffchambers


Now there's an image for Josh to conjure with...

Oct 30, 2011 at 2:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh.

Agreed with Pharos. This is Rose and the Mail sticking it to the hacks at the Guardian, Independent, Economist and the BBC (supporters of the consensus and desperate for any straws to support their selling their own consciences). All power to Rose.

I am sure Tim Lambert will burst an artery now. :)

Muller fed a hungry, starving monster - the consensus media monster starved of material at the trough of climate consensus alarmism.

Oct 30, 2011 at 2:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub

Sounds like "Madam Butterfly" Curry reached that point in Kabuki dance that has been the debate over "climate warming" where the action suddenly gets violent, grabbed a katana and sliced off Muller's head.

Ah, slightly off topic, but have any of you noticed the effects of Global Warming in the US lately? Sounds like the squirrels were right.

New York City sparkling white

Oct 30, 2011 at 2:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Shub at 2.32pm
Alex Cull has posted the transcript of the Muller interview at
https://sites.google.com/site/mytranscriptbox/home/20111021_r4

Oct 30, 2011 at 2:46 PM | Unregistered Commentergeoffchambers

Jolly good of Mueller to reignite the issues just before Durban.

I look forward further news from Curry when she meets with Mueller next week. He either has to make changes, and ends up with egg on his face, or Judy withdraws from BEST and Mueller ends up with egg on his face.

Eggy flavoured popcorn anyone?

Oct 30, 2011 at 2:53 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charley

if this isnt levelling of what is?

http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/best/from:2001/plot/best/from:2001/trend/plot/best/from:2001/trend/plot/best/from:2001/trend/plot/best/from:2001/mean:12

Oct 30, 2011 at 2:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterPKthinks

GeoffChambers:
Image of phrenologists knocking their heads against the wall to make the bumps match the models, if I might perturb your analogy, is pretty hard to beat. Josh??

Oct 30, 2011 at 3:02 PM | Unregistered Commenterj ferguson

Thanks geoff and alex. you guys are the best!

This is the central, relevant passage that ties the whole 'last 10 years-GWPF-Rose story: (emphasis mine)

Justin Webb: And have you also answered the question which is raised, again, by sceptics, about whether or not global warming has stopped in the last ten years?

Richard Muller: In our data, which was only on the land, we see no evidence of it having slowed down. Now the evidence which shows it being stopped is a combination of land and ocean data. The ocean does not heat as much as the land, just because it absorbs more of the heat. And when that data are combined with the land data, then the other groups have shown this where it does seem to be levelling off, but we have not seen that on the land data.

I read Muller's answer carefully. The question from Webb is a simple, straightforward one and it deserved a simple answer. Why did Muller give such a weird answer - going to such great lengths and splitting hairs, in order to reach a point where he can say"...we have not seen that on the land data".

Surely one explanation was that Muller was looking at the question through his own BEST lens - that of land station quality and how they tackled it. But even then, the reply to Webb is spin of such exquisite caliber (land is heating because ocean contain water which heat slowly), that there can be no doubt as to the intention of providing such an answer in a fast-moving radio interview.

Oct 30, 2011 at 3:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub

Muller says in the BBC interview that if there had been no temperature change that would imply AGW does not exist. That position is not logical. The could be AGW but the impact was hidden by natural forces. If these forces were cyclical they could act in the other direction and enhance the recorded increase. There is no way that the BEST can demonstrate that any temperature increase is solely down to anthropogenic effects.

Oct 30, 2011 at 3:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpen

"Curry's position is in contrast to our own James Delingpole or the great Anthony Watts who said: 'The issue of “the world is warming” is not one that climate skeptics question' . So advocates positioned as skeptics say both 'the world is warming but its not anthropogenic' and 'the world isnt warming'."
Oct 30, 2011 at 2:20 PM | Hengist

1) How many of those who question climate change hysteria reject the notion that the planet has not warmed up a bit since the end of the LIA? 2) How much warming has there been in the last decade according to the various datasets?

So your point is what, exactly?

Oct 30, 2011 at 4:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

Geoff - JC just mentioned you and your comment. Phrenology, that's the best analogy ever.

Oct 30, 2011 at 4:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio Morabito

... and thanks to Shub for teasing the hidden meaning out of what seemed a fairly simple interview. (Sometimes the syntax is as fascinating as the statistics, and we arts graduates don’t feel at a total loss).
It seems the minds of the finest scientists sometimes suffer from the same bizarre malformation as the minds of the simplest environmental journalists. They don’t want to see what is interesting, and so they leave it to others to point it out, leaving the impression of two sets of minds inhabiting parallel universes.

Oct 30, 2011 at 4:43 PM | Unregistered Commentergeoffchambers

Does anyone who has read the BEST analyses know why there is such a pronounced cool transient in 2010? It appears to be in antiphase to everything else (El Nino), and La Nina was yet to come.

It's interesting to see how BEST indicates higher surface temperatures for 2000 - 2010 (especially 2005 - 2010).

I haven't been following this very closely, I must admit.

BEST, GISTEMP land, CRUTEM3VGL, RSS land, UAH land; 1979 - present (common 1981 - 2010 baseline)

Oct 30, 2011 at 4:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

This is all very sad.

Would it not be best to present the data, without interpretation, and let the community decide - just like the folks at CERN have done?

Oct 30, 2011 at 5:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Longstaff

The last 10 years is hidden by the absurd filtering methods applied to the data. The last 5 years are inaccessible.

There is a great rule for statistics: Look at the data before you analyse it. Ok there's a lot of data, but it can be compressed visually and things that may not appear in algorithms are obvious to the naked eye.

The BEST data says nothing about the anthropogenic component of GW, as is clearly stated. Given the error limits, it is not possible to say if the current global warming is different from the 1910-1940 period. The data shows (?) a 2 degree increase over 2 centuries, with a .9 degree warming since the 1960s. This may or may not be unusual. The data doesn't tell us that.

Frankly, I think BEST is a bit of a non-event. It shows what every one has assumed to be the case, with the exception of deniers, but still raises questions about the validity of the data and the methods.

Oct 30, 2011 at 5:14 PM | Unregistered Commenterrc saumarez

I've always got the impression from Muller that he's a duplicitious publicity hound so I'm not too surprised with his handling of the announcement of the results. I do feel sorry for Dr. Curry though. He obviously didn't consult her about much while being happy to add her (still) good name under his.

Pointman

Oct 30, 2011 at 5:26 PM | Unregistered Commenterpointman

"Every good scientist is half B. F. Skinner and half P. T. Barnum."

Principal Skinner, The Simpsons.

Oct 30, 2011 at 5:35 PM | Unregistered CommentersHx

Putting the current 10 year flat-to-declining shape of the BEST average surface temp record in a broader context is useful. There is continuous discussion of the BEST results versus the earth heating since the LIA but an even broader context than that gives a gentler and more humble perspective. Let’s look at the Holocene Interglacial period.


In counterpose to the discourse on the earth’s global average temp increasing since the LIA within the bounds of natural variability we have:

=> The long term persistent rate of Earth cooling shown since the beginning of the current ~18,000 yr old Holocene Interglacial period. Let’s project a continued cooling to the end of our current interglacial that is predicated on it continuing to generally cool like it previously has and also like the cooling behavior of the previous continuously repeating six interglacials. It is seen there is an alternate broader view than that of alarming AGW by CO2 from fossil fuels.

I suggest the need to stop the myopic focus on the broken ideological/political advocacy science of alarming AGW by CO2 from fossil fuel which has been, for +25 years, suppressing a broader healthy and normal scientifically skeptical position.

John

Oct 30, 2011 at 5:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Whitman

rc saumarez

You can view the unfiltered series in full using Wood for Trees, eg:

BEST 1980 - present.

I think 'the present' for BEST is May 2010.

Oct 30, 2011 at 6:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Judith Curry is a scientist who looks at the data, makes an observation and tells it as the facts fall. In other words a real scientist. If the data changes I am sure she will then change to the new situation. That is science it is never settled.

Oct 30, 2011 at 7:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Whale

Looking at the data, one could wonder which of the C, A, G & W are now relevant. Muller states BEST didn't look at the A. Perhaps there was no point in doing so?

Oct 30, 2011 at 7:27 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

From "Hide The Decline" of Mann, Jones, et al to "Deny The Obvious" Muller and BEST.

It would appear that the last 50-60 years of data is where all the arguements lie.

Oct 30, 2011 at 7:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

Best comment on BEST so far for me:

Steve: Willis, I recommend that you take a valium. You’re jumping to conclusions.

I don't think he's the only one. I've been busy so have been trying to apply the Casablanca "hill of beans" test to all this this evening. The only really significant thing that I can see is Ross McKitrick's criticism. He seems entirely justified in his gripes - and we are the poorer for not being allowed to hear his informed views. That's a clash between old-style peer review and blog-led pre-publication free for all. But the result has been very unfair on Ross and other such reviewers who are bound to silence. Muller should apologise publicly for that.

I also think Steve Mc makes a powerful case for R being used by BEST rather than Matlab. Open source has to rule in this area. Berkeley, home of BSD, we expected better of you.

Judy's going to be spending time with Muller in the coming week, for the first time. I don't think the "he said, she said" amounts to a hill of beans. The openness of BEST is key. I trust these two can patch things up.

And the Daily Mail has done well to show the very stupid headlines from the four other esteemed UK publications. They stand condemned, even if Rose pushed too far in what he attributed to Curry.

And the good thing, just perhaps, is that the stink will cause more smart people to look at the issues for themselves.

Oct 30, 2011 at 7:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

And zeds doesnt answer the question ..again.
And hides..again.
Oh the pain Zeds.. :)

Oct 30, 2011 at 7:50 PM | Unregistered Commentermike Williams

Mac

It would appear that the last 50-60 years of data is where all the arguements lie.

BEST, 5 year mean, full series trend and trend 1960 - present

Oct 30, 2011 at 8:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Wow. I posted the President Eisenhower quote as a comment on the Mail story and it was put up immediatly. Never seen it happen that fast before.

Oct 30, 2011 at 9:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeteK

http://judithcurry.com/2011/10/30/mail-on-best/#comment-130253

David Rose's comment at Climate Etc

I am pleased you say that the quotes attributed to you in my article are accurate. But I think your memory is at fault when you state that it was I who first used the phrase “hide the decline”. You did this, twice, in our first conversation, although it’s true I was the first to mention it in our second talk.

I would never have tried to put words in your mouth, and especially not this phrase. It’s true I did ask you in the second conversation whether you thought this affair had to be compared with the leaked CRU emails. But having been asked, you said that it did, hence the paraphrase in my piece.

You will recall you said one other thing that was quite important and interesting that you asked me not to print, and I have honoured that request.

Anyhow, I hope we aren’t going to fall out over this. I enjoyed talking to you and I applaud your honesty in speaking out.

Oct 30, 2011 at 9:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub

Dr Curry has posted this update:

A few days ago, I received an email from Liz Muller, asking for suggestions for issues to deal with on their FAQ. I suggested dealing with the issue of whether there has been a stop/slowdown in the warming. Their response is posed here. The state “This exercise simply shows that the decadal fluctuations are too large to allow us to make decisive conclusions about long term trends based on close examination of periods as short as 13 to 15 years. ” Which I agree with. But take a look at the graph. The year 1998 shows up as relatively cool, starkly different from say CRU.

I also suggested a FAQ on their “end of skepticism” claim, see their response here: “Our study addressed only one area of the concerns: was the temperature rise on land improperly affected by the four key biases (station quality, homogenization, urban heat island, and station selection)? The answer turned out to be no – but they were questions worthy of investigation. Berkeley Earth has not addressed issues of the tree ring and proxy data, climate model accuracy, or human attribution.” This is a reasonable statement, but comes across very differently from the WSJ editorial.

Oct 30, 2011 at 9:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobin Guenier

Shub

Rose's comment is interesting. If I said this to you:

You will recall you said one other thing that was quite important and interesting that you asked me not to print, and I have honoured that request.

Anyhow, I hope we aren’t going to fall out over this. I enjoyed talking to you and I applaud your honesty in speaking out.

Would you read it as a thinly-veiled threat?

Oct 30, 2011 at 10:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Would you read it as a thinly-veiled threat?

Of course not. Coming from a journalist, it's a way of saying "I have done nothing untoward in this story, even if I had the possibility. Let's keep the channel open".

Oct 30, 2011 at 10:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio Morabito

Maurizio

I didn't have you down as naive and trusting. One lives and learns.

Oct 30, 2011 at 11:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Au contraire BBD...you're obviously unfamiliar with the profession.

There is no need of thinly-veiled threats of anything. The subject of the story is actually an object, and no self-respecting cat will ever issue "veiled threats" to a mouse.

Oct 30, 2011 at 11:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio Morabito

BBD, Add me to the list of naive and trusting. I agree with Maurizio.

Oct 30, 2011 at 11:30 PM | Unregistered Commenterj ferguson

BBD,
I have stuff with me that could potentially be very damaging to individuals in the consensus side. But I keep my silence. It sounds more like someone who wants to prove their own discretion rather than issue threats.

Oct 30, 2011 at 11:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub

Shub

I have stuff with me that could potentially be very damaging to individuals in the consensus side. But I keep my silence.

Now that is interesting. Why give succour to the enemy?

Surely the best tactic would be: publish, and be damned?

Oct 30, 2011 at 11:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Maurizio

Just for fun:

Au contraire BBD...you're obviously unfamiliar with the profession.

There is no need of for thinly-veiled threats. of anything. The subject of the story is actually an the object., and no No self-respecting cat will would ever issue "veiled threats" veiled threats to a mouse.

Oct 31, 2011 at 12:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Three blind mice.
Three blind mice.
See how they run.
See how they run.
They all ran after the farmer's wife,
She cut off their tails with a carving knife.
Have you ever seen such a sight in your life
As three blind mice?
===============

Oct 31, 2011 at 2:39 AM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Maurizio

I didn't have you down as naive and trusting. One lives and learns.

And I didn't have you down as someone who learns but as someone who seeks to sow division wherever they can. I haven't changed in that opinion but your interjection

Would you read it as a thinly-veiled threat?

just as Rose and Curry start to make up made it rather obvious than usual.

Oct 31, 2011 at 6:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Judith Curry has posted an account of her very recent 90 minute face-to-face meeting with Muller; they are friends again and Judith and trusts him again and says so loud and clear in her account of that meeting. But I feel and think that Muller has charmed his way out of a tricky position, at least in Judith's eyes. My very unscientific opinion is that she has bought Muller's snake oil, again, and will rue investing her trust in him, just as others, including Anthony Watts, have rued their trust in Muller.

Oct 31, 2011 at 6:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

Alexander K certainly sums up a loud and vocal portion of the CAGW community very well:


Judith Curry has posted an account of her very recent 90 minute face-to-face meeting with Muller; they are friends again and Judith and trusts him again and says so loud and clear in her account of that meeting. But I feel and think that Muller has charmed his way out of a tricky position, at least in Judith's eyes. My very unscientific opinion is that she has bought Muller's snake oil, again, and will rue investing her trust in him, just as others, including Anthony Watts, have rued their trust in Muller.

Is that once bitten, twice shy? OR thrice bitten, triply shy?

In the latter case, I'm thinking of how the US National Climate Data Center (or was it HCDN?) scientists appropriated Watts work WITHOUT attribution and simply coopted surfacestations.org's work for their own - risibly only to make themselves good instead of who they really were: lazy, stupid, and then dishonest!

There are large resentments against AGW orthodoxy, its establishment hubris and entitlement, and those who ally themselves with them, among the CAGW skeptics. And it i earned.

However, I am reminded of Richard Lindzen's wise implied counsel from his 2008 ERICE Seminars paper, and suggested by its title, "Climate Science: Is it currently designed to answer questions?"
http://motls.blogspot.com/2008/09/richard-lindzen-climate-science-is-it.html
That is, is it capable of making genuine scientific PROGRESS? Or not?

Lindzen argues no, not without change. And like it or not, "snake" or not -- Muller' BEST outfit has been the closest to real, substantive, transparent (if very flawed) independent project to rectify a huge, sad and declining part of climate science (ie, the record of surface temperatures), with the potential to rescue it from hacks, wolves, opportunists, and partisan zealots.

So as flawed as Muller may be -- an opportunist and hack he may be! -- to move FORWARD, however flawed the messenger are, THIS is a skeptic win.

Therefore, unlike many, I w\see the alliances crafted by Curry and Steve McIntyre to BEST as potential skeptic wins -- unlike Watts, Keenan, Eschenbach, et al.

There is a good and proper time for carping, and there is a necessary time and place to air substantive and vocal criticism. My first counting up of the optimism-score comes with Curry's Daily Mail fallout -- I expected some genuine dissent from her eventually, but no so soon! My second comes with all the fast-paced often enough side-sourced replication attempts of BEST data and charts to test Muller's announced findings.

The transparent and online advances of BEST can be credited with moving debate and controversy forward from many months to weeks. As the Popperians of science know, rapid detection error and airing of criticism is the first and second steps to doing SUCCESSFUL science. This is facilitated by the internet, something not possible to gentrified and corrupt old institutions like the now ancient IPCC Process.

THANK YOU, friends of Truth-seeking and honesty.

Now, clearly, Curry may well be mollified by cultivated pearls tossed before swine (Muller?), simply inflaming the peanut galleries amongst us. But I am interested in genuine scientific progress, not whining. I'm willing to suspend judgment for a time in the hope that constructive criticism will win out sooner, not later.

The most helpful move I can imagine to redeem BESTs ambitions would be to add at least one critical and respected (if marginalized by CAGW orthodoxy) but eminent climatologist to BESTs team. I'm thinking of that great fence sitter but our greatest expert on the notorious LUC/UHI problem, Roger A. Pielke, Sr.

OTHER ideas and nominations, please?

I mean Curry's cause is slaying the "certainty monster" too stupidly delivered, and LUC/UHI is the greatest "source coding" problem -- hence I see him as the most respected outsider professionally positioned to solve the latter. Who challenges my nomination?

Oct 31, 2011 at 7:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterOrson

Richard Drake

And I didn't have you down as someone who learns but as someone who seeks to sow division wherever they can.

I think you should flesh this out a bit. Examples would be helpful. Or you could apologise for the mischaracterisation and withdraw it.

Oct 31, 2011 at 8:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Orson

You mention the 'UHI problem'.

What UHI problem? It has been clearly established that UHI is an energetically insignificant (climatologically negligible), localised surface boundary layer effect.

In short, it is a non-argument. What is the purpose of pursuing non-arguments if you seek to maintain credibility?

Oct 31, 2011 at 8:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

kim

I often wonder what in God's name you are on about. Might I suggest direct engagement in simple language?

Or would that require knowledge and debating skills that you lack?

Oct 31, 2011 at 8:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

"UHI is an energetically insignificant (climatologically negligible), localised surface boundary layer effect"

But surely it's not the 'effect on the climate' that is problematic - it's the inclusion of the artificially raised measurements in the data sets?

Oct 31, 2011 at 9:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Shub

You have gone uncharacteristically quiet.

Are you going to publish - and be damned?

Today's a good a day as any. Let's see your cards.

Oct 31, 2011 at 9:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

BBD

I almost always wonder; good that.

Oct 31, 2011 at 9:05 AM | Unregistered Commentermrsean2k

James P

But surely it's not the 'effect on the climate' that is problematic - it's the inclusion of the artificially raised measurements in the data sets?

Then explain why the 14,000ft/600mb lower tropospheric temperature as measured by satellite is in very close agreement with the surface temperature records.

Monthly, annual, inter-annual and decadal variation are almost in lock-step.

If the surface temperature records were corrupt, this would not happen. Unless UHI can directly heat the troposphere at 14,000 ft. Which it cannot.

Why are we even talking about this after BEST has debunked this always-weak argument? As I said above, why flog on with a non-argument if you wish to be taken seriously?

Likewise, why would any serious sceptic continue to allege that the surface temperature records are 'wrong' now that BEST has released its data. Everywhere I hear sceptics saying 'we don't dispute that the climate is warming' (although many did, for years). But the current position is to create uncertainty over attribution, rather than over detection. Keep up or you will get left behind ;-)

http://woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1979/offset:-0.26/plot/gistemp/from:1979/offset:-0.35/plot/uah/plot/rss/offset:-0.1/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1979/offset:-0.26/trend/plot/gistemp/from:1979/offset:-0.35/trend/plot/uah/trend/plot/rss/offset/-0.1/trend">HADCRUT, GISTEMP, UAH, RSS. 1979 – present; common 1981 – 2010 baseline; trend

Oct 31, 2011 at 9:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterBBD
Oct 31, 2011 at 9:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

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