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Entries in Climate: MWP (145)


What's up with El Reg?

A few days back The Conversation published a moderately dull article about paleoclimate, written by a couple of postdocs at Bristol. Its title kind of gave the game away up front:

The last time Earth was this hot hippos lived in Britain (that’s 130,000 years ago)

This introduced a temperature reconstruction that had been bodged together by an author at Wikimedia. It all seemed fairly pitiful to me, and hardly worth the bother, although I wondered for a time about whether I could get an easy laugh by noting that the authors had cited approvingly Michael Mann's 2008 carcrash paper:

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Xing's bendy hockey stick

You wait for ages for a hockey stick to turn up and suddenly two turn up at once. Hot on the heels of the Wilson et al temperature reconstruction comes Xing et al, a new effort from a Chinese team. In their figure, shown below, it's the blue line we're interested in. In truth it's a pretty bendy hockey stick.

A few thoughts and observations based on a skim of the paper:

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Diary dates, tree rings edition


Wilson trending

Rob Wilson emails a copy of his new paper (£)in QSR, co-authored with, well, just about everybody in the dendro community. It's a tree-ring based temperature reconstruction of summer temperatures in the northern hemisphere, it's called N-TREND and excitingly it's a hockey stick!

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The same old story



The Times does climate

Respected professor, or international laughing stock?The Times has a trio of articles on climate this morning, from Mark Lynas, from Matt Ridley, and from science editor Tom Whipple. Matt Ridley is doing the good news on global warming, Lynas is doing the "right wing people must do as I say" thing. But it was Whipple's piece that caught my eye. This was because he opened by shooting himself smack bang in the middle of his foot. As a way of getting attention this is hard to beat.

He achieved this feat of public relations when he described a Royal Society meeting and

...a talk by a respected professor who expected the summer collapse of Arctic ice before 2020. The problem, for those listening, was that this same professor had previously given different dates — 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016.

Yes folks, he means Peter Wadhams, who I think it's fair to say is not actually much respected at all - he is actually seen by both sides of the climate debate as a bit of a noodle. Whipple does seem to have cottoned on to the fact that Wadhams was wildly wrong, but he seems to be under the impression that he will be right in the near future. I'm not sure how convincing this is.

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More Appell comedy gold

The climate change world has, I think it's fair to say, been a little quiet recently, but thank goodness we have David Appell around to provide entertainment.

In his latest offering he announces a "long and useful list of studies that find a hockey stick from reconstructions of paleoclimate data".

Sounds interesting. Here's one of them.

I have to say, an ice hockey team armed with sticks shaped like that would be a sight to behold.



Away with the fairies

Journalist David Appell appears a couple of times in The Hockey Stick Illusion, firstly in Chapter 4, in the section entitled "Mann's mouthpiece", where he is the source (if perhaps not the ultimate source) of the (false) claim that Mann sent McIntyre an Excel spreadsheet. It's worth reading again if you have a moment.

Anyway, in the wake of Mark Steyn's book on Michael Mann, Appell has written to Jonathan Jones enquiring about the latter's comments on the Hockey Stick and the results have been written up in a blog post here. It's hilarious.

For example, Jones observes that bristlecones are not reliable temperature proxies and that principal components analysis requires data to be centred, before following up with similar scientific objections to a couple of other papers that Appell has cited in support of Mann. Appell's response to all of these objections is, in total:

This is clearly just a lot of hand-waving.

Read the rest of it too. The guy is away with the fairies.


Mann caught out again

Steve McIntyre reports that Michael Mann has been caught out grafting the thermometer records onto proxy data, something he claims that only happens in the fevered minds of evil-big-oil-funded-gaia-maiming deniers.




Sliding science

Matt Ridley has one of those pieces in the Times that is just going to get Bob Ward's blood boiling. He covers the scandal over the neonicotinoid "research", the Met Office's claims about record temperatures and the revelations over the Sheep Mountain data, wrapping them all up in a sorry tale of scientists dropping their standards in the endless search for money and relevance.

The overwhelming majority of scientists do excellent, objective work, following the evidence wherever it leads. Science remains (in my view) our most treasured cultural achievement, bar none. Most of its astonishing insights into life, the universe and everything are beyond reproach and beyond compare. All the more reason to be less tolerant of those who let their motivated reasoning distort data or the presentation of data. It’s hard for champions of science, like me, to make our case against creationists, homeopaths and other merchants of mysticism if some of those within science also practise pseudoscience.

In all the millions of scientific careers in Britain over the past few decades, outside medical science there has never been a case of a scientist convicted of malpractice. Not one. Maybe that is because – unlike the police, the church and politics – scientists are all pure as the driven snow. Or maybe it is because science as an institution, like so many other institutions, does not police itself properly.

It's paywalled, but well worth it if you have access.


Tree ring proxies RIP

Well, well. Look what Steve McIntyre has found. After all those years of sceptics calling for tree-ring series to be updated so as to provide out-of-sample validation of their effectiveness as proxies, and all those years of mainstream climatologists telling us how this couldn't happen because of the cost and difficulty, one of the key series in the Hockey Stick and many other temperature reconstructions has finally been brought up to date.

The series in question is Sheep Mountain, prominently featured in The Hockey Stick Illusion as having a hockey stick shape, the blade of the stick allegedly tracking the rise in northern hemisphere temperatures up to 1980, the end of the Hockey Stick reconstruction. Since 1980 we had another 18 years of temperature rises followed by a decade and a half of the pause.

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Hayhoe's temperature reconstruction

Tom Nelson pointed out this interesting temperature reconstruction, sourced from Katharine Hayhoe's new book. I thought it might be the Marcott paper, but a direct comparison suggests not. I wonder where it comes from?


Manns rea?

Things seem to be hotting up on the Michael Mann front, not least because Steve McIntyre seems to have returned to blogging with a vengeance, assisted as always by his trusty band of followers. Today, the climate auditors have turned up another rather embarrassing problem with Michael Mann's legal submission. This document claims that Mann had nothing to do with the infamous cover graphic for the WMO report of 1999, of hide the decline notoriety. Unfortunately, the claim is directly contradicted by Mann's own CV.

I found myself thinking about another of Mann's claims this morning. This was prompted by a comment on David Friedman's blog about Mann's claim in MBH98 that he had used "conventional" principal components analysis. The author of the comment wondered if this could in fact be true. But readers of the Hockey Stick Illusion will recall that the claim of "conventional" was actually only made about Mann's processing of temperature data. Regarding the tree ring data we were only led to understand that PCA had been used.

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Paleoclimate, the movie

America's PBS has commissioned a documentary about paleoclimate science which will air at various times over the next few months depending on where you live. Entitled Taking Earth's Temperature, it features lots of familiar names, including Jonathan Overpeck (will he discuss getting rid of the medieval warm period?), Caspar Ammann (will he talk about Monte Carlo analysis?), Darrell Kaufman (will he be the right way up?), Bette Otto-Bleisner and Thomas Stocker.

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Thingummydoodle noodle

Brandon Shollenberger has a lovely post up looking at some recent comments by Skeptical Science insider Tom Curtis and Anders Thingummydoodle from the "And Then There's Physics" blog. Readers will remember Anders as the chap who berated me about one of my posts on Doug Keenan's work, saying that it was a physical model you needed in order to understand what was causing global warming. This despite my having said almost precisely that in the blog post.

Anyway, Anders has been sounding off about the Hockey Stick, accusing McIntyre and McKitrick of all manner of sins and demonstrating in the process that he has absolutely no idea of how Mann got from his raw data through to his final reconstruction. His allegations are therefore completely and utterly wrong.

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