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« Stringer on climate and MMR | Main | Quote of the day »

More splicing, more hiding the decline

I'm grateful to a reader for this excerpt from The Hot Topic: How To Tackle Climate Change and Still Keep the Lights On, a book by King and Walker published in 2008.

King is Sir David King, the former government chief scientist who is now what you might call one of the great and the good. Here's Wikipedia's take on his current positions:

Director of the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at the University of Oxford, Director of Research in Physical Chemistry at the University of Cambridge, Director of the Collegio Carlo Alberto, Chancellor of the University of Liverpool and a senior scientific adviser to UBS.

Gabrielle Walker is "a freelance writer, broadcaster and speaker specialising in energy and climate change. She presents flagship BBC radio programmes and has made many TV appearances".

The excerpt is about global temperature history - what else - and shows a spaghetti graph.  Here it is:

Notice anything odd? Of course you do: the Briffa series has been truncated at 1960 (this looks similar to the end-padded version of the Trick that was used by the IPCC in the Fourth Assessment Report). Here's a blow-up just to make it all clear...

But there's something else odd about the series shown. Take a look at the one with the very sharp uptick at the right hand end. That's normally the instrumental temperature, isn't it? But now follow it back towards the left. It seems to keep right on going back past the beginning of the instrumental record to...well, let's take a look. If you click on the first chart above it will give you a full-size blowup. If you examine this, you will see that the series goes right back to AD 1000.

The source of this data is given as PD Jones, TJ Osborn and KR Briffa, The evolution of climate over the last millennium, Science 2001; 292(5517): 662-7. Let's take a look at that source shall we? Here it is:


The caption reads:

Fig 2A: Northern Hemisphere surface temperature anomalies (°C) relative to the 1961-1990 mean (dotted line). Annual mean land and marine temperatures from instrumental observations (black 1856-1999)...and estimated by Mann et al (red 1000-1980)...and Crowley and Lowery (orange, 1000-1987). April to September mean temperature from land north of 20°N estimated by Briffa et al (green 1402-1960) and estimated by recalibrating (blue, 1000-1991) the Jones et al Northern Hemisphere summer temperature estimate. All series have been smoothed with a 30-year Gaussian weighted filter.

As we can see, the Briffa series was truncated in the original, so King and Walker appear blameless for hiding the decline - that was down to the CRU team. But what about the instrumental record? Regrettably, there is a crucial difference between Jones' paper and the King and Walker book. Here's the twentieth century sections of both graphs side by side, so you can see what was done:

As far as I can tell, in the King and Walker book the Hockey Stick - the red series from the Science paper - appears to have become conjoined with the instrumental record with a smoothing to hide the join.


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Reader Comments (72)

Lies, damn lies and climatologists graphs....what wont they do to keep the show on the road.

Mar 13, 2011 at 7:47 PM | Unregistered Commenterconfused

Why do you keep banging on about minor imperfections in the graphics, don't you realise that it's the narrative (Ref Schneider) that matters?


Mar 13, 2011 at 7:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterArthur Dent

She's certainly been around though I give her that. Not to many places though where she could possibly get a balanced view of the subject. 'Climate change editor at Nature'..'Features editor at New Scientist' and 'broadcaster at the BBC'. All places where critical thinking is of 'paramount importance'.

Mar 13, 2011 at 7:55 PM | Unregistered Commenterconfused

Hmm. So the only real problem with evidence-driven energy policy is the policy-driven evidence.

Mar 13, 2011 at 8:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterTufty

Dear Bish,
Me and the missus were just looking at the graph. The joining of the red and the black graphs appears to be done at around the 1850 period.

Mar 13, 2011 at 8:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub

Well it would appear that King and Walker are to do a 'Tackle Global Warming and Still Keep the Lights On' show at the National Theatre on Monday April 11th.


This would appear to be an attempt at balance because Nigel Lawson is appearing the week before presenting: An Appeal to Reason: A Cool Look at Global Warming


Mar 13, 2011 at 8:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

"All series have been smoothed with a 30-year Gaussian weighted filter."

In the normal course of events, a 30-year symmetric filter will not produce a value for the final 15 years, nor the first 15 years, of a record. Why, then, do Jones's 2001 curves go all the way to 2000 (or to the respective ends of the records)?

Mar 13, 2011 at 8:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterHaroldW

A review

The King of ‘Climate Porn’ A new book by David King, the UK government’s former chief scientific adviser, sheds more heat than light on the global warming debate.

Mar 13, 2011 at 8:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

@Mac (Mar 13, 2011 at 8:35 PM) --
Your links aren't quite right -- you need to strike the "em"s. De-emphasise them, one might say.

Mar 13, 2011 at 8:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterHaroldW

University chancellors / ex top civil servants are not supposed to do things like that. The National Theatre events mentioned by Mac above look like ideal opportunities for someone from the floor to call a lie a lie, a fraud a fraud. Given the absence of political or media interest in uncovering the truth, only a good libel action will get this the attention it deserves.

Mar 13, 2011 at 8:49 PM | Unregistered Commentergeoffchambers

To me it looks as if the red curve has been wholly omitted - leaving the black curve underneath.

Mar 13, 2011 at 9:00 PM | Unregistered Commentermatthu


Note that the red graph sticks out past the black in about 1975

Mar 13, 2011 at 9:03 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill


I think you may be right up to a point. The splice looks like it's at 1850 rather than where I thought it was.

Mar 13, 2011 at 9:34 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

As the black curve (instrumental temperatures) is claimed in the Jones caption to start in 1856, it's a fair bet that the red/black curves are spliced there, with the red curve from 1856 to present removed.

Mar 13, 2011 at 9:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterHaroldW


Worthy of Hansard.

Mar 13, 2011 at 10:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos


I've added an update to this effect.

Mar 13, 2011 at 10:17 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

And this is "science"? Enough to make me sick.

Mar 13, 2011 at 10:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Sub-prime advice for UBS?

Mar 13, 2011 at 10:37 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

Ugh, what a charlatan King is.

He showed off his scientific rigor in the famous CO2-bottle Newsnight experiment:, along with allegations about the clandestine tapping of CRU cellphones. Strangely, despite the presence of Newsnight journalists a plenty, this particular accusation (made 'for the first time in public' King said in the broadcast) has not been followed up on.

Mar 13, 2011 at 10:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

The Delingpole 'Booker' anecdote

Mar 13, 2011 at 11:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

Thanks for the link, I hadn't seen that video before, nor heard the claim that the Climategate hack included mobile phone conversations. The claim that this is "extraordinarily sophisticated" work led him to state that the release was the work of a foreign intelligence agency.

From this Telegraph article:

In his [King's] interview, he added that the American lobby system was a "very likely source of finance" for the hack and that "the finger must point to them."

Mar 13, 2011 at 11:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterHaroldW

Here's a quick trick if you have a graphics program. To compare two graphs, make them objects and resample them to identical dimensions. If they are in colour, use the "invert" button on one of them. Then use the transparency slider and make it 50% transparent. Next, overlay the semi-transparent object over the other and bring them into exact alignment by toggling the up/down/left/right keyboard buttons.

It's like putting as negative slide over a positive paper print of it. If all matches perfectly, you get a single uniform grey result. If anything was altered, it sticks out like d's bs.

quick mockup synthetic example:

Mar 14, 2011 at 1:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeoff Sherrington

What does it matter if there's a bit of fiddling with curves? Try 1123513957.txt an email that ends with "Take you pick, Peck." Very droll.

Then there's 1167752455.txt

It ends "The IPCC Scientific Assessment (Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, 1990)."
But I had nothing to do with that one!
So, that's how a crude fax from Jack Eddy became the definitive IPCC record on the last
Happy New Year to everyone

For a trifecta, try looking at the hottest year efforts at 1169653761.txt
This includes
I have attached updated versions of the diagrams so that you can see
where the 2006 bars and dots should be moved to.

Mar 14, 2011 at 2:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeoff Sherrington

This is excellent.

Climategate 'hide the decline' explained by Berkeley professor Richard A. Muller

Mar 14, 2011 at 5:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterE Smith

@This is excellent.

It is indeed, most excellent. Many thanks!

Mar 14, 2011 at 6:49 AM | Unregistered Commenterqwerty

This isn't science; this is "climate science". Yet another example of a lie from the great and good. Is there no depth to which they will not stoop?

Mar 14, 2011 at 7:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Hmmm. Should Philip Bratby declare an interest? Sounds like an M&S advert to me.

Mar 14, 2011 at 8:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterIan UK

So we can expect a comment by this reviewer?

Times: The Hot Topic: How to Tackle Global Warming and Still Keep the Lights On by Gabrielle Walker and David King

Apparently we are are all on Planet Exxon...

It does no harm to have an endorsement from Al Gore ...

Insofar as the science is concerned, the battle is won and the opposition reduced, as Walker and King put it, to “vested interests or fools”, who won’t be queuing to read this exposure of their stupidity.

With the clarity that Gore rightly commends, they do a fine job of setting out the issues. If you’ve got a climate sceptic to deal with, you’ll find all the ammunition you need to puncture his certainties.

That he stood his ground, and has said what he means with such lucidity, is a material gain for the axis of good.

They dismiss arguments that it was warmer in the Middle Ages than today (“temperatures are higher now than they have been for at least 1,000 years”, they insist)

Mar 14, 2011 at 9:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

Isn't this just standard scientific practice in climate sciencer, as accepted by the IPCC?

Mar 14, 2011 at 9:26 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charley

the climategate 'Hide the decline' shown in a graphic here ( as shown in the muller video)

Mar 14, 2011 at 9:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

So how do we keep the lights on? Fairy dust?

Mar 14, 2011 at 10:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

O/t Bishop, please indulge me yet again.


Acts of God v man induced weather conditions; i.e. increased CO2 in the atmosphere leading to and causing more flooding disasters, more snow disasters, more rain disasters, more….well just more disasters. If you believe the alarmists that is!

How many times have you heard of Insurance Companies blaming “Acts of God” on weather induced disasters and using this as a defence to avoid paying out on claims?

Now that man made increased levels of CO2 are causing, more floods, more snow disasters, more heat wave disasters, more Japanese earthquakes and tsunami, more this and more that disasters (according to alarmists), would I be correct in saying that no longer can these Insurance Companies avoid paying out on claims as everything can be blamed on increased levels of CO2 which has clearly been caused by mankind?

Mar 14, 2011 at 11:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterRETEPHSLAW

I was watching Countryfile (Blue Peter for adults) last night. A geologist was taking samples along the eroding Essex coastline and was talking about the remains of animals found during previous warm and cold periods and made the most wonderful comment that we have had periods of warmer climate which last about 10,000 years and that we are at about year 10,000 in a warm period at the moment. Halleluja!! AND there was NO comment from Matt Baker or any mention about climate change/global warming.

Mar 14, 2011 at 11:27 AM | Unregistered Commenterbiddyb

"The source of this data is given as PD Jones, TJ Osborn and KR Briffa"

When I was as an undergraduate at UEA Environmental Sciences, I needed a half-unit to complete my degree. No proper science options were available, so I took TJ (Tim) Osborns' policy half-unit. Lightweight would be an overstatement. Sorry Tim, nice guy, but you wasted my time. I'm not surprised to see you as a sleeper with the other deadwood.

Mar 14, 2011 at 11:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterHector Pascal

When King started making accusations that Climategate was the work of a foreign intelligence service and hinted rather heavily that it was the Soviets, suddenly a hitherto obscure research institute exposed the cherry picking that had been done by CRU on the Russian temperature stations. It was a classic bit of Kremlin communication; We've got dirt on you so steer the blame elsewhere. That was the end of blaming the Russians ...


Mar 14, 2011 at 11:29 AM | Unregistered Commenterpointman

King has form with the Russians, so it's likely he'd want to blame them for Climategate. Barking:

"Andrei Illarionov, former chief science adviser to President Putin:

… in respect to the presentation made by representatives of the so-called official team of the British government and the official British climate science, or at least how they introduced themselves at the seminar. I personally was surprised by the exceptionally poor content of the papers presented…
Simultaneously, they revealed an absolute—and I stress, absolute inability to answer questions concerning the alleged professional activities of the authors of these papers. Not only the ten questions that were published nine months ago, but not a single question asked during this two-day seminar by participants in the seminar, both Russian and foreign, were answered.

When it became clear that they could not provide a substantive answer to a question, three devices were used… The British participants insisted on introducing censorship during the holding of this seminar. The chief science adviser to the British government, Mr. King, demanded in the form of an ultimatum at the beginning of yesterday that the program of the seminar be changed and he presented an ultimatum demanding that about two-third of the participants not be given the floor.

The participants in the seminar who had been invited by the Russian Academy of Sciences, they have been invited by the president of the Academy of Sciences Yuri Sergeyevich Osipov. Mr. King spoke about “undesirable” scientists and undesirable participants in the seminar. He declared that if the old program is preserved, he would not take part in the seminar and walk out taking along with him all the other British participants.

He has prepared his own program which he proposed, it is available here and my colleagues can simply distribute Mr. King’s hand-written program to change the program prepared by the Russian Academy of Sciences and sent out in advance to all the participants in the seminar.

A comparison of the real program prepared by the Academy of Science and the program proposed as an ultimatum by Mr. King will give us an idea of what scientists, from the viewpoint of the chief scientific adviser to the British government, are undesirable. In the course of negotiations on this issue Mr. King said that he had contacted the British Foreign Secretary Mr. Straw who was in Moscow at the time and with the office of the British Prime Minister, Blair, so that the corresponding executives in Britain should contact the corresponding officials in Russia to bring pressure on the Russian Academy of Sciences and the President of the Russian Academy of Sciences to change the seminar’s program.

When the attempt to introduce censorship at the Russian Academy of Sciences failed, other attempts were made to disrupt the seminar. At least four times during the course of the seminar ugly scenes were staged that prevented the seminar from proceeding normally. As a result we lost at least four hours of working time in order to try to solve these problems.

During these events Mr. King cited his conversations with the office of the British Prime Minister and had got clearance for such actions.

And thirdly, when the more or less normal work of the seminar was restored and when the opportunity for discussion presented itself, when questions on professional topics were asked, and being unable to answer these questions, Mr. King and other members of the delegation, turned to flight, as happened this morning when Mr. King, in an unprecedented incident, cut short his answer to a question in mid sentence realizing that he was unable to answer it and left the seminar room. It is not for us to give an assessment to what happened, but in our opinion the reputation of British science, the reputation of the British government and the reputation of the title “Sir” has sustained heavy damage."

Mar 14, 2011 at 11:59 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

AR4 does not make use of hide the decline instrumental and padding. I think it uses a different visual trick of just having all the proxies disappear under the instrumental record.

TAR was accused by Steve McIntyre of doing so, but this has been disputed by Deep Climate, with UC appearing in that DC thread.

Mar 14, 2011 at 12:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeN


I don't think you are right. AFAIK it was AR3 where Briffa's series disappeared under the other proxies. The WMO report spliced instrumental series. AR4 truncated and endpoint padded with instrumental.

Mar 14, 2011 at 12:48 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

geronimo - thanks for posting that - I had forgotten King's attempted hijacking of the Academy of Russian Sciences conference. What an embarrassment to science and to the UK.

Just tried to find a link for more info on the above, and found this - an excellent collation of quotes from the good and bad guys of climate science:

Another King classic is listed near the top of the bad guys list:

“Antarctica is likely to be the world's only habitable continent by the end of this century if global warming remains unchecked.”
Professor Sir David King, Government chief scientist;
The Independent, 2 May 2004.

As it is currently -60C on the plateau ( ) I assume he wants us all to move to the peninsula. But having just re-read the section on Elephant Island in Shackleton's South, I don't like the sound of that very much. We have just had 5 days of snow in Scotland, and it is still lying. I'd rather stay here and enjoy the much hyped extra 2C of warming.

Mar 14, 2011 at 1:11 PM | Unregistered Commenterlapogus

I also watched Countryfile last evening and was also surprised when the scientist outlined heating and cooling eras the planet has experienced, Matt Baker did not insert a single word about Global Whatever as all the presenters employed by this otherwise excellent programme are usually wont to do. Does the show have new writers?
Everything I have read of Sir David King suggests a spectacular arrogance and wrongheadedness. I could be quite wrong about this, but the evidence so far reinforces my personal opinion.

Mar 14, 2011 at 1:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

"I had forgotten King's attempted hijacking of the Academy of Russian Sciences conference."

Me too. Apart from anything else, he clearly has no manners!

Mar 14, 2011 at 2:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Don't forget David King's disapproval of hot girls being attracted to racing car drivers, see CA here

Mar 14, 2011 at 2:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve McIntyre

Time for someone to take a careful look at the graphs in King's research work from the 1970s. His powerful flights of fancy (instrumental records which extend for 1000 years and Russian cellphone hackers) have a habit of becoming facts in his publications. Hopefully Oxford and Cambridge would not want to have King's meddling mendacity documented by others, they need to get in front of this.

Mar 14, 2011 at 2:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

@lapogus: Oh there's more. What David King said

“Fifty-five million years ago was a time when there was no ice on the earth; the Antarctic was the most habitable place for mammals, because it was the coolest place, and the rest of the earth was rather inhabitable because it was so hot. It is estimated that it [the carbon dioxide level] was roughly 1,000 parts per million then, and the important thing is that if we carry on business as usual we will hit 1,000 parts per million around the end of the century.”

Sir David King, Chief Scientific Adviser"

What the text books said:

"The Eocene global climate was perhaps the most homogeneous of the Cenozoic; the temperature gradient from equator to pole was only half that of today’s, and deep ocean currents were exceptionally warm. The polar regions were much warmer than today, perhaps as mild as the modern-day Pacific Northwest; temperate forests extended right to the poles, while rainy tropical climates extended as far north as 45°. The difference was greatest in the temperate latitudes; the climate in the tropics however, was probably similar to today’s."

Stanley, Steven M. Earth System History. New York: W.H. Freeman and Company, 1999. ISBN 0-7167-2882-6.

Mar 14, 2011 at 4:21 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Was this the person that allege that the ‘hack’, which in fact was a leak, was somehow related to the Russians a fact he was very sure off although he had no evidenced for the claim at all?

If so I think you can judge the quality of his work by his own approach, ‘I know its true because I think its so ‘ a very unscientific approach.

Mar 14, 2011 at 4:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

It is interesting to note that there are more scientists alive today than the sum of all dead scientists. As three B grades at A level will get you onto a Climatology course, are we not perhaps spreading the net a bit wide?

Mar 14, 2011 at 7:15 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth


"As three B grades at A level will get you onto a Climatology course, are we not perhaps spreading the net a bit wide?"

Yes, that's a large part of the problem. There's a reason UEA (or Norfolk Poly, as it used to be known) got the CRU - both the field of study and the university were considered academic backwaters for nonentities, time-servers, scientific hacks at the time when CRU was set up and the current 'leading' climate scientists got into the field. The Team are largely made up of those who weren't very clever or good at science, which is why they ended up doing CliSci in the first place. Since then, of course, almost anyone clever enough to see the problems in their logic and methods has been kicked off the courses they now run.

This is why I've never really believed there is much malice involved in all the nonsense we see. The options are either malice or stupidity, and it's so plainly stupidity. I'd bet good money that if we investigated any other aspect of the Team's lives- say their tax returns, or their household insurance purchases - we'd see the same incompetence there.

Mar 14, 2011 at 8:12 PM | Unregistered Commenterdave

Dave: "UEA (or Norfolk Poly, as it used to be known)"

Nope. UEA was never Norfolk Poly in a previous life. Rather it was one of the "New Universities" created de novo in the 1960s (Sussex and Warwick are other examples).

Mar 14, 2011 at 8:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterJane Coles

When I filled out my five university choices on the UCCA form in 1981, which you had to put in order of preference, I picked my first 4 on the quality of the course (and their proximity to rock climbing). I then added University of East Anglia as it had ridiculously low entry grades (and clearly is not an ideal location to pursue a hobby in rock climbing!). Ie UEA was the "fall back" choice in case my A level results were a disaster. I recall that they offered me entry to a BSc Honours science course with just two E grades at A level, including one of them in general studies ie just one science A level E grade plus E in general studies would have got me in. (I took three sciences, but my school required all sixth formers to take general studies as well).

I made my anticipated grades and went to my first choice university. It was great and so was the rock climbing.

Mar 14, 2011 at 9:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterThinkingScientist

Here's "Hide the Decline"

He won't read any more Papers from any of the Crew . . . because they can't be trusted to do science.

Mar 14, 2011 at 9:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterFred from Canuckistan

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