Open Mind

Not Alike

October 19, 2007 · 198 Comments

A reader has suggested that modern warming, and the “medieval warm period” (MWP), are alike. In fact he states:

What you need to show, to keep your position logical, is that there is some difference between MWP and present day warming other than the hypothesized cause. Because the hypothesized cause is what is up for examination.

You need to show that either in amount of warming, geographical spread or something else, the two are quite different. Otherwise, the argument similar effects similar causes is very strong.

I strongly disagree; the argument “similar effects similar causes” is very weak. But let’s compare modern warming to the MWP anyway.


Rather than examining the temperature reconstruction of Mann, Bradley, & Hughes (the classic “hockey stick,” which the reader suggests is untrustworthy) or the later reconstruction of Mann & Jones, I’ll look at the reconstruction of Moberg et al. (2005, Highly variable Northern Hemisphere temperatures reconstructed from low- and high-resolution proxy data, Nature, 443, 613-617, doi:10.1038/nature03265), because it shows a much stronger MWP (and “little ice age,” or LIA) than any other reconstruction I’ve got. I guess that’s why they call it “highly variable.” Also, it conveniently spans the entire time period from year 1 to 1979, so we’ll have the medieval period “covered.”

moberg05.jpg

Both the warmth of the MWP and coolness of the LIA are apparent. Moberg’s reconstruction is for northern hemisphere temperature only, and only goes to 1979, so to compare it to modern warming we’ll need more up-to-date northern hemisphere data. I’ll use data from GISS, but I can’t use the GISS data as is because its “reference period” (for computing temperature anomaly) is 1951 to 1980, while the Moberg reconstruction uses a reference period 1961 to 1990; that will make the GISS data seem too warm by comparison. But I can easily “cool” the GISS data by computing temperature anomaly relative to the reference period 1961 to 1990, and bring them onto the same scale:

mobgiss.jpg

We can already see a notable difference between modern warming and the MWP: modern temperatures are hotter. The warmest single year in the northern hemisphere is 2005, with temperature anomaly (relative to the 1961-1990 reference period) 0.90 deg.C, while the warmest single year in the Moberg reconstruction is 1105, at temperature anomaly 0.37 deg.C. So the warmest modern year is 0.53 deg.C hotter than the warmest medieval year, according to Moberg.

The eye suggests another possible difference: modern warming is steeper than medieval warming. The “modern global warming era” covers about the last 30 years. How does the modern warming rate compare to what was observed in medieval times?

I computed the rate of warming for every possible time span, from each year to 30 years later, in the Moberg reconstruction. The fastest warming occured from 867 to 897, at a rate of 0.0183 deg.C/yr. I also computed the rate for every similar-length time span in the thermometer record; the fastest warming is from 1976 to 2006 (which is the most recent, by the way, since 2007 isn’t over yet) at a rate of 0.0300 deg.C/yr. That’s quite a lot bigger than 0.0183; in fact it’s 64% bigger.

mwprate.jpg

modrate.jpg

So, modern warming has reached temperatures in the northern hemisphere which are 0.53 deg.C hotter than any in medieval times, and the modern warming rate is 64% greater than the fastest rate in medieval times. The biggest 30-year warming trend in medieval times amounted to 0.55 deg.C, while modern times have seen 0.9 deg.C warming over the same time span (again, 64% bigger). These differences are especially significant, because the Moberg reconstruction gives us nearly 2000 years to work with, so there are a lot more time spans to test, hence a lot more opportunities for the data to reach a greater extreme. Yet despite the vastly greater number of data points to test in the Moberg record, the hottest temperatures are occuring right now, and the fastest warming (by far) is occuring now. The conclusion is unavoidable: modern warming is NOT like the medieval warm period. Not even close.

Even if they were similar, the argument “similar effects similar causes” is very weak. But they aren’t. What do you think of the argument “different effects different causes”?

Categories: Global Warming · climate change

198 responses so far ↓

  • KM // October 19, 2007 at 12:53 pm

    Amazing post! Also, isnt the moberg and all other reconstructions that show a MWP and LIA very regional, i.e. only Northern Hemisphere? According to what i’ve read and understand, based on proxies worldwide (both northern & southern), there was no such thing as MWP and LIA in the southern hemisphere or on a worldwide scale, was there?

    [Response: I haven’t studied southern-hemisphere reconstructions, just northern-hemisphere and global ones. Unfortunately, there’s far less available data for southern-hemisphere studies than for the north.

    Every reconstruction I’ve looked at has a MWP and LIA, but in most (like the classic hockey-stick), they’re incredibly tiny. Moberg, however, shows a rather obvious MWP/LIA.]

  • cody // October 19, 2007 at 5:11 pm

    Thank you for this. This is exactly the plane on which one likes to conduct the argument. I will read, consider, and reply. But for now, a very nice post.

  • J // October 19, 2007 at 5:51 pm

    One question: Are both Moberg and GISTEMP referencing the same northern hemisphere? That sounds stupid, but I mean is it the full hemisphere, or extratropical (e.g., +30 to +90 degrees)?

    [Response: They’re the same. Some northern-hemisphere reconstructions (like Esper et al.) are extratropical, but not Moberg.]

  • nanny_govt_sucks // October 19, 2007 at 5:59 pm

    Rather than examining the temperature reconstruction of Mann, Bradley, & Hughes (the classic “hockey stick,” which the reader suggests is untrustworthy) or the later reconstruction of Mann & Jones, I’ll look at the reconstruction of Moberg et al. (2005, Highly variable Northern Hemisphere temperatures reconstructed from low- and high-resolution proxy data, Nature, 443, 613-617, doi:10.1038/nature03265)

    My understanding is that Moberg uses many of the same proxies (including the controversial Bristlecones) as the reconstructions that the poster suggested were untrustworthy. You may need to look elsewhere if you really want to make your point.

  • climateleeds // October 19, 2007 at 5:59 pm

    This is exactly the sort of data that many of us are seeking.

    I am assuming that the Moburg data is the stuff that was used in the Great Swindle (UK Channel 4) last year?

    Will link to you, if that is OK/

    [Response: I don’t know which reconstruction was used in the great swindle.]

  • Dano // October 19, 2007 at 6:07 pm

    many of the same proxies (including the controversial Bristlecones) as the reconstructions that the poster suggested were untrustworthy.

    Problem is, na_gs, anything that doesn’t comport with a certain ideology is “controversial”. Is it “controversial” in the literature? Among the folk who do that sort of thing for a living?

    Surely a blog entry and some real purty charts is good enough for some, but what about the 99.975% of decsion-maker’s staff who don’t read character assassination websites? How will this fabulous information get to them? Why, of course, in the journals. Come talk to us when the FabSteve publishes something for peer review.

    Best,

    D

  • Ian Hopkinson // October 19, 2007 at 6:27 pm

    climateleeds - I believe the TGGWS graph comes from the 1990 IPCC report. See here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MWP_and_LIA_in_IPCC_reports

    The original data appears to come from a chap called H.H. Lamb. I believe the original citation is:

    H. H. Lamb, 1965, Paleogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, vol. 1, pp. 13-37.

    …but I haven’t seen this paper. I understand the reconstruction is based on historical records and some proxies for central England. There’s a full publication list for H.H. Lamb here:

    http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/pubs/byauthor/lamb_hh.htm

    First entry 1939, last entry 1995!! Looks like he may have published more in the area post 1995

  • John Cross // October 19, 2007 at 7:09 pm

    Nanny, just to clarify, Moberg actually plots the low res data by itself so if people are really interested in seeing the difference they can look at Figure 2a.

    By the way, how is your reply coming? Still researching it?

    Regards,
    John

  • Ian Hopkinson // October 19, 2007 at 7:12 pm

    I meant to say post 1965 in the last sentence there…

  • Julian Flood // October 19, 2007 at 7:36 pm

    I’m puzzled by the start date: I thought global warming started in 1850ish. I’ve noticed that recent discussion of AGW is beginning to shift to the last thirty years. Is there some scientific reason for this? Some new study? Or, wicked thought, does that start date give a really good result? (Shame on me for even considering such a thing!)

    For your own entertainment, might I suggest you throw away the Folland and Parker bucket correction and look at warming rates for NH SSTs (unsmoothed, please) from 1938 to 1944. And my entertainment — I’m curious about the answer myself.

    If my eyeball estimate is right, I’d be interested in your interpretation of the result. An explanation would be nice as you seem to be into precedence….

    BTW, while I’m here… Do you happen to know of any study which would generate a temperature profile of the atmosphere if AGW were caused by reduction in low level oceanic cloud? I’ve googled around but cannot find anything — maybe, with better insight and resources, you might be able to find something. TIA.

    JF

    [Response: According to thermometer records, global warming begins about 1915. From then until about 1945, warming is believed to be due to a combination of greenhouse gases and increased solar output. From about 1945 to 1975, temperature levels off due to the cooling effect of man-made aerosols. The “modern global warming era” begins around 1975. By the way, it’s not the *start date* that is relevant to the method, its the length of the time interval. And I chose it *before* I knew what the result would be.

    1938 to 1944 is definitely on the short side for establishing temperature trends, and I wouldn’t know where to get NH sea surface temperature from medieval times for comparison.

    I’m not aware of any study that generates a temperature profile of the atmosphere if AGW were caused by reduction in low level oceanic cloud.]

  • Hank Roberts // October 19, 2007 at 8:55 pm

    > swindle

    You can look this up. Google Scholar will help. Try “global warning swindle” +data. Use the “Wisdom” butto … er, read carefully and think.

    “The Great Global Warming Swindle”: a critique.
    David Jones, Andrew Watkins, Karl Braganza and Michael Coughlan
    National Climate Centre, Bureau of Meteorology

    http://www.aussmc.org/documents/BAMOS_GGWS_SUBMISSION.pdf

    “In summary the documentary is not scientifically sound and presents a flawed and very misleading interpretation of the science. While giving the impression of being based on peer-­reviewed science, much of the material presented is either out-­of-­date, already discredited or of uncertain origin. A number of the graphs and figures used in the documentary are not based on any known or published climate data, while others are presented schematically, and hence may confuse and mislead the viewer.

    Detailed Overview of Errors

    Since its first screening in the UK, errors in the claims made in the programme have been well documented. This critique draws upon two sources 2,3 that have provided detailed discussions of factual errors in the GGWS.

  • windansea // October 20, 2007 at 12:06 am

    Do you happen to know of any study which would generate a temperature profile of the atmosphere if AGW were caused by reduction in low level oceanic cloud?

    here’s one

    Since the beginning of the industrial era ( 1750), nonsolar sources contributed a net forcing of 0.85 ± 1.3Wm−2 [IPCC, 2001] (assuming the errors are Gaussian). Over the
    past century alone, this number is 0.5 ± 1.3Wm−2. The main reason why the error is large is because of the uncertain “indirect” contribution of aerosols, namely, their effect
    on cloud cover. It is currently estimated to be in the range −1 ± 1Wm−2 [IPCC, 2001]. Thus, anthropogenic sources alone contributed to a warming of 0.14 ± 0.36K since the beginning of the 20th Century.

    The sensitivity result can also be used to estimate the solar contribution towards global warming. Over the past century, the increased solar activity has been responsible for
    a stronger solar wind and a lower CRF. Using results of §3.6, the reduced ionization and LACC were responsible for an increased radiative forcing of 1.3 ± 0.5Wm−2. In addition, the globally averaged solar luminosity increased by about 0.4±0.1Wm−2 according to Solanki and Fligge [1998]; Hoyt and Schatten [1993]; Lean et al. [1995].

    Thus, increased solar activity is responsible for a total increase of 1.7±0.6Wm−2. Using our estimate for , we find Tsolar = 0.47 ± .19K.
    We therefore find that the combined solar and anthropogenic sources were responsible for an increase of 0.61 ± 0.42K. This should be compared with the observed 0.57 ± 0.17K increase in global surface temperature [IPCC, 2001].

    In other words, the result we find for the sensitivity and drivers are consistent with the observed temperature increase. This conclusion, about the relative role of solar vs.
    anthropogenic sources was independently reached by comparing the non-monotonic temperature increase with the non-monotonic solar activity increase and the monotonic increase in GHGs [Soon et al., 1996b].

    http://www.phys.huji.ac.il/~shaviv/articles/sensitivity.pdf

    [Response: What does this have to do with the temperature *profile* of the atmosphere?]

  • windansea // October 20, 2007 at 12:10 am

    I might add, the state of atmospheric physics is quite unsettled by this recent paper

    These low cross sections in the photolytically active region of the solar spectrum result in a rate of photolysis of ClOOCl in the stratosphere that is much lower than currently recommended. For conditions representative of the polar vortex (solar zenith angle of 86o, 20 km altitude, and O3 and temperature profiles measured in March 2000) calculated photolysis rates are a factor of 6 lower than the current JPL/NASA recommendation. This large discrepancy calls into question the completeness of present atmospheric models of polar ozone depletion.

    http://pubs.acs.org/cgi-bin/abstract.cgi/jpcafh/2007/111/i20/abs/jp067660w.html

  • windansea // October 20, 2007 at 12:21 am

    Is it “controversial” in the literature? Among the folk who do that sort of thing for a living?

    readers might want to see a previous thread here re Mann’s hockey stick, which was produced using tamped down bristlecone proxies and then grafting the modern instrumental record, much like Tamino has done here.
    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2007/02/15/millerism/

    sceptics should pay attention to comments by Glen Raphael

    If you bring the proxies up to date, the current rate of warming (as indicated by the average of the proxies) doesn’t look terribly out of line with past rates. It’s mainly if you tack part of the instrumental record onto the end of the proxy record - including proxies that don’t currently show warming - that “the significance of the current rate of warming” really jumps out.

    The NAS study confirmed most of M&Ms criticisms of the hockey stick. For instance, it agreed that bristlecone pine should not be used as a 20th century temperature proxy and it agreed that the reconstruction wasn’t statistically significant to the degree claimed. Nevertheless NAS concluded (as you do) that MBH’s flaws don’t matter because “other studies” reached similar findings.

    Problems with that:
    (1) many of these “other studies” have the exact same flaws as MBH! If you exclude all “other studies” that included data sources explicitly rejected by NAS (and by Wegman), you don’t have many studies left and you’ve lost some of the apparent agreement in trend. The illusion of consensus came from the fact that several other studies used strip-bark samples (bristlecone or foxtail) and similar methods to mine for the anomalous (and scary-looking) 20th-century trend.

    (per McIntyre’s NAS testimony, such studies included: Crowley and Lowery [2000] (two series), Esper et al. [2002] (two series),Mann and Jones [2003], Jones and Mann [2004] and Osborn and Briffa [2006] (two series))

  • tamino // October 20, 2007 at 12:41 am

    Just out of curiosity, I repeated the analysis using a time length of 100 yr instead of 30 yr. The fastest increase in the Moberg reconstruction is 0.0050 deg.C/yr from 1812 to 1912, but that’s not medieval; the fastest warming in medieval times is from 919 to 1019, at 0.0043 deg.C/yr. But the fastest modern increase is 0.0081 deg.C from 1906 to 2006, which is 88% faster.

    I strongly suspect that it really doesn’t matter what length one chooses as a time interval; for any reasonable choice modern warming is a lot faster than any equal-length time interval from medieval times, in spite of the vastly greater time span of data.

  • windansea // October 20, 2007 at 12:47 am

    are a factor of 6 lower than the current JPL/NASA recommendation

    let me repeat that conclusion, off by a factor of 6

    on an atmospheric model

    let’s spend billions on their latest consensus :)

  • DWPittelli // October 20, 2007 at 2:22 am

    Wouldn’t it be possible to compare apples to apples? That is, one could compare the rate of estimated temperature increase in the MWP to the rate of increase in the most recent period, as estimated by the same collection of proxies as used during the MWP.

    Failing to do that — instead comparing ancient proxies to recent thermometer readings — it is more than possible that all you are seeing is the result of weaknesses in the proxies’ accuracy. We might of course need some proxies to be updated, but failure to include the effects of this latest, apparently warmest period means an incomplete calibration and no real knowledge about what we might expect from the proxies during the warmest periods (i.e., the MWP and the present).

  • Doug Clover // October 20, 2007 at 2:26 am

    Who the hell is Glen Raphael and why should I give his opinion more weight than the IPCC?

  • Doug Clover // October 20, 2007 at 2:28 am

    P.S.Tamino I really appreciate the way you present your statisical analysis. Clear and transparent.

  • Julian Flood // October 20, 2007 at 6:40 am

    Re response to: Julian Flood // Oct 19th 2007 at 7:36 pm

    Yes, I realise that there’s no chance of doing a comparison with the past. However, the warming rate for that brief period dwarfs the rates you are examining and as such merits thinking about. My own take is, of course, that it’s surface pollution.

    Using the Hadcrut3 graph, I’ve eyeballed the warming and decided that we’ve got a steady .14 deg/decade since 1910. Away from the fussy confusing factors that bedevil the land record, SSTs are so much easier to understand, even with the dubious F&P correction. (There’s a valuable PhD in it for someone who uses westerly facing lighthouse data to recalibrate the SSTs.)

    I feel a little elevated this morning. One prediction my oil sheen/surfactant hypothesis led me to 18 months ago is all over the news this morning: CO2 pull down into the ocean is reducing. Who’d have thought it? Well, me, actually, and the prediction has been on my website all this time. I’ve even proposed a mechanism for the effect. Another prediction is that oceanic boundary layer stratocu coverage will decrease and that is what’s causing the warming. I hope someone is running the atmosphere profiles off as we speak.

    JF

  • cody // October 20, 2007 at 7:13 am

    Tamino has given a pretty straightforward account of the evidence. The question is whether it sufficient to support the conclusion.

    This is what we have to accept to be convinced by it. We need to believe that the proxy reconstructions you can look at at here:
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v433/n7026/suppinfo/nature03265.html
    are fine grained and accurate enough to tell us not only about the absolute temperature levels in the MWP, but also about their rate of change, to accuracy which is comparable to the modern instrumental record.
    We then have to believe that the modern instrumental record, again in terms of rate of change, not simply level, is uncontaminated by UHI effects.
    Finally we have to believe that joining the two series together is legitimate.

    I have difficulties with all three propositions. If you look at Moberg’s series, I don’t think any reasonable person would accept that they are comparable in accuracy or fineness of grain to the modern instrumental record. You notice that Tamino’s post has much longer time scales for the MWP. Were it to show the same time scales, the paucity of the data points would be clear.

    I agree with a previous poster, that if we are talking rate of change, what needs to be compared is the tracking of the same variable throughout the two series being compared. If only because this is one source of error that should be eliminated. We need to see exactly the same proxies brought up to date and shown side by side. If we did this with tree rings, however, we would encounter the famous divergence problem. We would find that the proxies and the surface temperature record are diverging in recent years. So it seems likely that, if you just compare proxies, MWP and today are not as different as the post suggests. Maybe, Tamino, you have access to an up to date proxy series and can do this? I do not.

    Finally, I think the rate of change in the surface temperature record as well as absolute levels are pretty dubious. We have had the fracas about Freedom of Information Act release of the Chinese station metadata, which essentially showed this series to be an unknown quantity and cannot be relied on. The quality of even the US stations is pretty bad. If the proxies and the surface stations in the US diverge, it is not totally clear which to pick.

    Lets be clear, I am not denying that there has been warming since 1950, and particularly since the infamous winter of ‘48 in Europe. The Elfstedentocht is an example. I am doubting that we have evidence which in any other field would convince us to bet on the modern period being dramatically different from MWP.

    By the way, as a footnote, the stats in Moberg, and a couple of the proxy series, notably the Arabian sea ones, are very dodgy. But its not my purpose to discredit Moberg. Its a question of what this kind of evidence can legitimately be used to prove.

  • san quintin // October 20, 2007 at 9:35 am

    One poster asked about the Little Ice Age and whether there is a Southern Hemisphere signal. There is a clear glacier recession event from late-nineteenth century glacier limits in much of Patagonia….and similar events in New Zealand. Whether a MWP signal exists is less clear (although Neil Glasser identified a significant glacier recession at this time in the North Patagonian Icefield). We should know the answer later next year!

  • tamino // October 20, 2007 at 2:07 pm

    cody:

    You claimed the MWP was like modern warming. I compared them, using the data I had to characterize their temperature histories which was most favorable to your case, and it turned out that they are not alike, not even close. It probably took you by surprise, because you replied, “I will read, consider, and reply. But for now, a very nice post.”

    The analysis is incontrovertibly correct, there’s no chance to dispute it. But you have an attachment to disbelief, so you fall back to the data-can’t-be-trusted position. You don’t trust the Mann/Bradley/Hughes hockey stick, you don’t trust the Moberg data. You don’t even trust the modern thermometer record; you even repeated the old “contaminated by UHI” canard! That’s not a valid argument, it’s proof just how weak your position is.

    So I’ll tell you my opinion: it doesn’t matter what data I use or what analysis I apply. You’ll find a rationalization for not believing it. I can point to the satellite estimates of lower-troposphere temperature and how well they track the thermometer record — you’ll find a reason to disbelieve. I can show the mass balance of glaciers, or the cumulative mass balance, but you’ll doubt that too. I can show the changes in arctic sea ice but you’ll invent a reason to doubt that this shows how rapidly warming is happening.

    Meanwhile, windansea will be confronted with “fingerprints” (like stratospheric cooling) which utterly contradict his solar hypothesis, and when asked for a published scientific work which shows the atmospheric temperature profile we would expect from solar warming, will give a lengthy comment with a lot of fancy-sounding words and a reference to a paper which has nothing to do with the temperature profile. He’ll link to the co2science web site. Steven Mosher will refer to “Pascal’s wager” and accuse those of us who accept what the numbers and our eyes are telling us, of a “religious” belief. These aren’t valid arguments, they’re proof just how weak their position is.

    Your (and others’) attitude is exactly the opposite of the title of this blog. So I’ll continue to post interesting, relevant, enlightening data and analysis of global climate. I do this for those who are willing to listen. If any of them have questions, I’ll be happy to reply.

  • windansea // October 20, 2007 at 2:51 pm

    [Response: What does this have to do with the temperature *profile* of the atmosphere?]

    here you go

    http://www.spacecenter.dk/publications/scientific-report-series/Scient_No._3.pdf

    Reply to Lockwood and FrÄohlich
    -
    The persistent role of the Sun in climate forcing
    Henrik Svensmarky and Eigil Friis-Christensen
    Danish National Space Center, Copenhagen, Denmark

    Their analysis relies on data on surface air temperature which, they say, “does not respond to the solar cycle”. Yet over the past 20 years the solar cycle remains fully apparent in variations both of tropospheric air temperature and of ocean sub-surface water temper-
    ature (Fig. 1).

    When the response of the climate system to the solar cycle is apparent in the troposphere and ocean, but not in the global surface temperature, one can only wonder about the quality of the surface temperature record. For
    whatever reason, it is a poor guide to Sun-driven physical processes that are still plainly persistent in the climate system.

  • windansea // October 20, 2007 at 3:22 pm

    Who the hell is Glen Raphael and why should I give his opinion more weight than the IPCC?

    I said sceptics should pay attention, not true believers

  • Hank Roberts // October 20, 2007 at 3:32 pm

    > I do this for those who are willing
    > to listen. If any of them have
    > questions, I’ll be happy to reply.

    It’d be easier to have a conversation if it weren’t for the red herrings.

    Ever read Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron”?

  • Petro // October 20, 2007 at 8:55 pm

    There is a fundamental difference between open-minded and close-minded thinking. Basically, open-minded person can change his view, when confronted with the facts. Close-minded person lacks this ability.

    Presumably both characteristics have some meaning for the survival of human species, since both has persisted throughout at least historical period. Open-mindness can cope better with changing environment, while close-minded perferts in stability.

    Close-minded person does change their views over time, unfortunately the pace of change is slow. Before the change happens, close-minded person pulls out all the excuses, which support his ill-founded belief.

    The global climate change is not too novel observation, Keeling started his measurements in the fifties. The rising level of CO2 in the atmosphere was demonstrated beyond any doubt in the sixties. The changes in the climate can be observed by layman at the latest in the turn of the millenium.

    The close-minded of this blog do not change their view on the global warming and its harmfulness until bad weather causes them losses personnally.

    Alas, only Katrina in their butt teaches them.

  • NeuvoLiberal // October 21, 2007 at 6:53 am

    Excellent post, Tamino.

    I was wondering if you could post something on the latest news on Atlantic ocean’s CO2 saturation reported here: Oceans are ’soaking up less CO2′? I tried, but couldn’t find the data for this.

    Please see my post on Dimmock Vs Gore’s movie here. Any suggestions are welcome. Thanks.

  • cody // October 21, 2007 at 7:24 am

    The debate has unfortunately descended to a level when it is no longer about rational argument on the facts and conclusions. As usual when you are not immediately convinced by an argument in favor of AGW, I am being attacked for a variety of personal failings, none of which I do have.

    I will admit to congenital or acquired scepticism reinforced by acquaintance with human nature. I have lived through Limits to Growth, the Population Bomb, Global Cooling, the Dot Com bubble, and the claim that in 45 minutes Saddam could unleash weapons of mass destruction on me. My parents lived through the collective insanities of Nazism and Communism, and heard true believers turn purple denying the reality of both holocausts. Yes, I am sceptical. The historical evidence for Jesus also strikes me as flimsy.

    Now let us turn to the argument and please from now on leave me personally out of it.

    Tree rings are annual average affairs. Sediment deposited is a decadal affair. To get from either to surface temps is a computational inference. Surface temp measurements are taken daily. It is not stupid to wonder whether there might be discontinuities of shape or level in a curve which consists of two sets of temperatures, one derived from proxies, one measured directly (or at least more directly).

    Do you not think this is a legitimate point? Do you actually have a series of proxies (ones admitted to be temperature proxies and not CO2 or rainfall ones) which runs from (say) 1000AD to 2004AD. Can you put up the temperature curves inferred from it so we can see what we think? Would you mind plotting your two charts on the same horizontal scale, so we can see the data points?

    As to the surface temp record, consider these reasons for skepticism. First we have the surface stations project. They have documented failings in site management of a high order in a high proportion of US sites. Unless you think these failings have remained constant across the series, you have to admit that they cast doubt on the uniformity of the series of measurements. The ROW material is worse. It was claimed there were good station histories on the Chinese stations, but the authors refused to reveal what the stations were. Then the Freedom of Information Act forced them to reveal, and we found that on most of them there were no station histories at all. They had been, shall we say, optimistic with the truth. This is another valid reason for scepticism. In a country with rapid population growth and rapid unrbanization and industrialization, without station histories of a rigorous sort, we cannot have confidence in absence of heat island effects over time.

    I do not doubt that the raw readings for the stations are what the instruments showed. Well, except in the case of China during the Cultural Revolution, when a reasonable person might well have made up any number the regime wanted, in the interests of survival for himself and family.

    What I am doubting, in the surface temp record, is homogeneity of the series, and no contamination by urbanization around sites. You could rebut this by, for instance, showing maps of a few thousand sites in the US or China, and showing there had been no substantial building around them. Or you could show experimental work showing that rural sites show the same absolute temperatures as rural sites in the same area, today.

    At least these would be factual arguments and would be quite convincing if they can be made. Speculating about my personal characteristics is neither an argument to the issues, nor convincing.

  • cce // October 21, 2007 at 8:08 am

    As far as I know, HH Lamb’s chart of the temperature of central England (used in the First Assessment Report and in The Great Global Warming Swindle) was first used in Biological Significance of Climatic Changes in Britain (1965), which was a book that Lamb contributed to.

    Incidentally, I cover this in part 4 of my “climate change skeptic” presentation:
    http://cce.000webhost.org

    Yes, I’m working on a new narration. Please email me any corrections.

  • tamino // October 21, 2007 at 2:26 pm

    cody:

    I’m quite aware that no data set is without its flaws. I’m also aware that researchers have gone to extraordinary lengths to understand what those flaws are and how best to correct for them. I know about the urban heat island effect. I also know how it’s corrected for, and that if one excludes urban stations, the warming trend in global temperature based exclusively on rural station data is higher than that computed from all stations. I know about the inhomogeneity between annual and decadal data. I also know this has only a miniscule effect on 30-year (and 100-year) trends. I know about the surfacestations project. I also know that their efforts would be truly laudible if they had a clue about how to evaluate data, and didn’t exhibit blatant bias and a clear prejudgement of the result.

    Skepticism is a fine thing. But I really have to wonder, where was your skepticism when you stated, “We have two events which appear very similar - modern warming and MWP.”? Exactly what data did you base that conclusion on? What was your basis for stating “The satellite record seems to show a static SH and a rising NH”? You certainly couldn’t have got such an opinion from studying the satellite record.

    Your statements have consistently shown that your skepticism isn’t based on knowledge. I’m a big fan of skepticism in general, but I have no respect for skepticism rooted in ignorance. If you really want to call yourself a true and honest skeptic, I suggest you start with a very healthy skepticism about the state of your own knowledge.

    I’m not going to let yet another discussion get hijacked, degenerating into the same old regurgitation of the same old objections that have been responded to time and time again. Been there, done that. As it stands it looks like I was right on when I said it doesn’t matter what data I use or what analysis I apply. You’ll find a rationalization for not believing it.

  • Hank Roberts // October 21, 2007 at 3:27 pm

    > Harrison Bergeron
    On why and how interruption is used to prevent thought, unsurpassed:
    http://instruct.westvalley.edu/lafave/hb.html

  • cody // October 21, 2007 at 7:09 pm

    I think you cannot be used to the kind of debate, and skepticism, that anyone presenting a case for investment to a finance committee in business encounters. This is nothing compared to that. Yet, investments are made all the time. And if you say ‘you’ll find a rationalization….’, they laugh at you. Just focus on the argument and convince them, is what they say. When you do, they invest. If you convince them. Yes, its hard.

    I think maybe the problem with warmers is they have never been in a real debate.

  • windansea // October 21, 2007 at 8:18 pm

    I think maybe the problem with warmers is they have never been in a real debate.

    Damnit…There’s no time for debate…

    Jack Bauer mode off

  • BrianR // October 21, 2007 at 8:38 pm

    re Cody above - I simply do not understand analogies to business/engineering practices within the context of figuring out a complex natural system.

    Cody says: “Just focus on the argument and convince them, is what they say. When you do, they invest. If you convince them.”

    It’s all about how convincing you are? It’s all about ‘winning’ a debate? Unlike investing, the Earth’s climate will operate independently of how well-crafted your argument is. Who are you trying to convince? Sorry…I don’t get it.

  • luminous beauty // October 22, 2007 at 1:03 am

    I think what Cody is saying, is, that in the art of Sales it is necessary to coddle the preconceptions of the customer.

    As Poor Richard put it, ‘You can attract more flies with honey than vinegar.’

    But an appeal to profit is not quite the same animal as an appeal to reason, except in the minds of those who believe the Law of Supply and Demand is a scientific principle more central than the laws of conservation.

    To those who believe the upfront costs of mitigation out-weigh the benefits of avoiding potential human catastrophe not measured in chrematistic terms (after all, the millions of potentially displaced Bangladeshis don’t have much personal wealth to lose), I would say, money is infinitely fungible. It doesn’t just disappear into a black hole, it changes hands. Every ‘cost’ is someone’s profit. Wealthy investors have backed the humanly destructive habit of warfare for millenia and earned tidy profits. Surely there are profits to be made in the more normatively positive effort of mitigating effects which indicate the potential for large losses in human productivity.

    It seems the major insurers and many large corporations have already made this calculus. Policy makers should be working to enhance and reinforce this investment potential, but we have a loud chorus of well orchestrated nay-sayers, doing everything they can in the political sphere to gum up the works.

  • Gaudenz Mischol // October 22, 2007 at 6:38 am

    One question comes to my mind: the reconstructions of past temperatures by tree rings or other proxies seem to be accurate to a tenth of a degree. Is it wise to compare these reconstructions to measured temperatures by thermometers (as tamino an others do it)? Why don’t we just continue the proxy reconstructions up to 2007 and see if they show the recent warming? If they track it I would have a lot of confidence in the proxy reconstructions, if they don’t I think we would have a problem in stating how much warmer or colder the MWP/LIA was. This would be the test for the proxies. As long as this is not done, it’s conjecture or belief, that proxies (like tree ring) are accurate “thermometers” to a tenth of a degree a thousand years an more back.

  • cody // October 22, 2007 at 9:36 am

    “I think what Cody is saying, is, that in the art of Sales it is necessary to coddle the preconceptions of the customer.”

    I am saying something quite different. In business, when one is trying to get money for a project, one normally presents a case to an investment committee of some sort. Often if the amounts are large, you go before a couple, one after the other.

    At these meetings, and in the preparatory work for them, your proposal and its assumptions are normally subjected to intense critical scrutiny. Anything you have asserted about market size, growth, projected costs, all that factual underpinning, is up for scrutiny, and in my experience, gets it.

    I was making the point that the level of skepticism which is obviously over the comfort threshold of Warmers, is well below what many of us experience on a day-to-day basis in everyday working lives. I conjecture that Warmers who find the level of skepticism I have voiced here distressing or unwarranted can never have worked in environments where loud fierce debate is normal.

    This is why you all feel there is something out of line, and that I am impossible to convince. My point is, the level of skepticism you are hearing from me is NORMAL. It is not untoward. Its how the world behaves.

    Now, returning to the point at hand, would one of you be good enough to plot a series of proxies, which are generally agreed to be real temperature proxies, ie not BC Pine, or those Arabian shells, and show us the statistical differences between MWP and Modern Warming.

    Please plot the axes using the same scale for both periods. Please also plot raw data. Do not plot adjusted data only. If you need to plot adjusted data, publish the algorithm. Also, if you plot temperatures derived from the series, please plot the series also, so we can see where the temps came from.

    It may be that the result will show a real difference between MWP and today. I would very much like to see it to find out.

    It is not being hard to please to find a series which consists of part temperature readings from instruments (adjusted) spliced to a set of temps reconstructed from proxies, suggestive of programs for further research, rather than the definitive proof which you all would like them to be received as.

  • KH // October 22, 2007 at 3:26 pm

    CODY

    I think you misunderstand the level of scrutiny in science. There are a lot of big egos in science, and scientists are more than willing to tear down the work of other scientists. However, the criteria are reason and intellectual honesty. I am a geophysicist. I belong to a professional association that publishes journals. Papers submitted to the journal have to go through a peer review process before publication. I have both submitted papers, and done peer review. The peer review process involves analyzing the paper for scientific correctness and validity. There are other criteria as well, but a paper is scrutinized by at least three other geophysicists. Often they are sent back for revision, and the process is repeated. When (or if) it is finally published, it is open to criticism from other scientists through replies to the journal, or submission of papers refuting the work. In addition, scientific results are presented at conventions. These papers are peer reviewed before presentation, and the presenter undergoes scrutiny in the QA after presentation. So the journals and the conventions represent the playing field of science. That is where the scientific game is played, not in the media or the web.

    The two largest associations of climate scientists are the American Geophysical Union and the American Meteorological Association. Both of these professional associations have summarized the results of their climate science papers in statements that can be read on their websites. Both conclude that global warming is occurring and can only be explained through increased CO2 in the atmosphere. I am a scientist, but climate science is not my area of expertise. However, I accept the results of those who do have the expertise. I do not accept the results of the few scientists on the fringe (and every science has its fringe scientists). The American Academy of Science has also looked at the climate science papers and come to the same conclusion. The Academy members are some of the most preeminent scientists in the US. Further, the National Academies of all the G8 countries plus China, India, and Brazil have concluded the same thing., not to mention the IPCC. Now, I would have to have some very good reasons to reject the conclusions of those groups. To reject their conclusions, I would have to reject the competence and integrity of the majority of their members. So until the denialists can show why I should do that, to me they will remain just hecklers on the sidelines of science.

  • Hank Roberts // October 22, 2007 at 3:57 pm

    The “sales model” is pervasive and dangerous.

    Compare this:
    http://science.ksc.nasa.gov/shuttle/missions/51-l/docs/rogers-commission/Appendix-F.txt

    to this:
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2007/10/22/national/a001811D01.DTL&tsp=1%22

  • Hank Roberts // October 22, 2007 at 3:58 pm

    Oh, Cody — a “plot” is just a picture.
    You may find it convincing because it looks good.

    You have to do the statistics to know if an apparent trend is probably real.

  • Eli Rabett // October 22, 2007 at 4:23 pm

    Gaudenz, there are two basic reasons your suggestion does not work. The first is that many of the proxy samples were taken years ago and only extend to the date they were taken (for example, tree rings and ice cores) so they cannot be “extended” to 2007 without taking new cores. given the large amount of effort and expenses to “bring the data base up to date” that is not practical. The Mann, Bradley and Hughes papers published in the late 90s, for example, cut off the calibration period in 1980, because many of the proxy samples extended only to that point. It is statistically challenging to consistently calibrate a number of proxys where the calibration period is different for different proxys. I don’t even know if it can be done.

    The second is that the proxys are determined by comparing some characteristic (say 18O) against the temperatures measured instrumentally so there is nothing a priori wrong with using instrumental temperature anomalies.

    A really significant problem for the future will be how to improve the calibration of old samples using a longer instrumental record.

  • Eli Rabett // October 22, 2007 at 4:25 pm

    Oh yes, another drive by, tree rings are NOT annual average affairs. If nothing else you can look at seasonal differences.

  • Steve Bloom // October 22, 2007 at 7:55 pm

    Note to Cody: Business rewards effective liars. Science doesn’t.

  • Steve Bloom // October 22, 2007 at 8:36 pm

    NeuvoLiberal, the ocean CO2 sink pub you want (and note the companion paper) is on Andrew Watson’s site here (scroll down for the pub page link).

    I’ll have a look at your AIT material by this weekend, but at a glance it sounds as if you would be interested in working on the ninepoints wikithat Michael Tobis has set up. I’m thinking in terms of completing it to the point that it can be a definitive permanent reference, as I think that AIT will remain a live issue for some time to come. If at all possible I want to have it whipped into shape by the time of the Nobel awards ceremony, at which time I’m pretty confident that there will be another spate of media attention to AIT’s veracity. I need to write up and post (on the wiki) some sort of description of what I think needs to be added, and I expect to do that this weekend. Following that, everyone who wants to work on it can commit to various pieces of the needed research.

  • John Mashey // October 22, 2007 at 8:51 pm

    Cody:
    “I conjecture that Warmers who find the level of skepticism I have voiced here distressing or unwarranted can never have worked in environments where loud fierce debate is normal.”

    I’ve reviewed a lot of business proposals, both internally in companies (at VP level), and externally as advisor to venture capitalists, who are born skeptics (but NOT denialists)…

    BUT, AGW evaluation is not like reviewing proposals for brand-new businesses, it’s like reviewing two existing lines of business:

    1) One of them has #1 market share position in every market that it has entered, has frequently proposed new products for new markets over 20 years, and been successful with them, and has grown in sales and profits about 15% per year, and even gets better in its forecasts.

    2) Another one has never made money, uses essays from 15-year-olds and college medical students instead of research, proposes ideas that break laws of physics, keeps proposing new products that don’t work, then after they haven’t worked, keeps bring them back again and again. Most of their presentation is devoted to complaints about 1), and demands that budget be moved, because 1) can’t predict whether they’ll grow 15.1% next year or only 14.9%, and hence are wrong and clueless.

    OK, I know which LOB to fund…

  • Hank Roberts // October 22, 2007 at 11:04 pm

    John, are you planning on funding a business for the USA, or for Europe? There’s a difference.

    http://www.bartleby.com/59/3/nooneeverwen.html

  • luminous beauty // October 23, 2007 at 1:50 am

    Cody,

    What you are providing is not skepticism, but bull-headedness. You are trying to impose a pre-conceived notion on the data (MWP temps warmer than modern temps), and when the data shows no such thing, then insist the data or the computations must be, not only out-side the bounds of calculable stochastic error, but totally wrong.

    Multiple proxy reconstructions do not show warmer MWP temps, or much of any significant variance, even if any single proxy is removed (tree rings or seashells), or if other suites of PCs are used, including those hand-picked by Steve McIntyre, or no PCs are used at all, or if other compilation methods are used.

    This suggests the data (including that of bristle-cones and seashells) is fairly robust. Not perfect, but reasonably accurate.

    The onus is on you to demonstrate that the data or methodology is flawed.

    So far, the ClimateAudit crowd has only discovered insignificant and minor errors, often re-inventing the wheel by the most circumlocutious of methods to arrive at uncertainties already acknowledged and dealt with by more direct means.

    It is more circus show than science.

  • nanny_govt_sucks // October 23, 2007 at 4:07 am

    Multiple proxy reconstructions do not show warmer MWP temps, or much of any significant variance, even if any single proxy is removed (tree rings or seashells),

    But if you remove the bristlecone pines proxy then there’s really not much of anything you can say about the relationship between medieval and modern temperatures.

    or if other suites of PCs are used, including those hand-picked by Steve McIntyre, or no PCs are used at all, or if other compilation methods are used.

    I guess you missed Steve McIntyre’s post on making Apple Pie instead of Cherry Pie:
    http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=581

  • Paul S // October 23, 2007 at 5:07 am

    == Gaudenz said: “Why don’t we just continue the proxy reconstructions up to 2007 and see if they show the recent warming?” ==

    Good question Gaudenz, and I don’t believe Eli gives your question a proper answer. It is possible to update at least some of the proxy records at minimal effort and minimal cost.

    An unnamed person has obtained new tree ring samples and is having the results processed now, thereby attempting to bring at least one set of records up to the current date.

    Effort was minimal ( a day trip) and costs were minimal too. So the question remains as to why climate experts have not properly updated at least some of their proxy records.

  • Carl Smith // October 23, 2007 at 5:22 am

    Eli wrote:

    “The first is that many of the proxy samples were taken years ago and only extend to the date they were taken (for example, tree rings and ice cores) so they cannot be “extended” to 2007 without taking new cores. given the large amount of effort and expenses to “bring the data base up to date” that is not practical.”

    The links below give you some idea of “the large amount of effort and expenses” Eli claims you need to undertake to update tree ring proxies:

    http://toxics.usgs.gov/photo_gallery/tree_coring.html

    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/slides/slideset/18/18_361_bslide.html

    Gee, given the amount of funds spent on climate science, they must charge like a wounded bull for those apparently unwieldy and difficult to manage tree corers if it is so impractical that no one can afford “the large amount of effort and expenses” to get one to a site to update the tree-ring proxies!

    Granted, ice cores would require a bit more expense and effort, but given the huge budgets being allocated to climate science, does Eli really expect us to believe that it is impractical to update at least some of the proxies as a quality control check on how they have behaved since the calibration period?

  • Hans Erren // October 23, 2007 at 5:36 am

    “Multiple proxy reconstructions do not show warmer MWP temps, or much of any significant variance, even if any single proxy is removed (tree rings or seashells), or if other suites of PCs are used, including those hand-picked by Steve McIntyre, or no PCs are used at all, or if other compilation methods are used.

    This suggests the data (including that of bristle-cones and seashells) is fairly robust. Not perfect, but reasonably accurate.”

    Dream on…

  • John Mashey // October 23, 2007 at 5:53 am

    Hank:
    Well, ones I’ve looked at have been in UK, US, and China, and ones I’ve helped get funded are here, as were the internal projects. However, I’ve usually eschewed consumer products companies, as I’ve had difficulty predicting those. I occasionally see “SELL / NO SELL” on Jay Leno, and I never get those right.

    Recall that I was speaking of existing LOBs with visible track records, in some cases akin to choosing between James Hansen or Fred Singer proposals. This isn’t like picking between two folks just out of school, where you *know* you’re taking chances.

    Of course, I have seen otherwise sane execs back some things I thought weren’t very good.

  • cody // October 23, 2007 at 5:55 am

    Note to Steve Bloom:

    In both business and science, effective liars are found out and discredited. In the end. It just takes a long time, sometimes. In both there are outright frauds, wishful thinking, and occasional outbreaks of collective hysteria. In both, honest mistakes are also found out in the end, and these are probably more numerous.

    The conduct of both science and business reflect the society we live in. Both are capitalist enterprises. My experience (which is in both) is that in business, debates tend to be more factual, less personal, less political and much more skeptical, but its a small sample to draw on.

    Eli: I do not believe it is particularly difficult to update the proxy samples. Not compared to the amount of money and life we have at risk with the AGW hypothesis. If there is even a slight chance that they will give us more information or confirm or disconfirm the hypothesis, we should be spending the money and doing it without delay.

    Luminous: We started this debate by an assertion. I said that I didn’t see anything much different about the present warming. Tamino then offered me evidence which seemed to show a great difference. However, on examination, it showed a series of data points drawn from different samples plotted on different scales. I asked could we please see the same plots on the same scales and using the same data.

    I’m not a stubborn member of any crowd. I would just like to see those plots. Yes, and stats based on that data, too. It doesn’t seem a lot to ask when the future of the planet is at stake.

  • Gaudenz Mischol // October 23, 2007 at 6:40 am

    Eli

    I dont’ think your points are valid. With all the funding poing into climate research it should be possible to update the proxies. I think most of the necessary infrastructure like labs and computer codes are ready, it’s mainly a question to go out in the field and get the samples. And since 1980 another 27 years or proxy data have evolved. Or is it just the pesky divergence problem which hinders the researchers to do it?I stand by my statement, that this would be the real test for the proxies.

    Lbeauty

    what about the bore hole data which do show warmer MWP than today? Are they not valid proxies or is it your pre-conceived notion that modern times are warmer than MWP?

  • Dano // October 23, 2007 at 12:37 pm

    With all the funding poing into climate research it should be possible to update the proxies. I think most of the necessary infrastructure like labs and computer codes are ready, it’s mainly a question to go out in the field and get the samples.

    Folks don’t seem to understand the issue for work isn’t money limitations. It’s time limitations.

    If intrepid Amateur Auditors are so convinced of their position, then donate your time to a dendro program at a uni. Volunteer to write their grant requests for them. Then, when some people go out into the field to collect data, volunteer to RA/teach their classes for them while they’re away, or take some other work off their hands. Answer the phone and talk to students, faculty, staff, or Amateur Auditors. Or, better yet: take a camera into the mountains over Alma (not now, but in the summer, and remember ‘cotton kills’) and take pictures of trees. Nothing more, just pictures. This will discredit those warmers! Anyway,

    See, this way, volunteering your time will mean there will be more data out there to discredit the socialist warmers.

    Do it. Volunteer your time to the cause. You can be a cog in the big machine to topple the doomers. You can do it. Consider this as a call to all the practical, rational, free-thinking, Galileo-like strrrrong individuals out there to Crush the Consensus!!!

    Best,

    D

  • richard // October 23, 2007 at 12:49 pm

    Cody: “If there is even a slight chance that they will give us more information or confirm or disconfirm the hypothesis, we should be spending the money and doing it without delay.”

    Are you prepared to cut a cheque, then? The climate science community and the IPCC have already amassed and analyzed large amounts of data; uncertainty has been reduced to the extent that a large majority of climate scientists are in agreement with the IPCC reports.

    Is there any reason to believe meeting your requests would increase the likelihood of action? Or resolve your concerns? I am doubtful. In any case, the costs of resolving them would be high, and likely include adding science staff as well as operating dollars.

    “My experience (which is in both) is that in business, debates tend to be more factual, less personal”

    Well, that has not been my experience. While debates in either field can be bitter and personal, science is data-driven and good data wins the day. In business, it is not nearly so straightforward. Companies with good business models and markets often fail for unrelated reasons (sometimes it is the personality of the boss).

  • EliRabett // October 23, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    Time and trained people. Getting the samples, btw, is not trivial, you have to have the right equipment, know where to look (most of the stuff was sampled way before GPS), and not harm the tree, if it is still there, trees do fall in the forest. Ice cores are major expeditions because you need drilling equipment, a way of preserving the core, people who know how to take the samples, etc. boreholes, also are a specialists game, then you need the equipment and expertise to analyze what you have sampled. In short major projects not a wave of the hands nor a pocketbook issue alone.

    The thing about the borehole records is pretty well nailed by Stoat. The short of it is, that there are different sets taken by the same group and even the people who have a hard time defending the one that
    shows a very warm MWP

    BTW the post I linked to and the comments are a very good indication of how science really works.

  • MrPete // October 23, 2007 at 3:17 pm

    Eli, Dano, et al… in light of your comments, I hope you all are supportive and expectantly waiting to see the results of a small volunteer effort to update the dendro record. Yes, it has taken some time. No, it was not all that difficult.

    Isn’t it about the basics? Reasonably good data collection, eyes-open observation, open information sharing, good feedback and quality checking… hopefully some good science emerges. Nothing all that tricky, time consuming or expensive.

    Most of us may remember a grade-school experiment: here’s a candle… write down your observations…

  • Steve Bloom // October 23, 2007 at 3:21 pm

    Cody, you’re laboring under a fundamental misapprehension if you think that finding a warmer MWP would in any way detract from the AGW hypothesis (theory is more apt, BTW). Just out of curiosity, where did you get that idea?

  • luminous beauty // October 23, 2007 at 3:54 pm

    Cody,

    “However, on examination, it showed a series of data points drawn from different samples plotted on different scales. I asked could we please see the same plots on the same scales and using the same data.

    As the Moberg reconstruction ends at 1979, it is impossible to use the Moberg reconstuction for global average temperatures post 1979. Likewise, the instrumental record is robust only from the mid-19th century so it is impossible use the instrumental record for dates where there is no instrumental record. It is no great sin of reason to compare different data sets for different periods of time as long as they are measuring the same quantity, and, as tamino has so transparenty done, equalize them to the same reference period. What you are asking for is unreasonable and impossible!

    That’s not skeptical, that is delusional.

  • J Edwards // October 23, 2007 at 8:11 pm

    Procedures for taking a tree core are posted here and don’t look all that difficult:
    http://www.plantbio.ohiou.edu/dendro/field_methods.htm
    And you can even buy your own Junior Dendro F.I.E.L.D. Kit from Forestry Suppliers here:

    http://www.forestry-suppliers.com/product_pages/View_Catalog_Page.asp?mi=6808

  • Mark Hadfield // October 23, 2007 at 8:53 pm

    I’m no expert in temperature reconstructions, but I’m inclined to agree with Cody that there are pitfalls in comparing the instrumental record from the last few decades with temperature reconstructions over the last millenium or two. If there *was* a warming some time in the past of, say, 0.5 C over 50 years, can we be sure that the Moberg reconstruction would have seen it? (That’s not entirely a rhetorical question. Can we?)

    Mind you, I don’t think the case for AGW relies on the recent warming being unprecedented in either magnitude or gradient. Regarding magnitude, it may or may not have been warmer in the MWP than it is now (and I think the evidence says it *probably* wasn’t) but it probably was warmer than now 8000 years ago, or during the Eemian interglacial, or during the Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, or …

  • guthrie // October 23, 2007 at 9:35 pm

    Science is a capitalist enteprise? Not exactly. I mean all those government (taxpayer) funded scientific breakthroughs didn’t just happen by capitalism. Come the revolution, scientific research will not stop.

  • cody // October 24, 2007 at 8:27 am

    Where did I get the idea that a warmer MWP would detract from the AGW theory? From my studies in the philosophy of science and the use of Occam’s razor. Its not exactly what I think by the way. I think that similar events should be hypothesized to have similar causes. That if we see two outbreaks of fungal disease that look very similar in different regions, we should make the hypothesis that the cause is the same, rather than being ready to immediately find two different causes in the two different locations. Doing this leads to finding local correlations not fundamental causes.

    Though, where I got the idea is less important than whether it is right.

    So I think it really does matter whether MWP and modern period warming are very similar. I also think the explanation, if there is one, of the cooling subsequent to MWP is rather important. Do any of you know what caused it? Could the same thing happen again and cause later cooling? Or is this out of the question?

    The request for a continuous series is not a personal one. The issue is not me asking for something which cannot be delivered. The issue is, a continuous series has an evidential force which a discontinuous one does not. There is no getting around this, This is science. Its not me being unreasonable, it is the nature of evidence and proof.

    It doesn’t say I am unreasonable. It says the evidence is not very robust. Yes, maybe there isn’t any properly robust evidence. Could be. Not a problem with me, with the evidence.

  • richard // October 24, 2007 at 12:44 pm

    “That if we see two outbreaks of fungal disease that look very similar in different regions”

    Not sure that is a very apt analogy. Fungi causing diseases of animals or plants tend to have quite specific host ranges and produce quite specific symptoms, regardless of region. It would be quite likely, then, that if we saw those symptoms in a host that we would be correct if we assumed that the cause in different regions was the same.

    Comparisons of MWP and AGW, based upon the current data, would appear to be a different case. The data suggest one was local, the other is global.

    Its your opinion that the evidence re AGW is not robust. Most climatologists do not seem to agree.

  • luminous beauty // October 24, 2007 at 3:25 pm

    “I think that similar events should be hypothesized to have similar causes.”

    As that grandaddy of skeptical philosophy, David Hume, would be quick to point out, this is a post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy, correlation does not indicate causation. It isn’t Occam’s Razor at all. It is magical thinking. In the physical sciences, causation is demonstrated by establishing an explanatory physical mechanism that follows well established physical principles, i.e., conservation of mass and energy. Similitude may suggest a relationship, but a scientific hypothesis requires a physical mechanism that can be tested. In the dismal science (or happy religion, if you will) of economics, correlation is pretty much all you have, because the underlying transactions are predicated on the fundamentally unpredictable vagaries of human decision-making.

    To say evidence is not robust because it is not from a single continuous data series is less than unreasonable, it is ridiculous. If two discontinuous and non-related, but partially over-lapping data series can be shown to be in significant agreement per a commonly derived factor, such as temperature, they are corroborating lines of evidence and the evidence is made stronger because of it.

  • Petro // October 24, 2007 at 5:44 pm

    Cody stated:
    “Where did I get the idea that a warmer MWP would detract from the AGW theory? From my studies in the philosophy of science and the use of Occam’s razor.”

    All glory to the philosophers, but the days when they carried out scientific experiments are gone hundreds years ago.

    Tamino analyzed data available and showed MWP and current are different in size and pace. You criticized quality of data. When it was told that data is best that has been achieved, you suggested that additional data should be gathered.

    Do you truly have any scientific justification for your demand or is it just that you feel that Tamino’s analysis is not correct (due to problems with data)?

    It is not scepticism, if you base your arguments on beliefs or feelings .

    btw. There is going on research on the time series all the time. If within next three years the time series you request is analyzed and the results do not differ that much from the results shown here, do you still keep your dubious stance toward dissimilarity of MWP and current time?

  • Mark Hadfield // October 25, 2007 at 4:33 am

    Hi Cody

    “Where did I get the idea that a warmer MWP would detract from the AGW theory? From my studies in the philosophy of science and the use of Occam’s razor. Its not exactly what I think by the way. I think that similar events should be hypothesized to have similar causes.”

    That’s a reasonable default position, but hardly the last word.

    The recent warming has been relatively well monitored and can be explained as a result of forcing by greenhouse gases, aerosols, etc. (I’m not saying it’s the only explanation, but it is an explanation that works.) All we can say about comparable warming events in the MWP is that we can’t rule them out, but the data don’t show any strong evidence for them. (And, of course, *if* one did occur, then it wasn’t caused by a huge anthropogenic injection of greenhouse gases.) It doesn’t give your “similar events, similar causes” guideline much to work with, does it?

  • EliRabett // October 25, 2007 at 11:45 pm

    You hike out to the ass end of nowhere, take a core (from the right tree, and bring it back. Now you have to analyze it. . . . . . .

  • tristram shandy // October 27, 2007 at 2:15 am

    Eli,

    It can’t be too difficult or expensive. As you know Steve McIntyre just updated the bristlecones. Finding the trees was a bit challenging since the scientists didnt see fit to make a simple map of where the trees were located ( a failing grade in my classes), but eventually the trees that were cored before were found since the scientists did see fit to tag the trees. Some trees had been improperly cored, for example taking a single core from an elliptical tree ( you could see the marks were the core was sealed ) but luckily the amatuer McIntyre was wise enough to take multiple cores and photo document the process, along with GPS of course. All in all a couple days work.
    Not bad for an old man. So cut the lies, it really damages the credibility of warmists

    why do you persist in this lie that it is expensive hard work

  • Hank Roberts // October 27, 2007 at 2:50 am

    Seriously, he went and drilled bristlecones? Where are the cores archived?

    Where is this documented? Pointer please?

  • dhogaza // October 27, 2007 at 2:56 am

    Finding the trees was a bit challenging since the scientists didnt see fit to make a simple map of where the trees were located ( a failing grade in my classes)

    Why a failing grade in your class?

    All you need is a proper sample, not the same trees…

    If you know the general area where the original samples were taken, you can generate your own sample, no problem.

    What’s the point, though? If the hockey stick is only accurate for the last 400 years rather than the last 1600 years, basic physics is refuted and CO2 is no longer a GHG?

  • Hank Roberts // October 27, 2007 at 3:05 am

    Found, McIntyre’s report on getting a permit and drilling
    http://groups.google.com/group/alt.global-warming/browse_thread/thread/3574152a217fbdce/b330ac6c32fbfd44

    “… Prior to the trip, I obtained
    a permit from the U.S. Forest Service to take dendrochronological
    samples from bristlecones on Mount Almagre and we did more than look
    at pretty views; we obtained up-to-date bristlecone samples. I only
    went up Almagre on the first day. Our permit lasted a month and Pete
    and Leslie spent two more days on Almagre, finally locating and
    sampling tagged Graybill trees on the third day.

    Altogether (and primarily through the efforts of Pete and Leslie), our
    project collected 64 cores from 45 different trees at 5 different
    locations on Mount Almagre. 17 Graybill trees were identified, of
    which 9 were re-sampled. All the cores are currently at a
    dendrochronological laboratory….”

  • luminous beauty // October 27, 2007 at 3:07 am

    tristram,

    And McIntyre used what lab separating the rings into samples and what lab for the gas chromatography?

    Did he get all the necessary permits, or is he going to jail for vandalism?

  • jim edwards // October 27, 2007 at 3:36 am

    dhogaza:

    You sensibly asked:
    “What’s the point, though? If the hockey stick is only accurate for the last 400 years rather than the last 1600 years, basic physics is refuted and CO2 is no longer a GHG?”

    Your implicit basic scientific point is correct, but you’re forgetting the public policy implications, which are significant.

    Many taxpayers and legislators are buying into policy solutions with unlimited price tags under the assumption that present or near future warming is “unprecedented.”

    Let’s assume for purposes of argument that we somehow knew Earth was 1 degree F warmer 1000 years ago than today. Further assume that AGW from CO2 is causing 100% of current warming [more than 2x what IPCC claims for last 50 years…]. Many people might logically conclude that GW may be a significant future problem, but if we survived higher temp before we can do it in the near future again with our superior technology.

    Many people would be less inclined to support immediate fixes with unlimited price tags. They’d wait for realistic cost-benefit analyses and for better technology to price better solutions to GW more affordably. They’d accept a little more CO2 in the air in the short term in exchange for more economic growth for humanity - deferring the solution long enough to prepare the world’s poorest for the ’sting’ of the cost of giving up cheaper energy.

  • JTK // October 27, 2007 at 4:02 am

    luminous beauty:

    Separating the rings into samples???

    Gas chromatography???

    Are we talking about dendrochronology or not?

  • NeuvoLiberal // October 27, 2007 at 10:54 am

    To Steve Bloom:
    Thanks for your suggestions and recommendations, which I just have noticed and noted. I agree with you about the likelihood of another round of attacks on Gore around the time of the award ceremony. best regards -NL

  • Roger Bell // October 27, 2007 at 11:22 am

    There is a good current criticism of Hansen’s work by the Idsos at co2science.org. The major point is that Hansen is offering opinions and not science.

    [Response: I’m reminded of an old phrase, about a pot and a kettle.]

  • Geoff Sherrington // October 27, 2007 at 12:41 pm

    For some time now, several scientists including me have been trying to answer a simple question.

    Question: Where is the quantitative derivation of the assertion that a doubling of atmospheric CO2 will raise the global atmospheric temperature, by X or Y degrees - or even cool it.

    Mostly we find residuals from GCMs that have unexplained heating blithely attributed to greenhouse gases by default. We find qualitative papers on light spectroscopy that say that certain light frequencies are absorbed by certain gases, but we find no quantitative papers of relevance. We find model after model claiming that greenhouse gases (what a childish misnomer!) are the smoking gun, but we cannot find a single, peer-reviewed paper that quantitatively models CO2 concentration with atmospheric temperature, whether at surface or in a pattern in the stratosphere, in a manner seriously relevant to global warming.

    Why not join in the hunt?

    After all, this is about the bottom line for AGM.

    If you can’t find a paper, please don’t clutter the airwaves with quotes from IPCC and their references. Been there, done that. I claim that the IPCC has adduced no such paper.

    Delighted if you can show me wrong.

  • luminous beauty // October 27, 2007 at 2:13 pm

    Geoff,

    You can start here:

    Svante Arrhenius, “On the Influence of Carbonic Acid in the Air Upon the Temperature of the Ground”, Philosophical Magazine 1896.

    And follow up on a century of additional research.

    Arrhenius made a mistake. Can you find it?

    What kind of scientist are you?

  • tristram shandy // October 27, 2007 at 2:16 pm

    the cores are being analyzed by an independent lab. The name of the lab is on CA, go RTFM.
    The data will be archived and made public. Now, this is not the ONLY updating that has been made to tree ring proxies. Other “scientists” have updated cores, the Sheep Mountain BCPs for example, and “The Polar Urals record was “updated” in 1998 (in this case the update included a large addition to the sparse medieval information in Briffa et al 1995), but the result was never published - instead Briffa switched to Yamal. Oh yes, the update had a very elevated MWP. Gaspe was updated in 1992, but never published or archived - the “signal” was said to be more evident in the 1983 version. Connie Woodhouse studied a number of treeline Engelmann spruce etc coming up to date, but didn’t get “interesting” results; her negative results were not published (but were archived). “

  • luminous beauty // October 27, 2007 at 2:19 pm

    JTK,

    No, we are not talking simple dendrochronology here. We are using tree rings as a proxy for past temperatures.

  • viento // October 27, 2007 at 2:23 pm

    The NH T trend in the GISS data set in 1976-2006 is indeed 0.030 K/year but in the HadCRU data set it is only 0.023 K /year which is 25% less.
    what is the explanation of the difference?

  • tristram shandy // October 27, 2007 at 2:32 pm

    For those too lazy to search for themselves or update proxy’s because its hard and expensive:
    http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=2183

    the dendro lab is in Guelph.

    http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=2189

    some prelimary data
    http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=2221

    problems with using strip bark BCP
    http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=2214

    A nice example of elliptical growth
    http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=2239#more-2239

  • doug // October 27, 2007 at 3:33 pm

    “We can already see a notable difference between modern warming and the MWP: modern temperatures are hotter.” ” So the warmest modern year is 0.53 deg.C hotter than the warmest medieval year, according to Moberg.”

    How does one reconcile the tree ring proxies with marine date contradicting these statements?

    http://www.marine.usf.edu/PDFs-and-DOCs/publications/J.Ritchie-Holivar2006.pdf

    [Response: I’m really getting tired of this kind of nonsense. The poster you refer to talks about sea surface temperature in the Gulf of Mexico; it says nothing at all about global or hemispheric average surface temperature.]

  • Eli Rabett // October 27, 2007 at 3:42 pm

    Actually Mc obtained samples, they are only updated when the measurements are complete, which, as you note is being done in a lab that has the right equipment, and we hope expertise

  • Hank Roberts // October 27, 2007 at 3:56 pm

    Sherrington? What field?

  • Hank Roberts // October 27, 2007 at 4:02 pm

    Here’s an odd pair of observations from CA:

    ——excerpt——-

    * We were horrified to discover a major “offroad” group campsite, where ancient bristlecones were harmed by…
    – makeshift latrines created by nailing boards to the trees
    – one very large tree was “topped” about 1m off the ground;
    the entire upper tree had been sawn off and used for a variety of other purposes
    * Sad news: locked gates keep people away from the top of Almagre. Also, a locked gate blocks access to the road that leads to Ruxton Park… we could only go about 100 meters past where we turned uphill when you were here.
    ——-end excerpt———

    Well, that’s why they try to keep vehicles out of the areas used for the research and why the researchers and Forest and Park Services don’t publish maps locating the trees, eh?

    CA’s now made it easy to find them for any vandal willing to walk in.

  • Glen Raphael // October 27, 2007 at 6:01 pm

    Hank, exactly what has CA done to make it easy? I must have missed that part.

    Seems mere moments ago Eli was claiming it’s soooo hard for anyone to go find these trees and sample them that it just wasn’t worth doing, yet now I hear you claiming it’s actually soooo easy to find them that if the coordinates are made available in a public database for scientists to use we’re likely to get lots of vandalism.

    Presumably done by some of those meticulous, internet-savvy, well-funded, GPS-equipped, tree-hating, science-hating vandals we hear so much about these days… :-)

  • dhogaza // October 27, 2007 at 8:33 pm

    Presumably done by some of those meticulous, internet-savvy, well-funded, GPS-equipped, tree-hating, science-hating vandals we hear so much about these days…

    You joke, but it’s a valid concern. The USFS started getting secretive about northern spotted owl nesting sites when people started using information on where to find them to shoot them.

  • Dano // October 27, 2007 at 8:42 pm

    1) It appears Sherrington is some sort of botanist, but never published (can one be a scientist without doing science? How would you know you’re close? I likely have at least an equal botanical/ecological education yet I don’t call myself a ’scientist’ ). Glad to see that expertise is being used out of his field to spread the Word about the silliness of those scientists who study man-made climate change. Maybe I can do the same in, say, particle physics.

    I’ll place his name in my ‘dead-ender’ file.

    2) I, for one, am very interested to see what Stevie Mac comes up with and what he says about it. The more knowledge gained, the better, and surely he’ll share it with the dendro community.

    Best,

    D

  • tristram shandy // October 27, 2007 at 8:49 pm

    Here some reading for you on reconstructions.

    Mr Smiths account of talk at the ASA:

    http://www.amstat-online.org/sections/envr/ssenews/ENVR_9_1.pdf

    For those too lazy to read I will excerpt a passage
    and then comment:
    “the NRC report phrased its
    conclusions cautiously, concluding it was no more than
    “plausible” (2:1 odds in favor) that the temperatures of
    the last few decades were unprecedented in recorded
    history. This is somewhat more cautious than IPCC’s summary
    statement in 2001, but one could be deceived by
    the actual published figure of Mann et al. into thinking
    the level of confidence was considerably higher than
    even IPCC of 2001 had indicated.”

    Simply, the NRC reviewed the proxy methodology and concluded it was merely plausible. So, when Cody asks simple questions or makes simple requests ( can we see the chart done this way) and he is castigated, it seems rather odd to me, given that such an august body has concluded theses proxy studies are merely plausible, and hence open to scrunity.

    My favorite line comes from Dr. Wegman of course.

    “A number of other commentators have acknowledged
    the flaws in the Mann reconstruction but have argued
    that this does not matter because the answers have been
    verified by other analyses. Ed’s own response to that was
    given in the equation …Method Wrong + Answer Correct = Bad Science.”

  • tristram shandy // October 27, 2007 at 8:57 pm

    Eli, you hope the lab has the right experience?

    You make a terrible a skeptic. You really need to step your game up. Let’s see, which lab did Graybill use when sampled the trees. He cored several trees but only archived a few? why? what was he hiding. Does he have records of the which part of the tree he took the core from? how many cores per tree, records of which were strip bark ( which distorts the growth and rings) and which were not? pictures of the trees ( they had cameras in 1980) to verify his selection criteria. Soil samples ( yes SteveMc had those taken) maps to facilitate the resampling in future years to provide out of sample testing?

    Eli. I award you no points. ( extra credit however, if you get the movie allusion )

  • tristram shandy // October 27, 2007 at 9:06 pm

    Hank,

    Since the expedition found vandalism prior to publishing the photos or GPS coordinates only a simpleton would assert that the publishing them would somehow make the actual, merely possible. The only vandals who have an interest in destroying treemometers are those vandals who took data from the trees and refuse to archive it. Next you’ll accuse Surfacestations of promoting of facilitating vandalism. Stick to science. Unless of course you intend to win some purple hearts John Kerry style, but shooting yourself in the foot.

  • tristram shandy // October 27, 2007 at 9:16 pm

    Glen,

    Eli is caught in a rather mundane falsehood. Mundane because he’s repeating the excuse that Micheal Mann gave. I much prefer that he invent his own lie rather than copy Michael Manns. The simple fact is they have the answer they like and don’t want it checked. Further if you do check and find and issue, they will say it doesnt matter, that the balance of evidence is for AGW. It’s rather like the tactic that tamino accused cody of. You find something wrong with the method, they say: well the method may be wrong, but the answer was right. You rememeber those kids in school. The partial credit crew. Now, Eli should know better.

    Let me quote him:

    “Interesting discussion. As we all know text books have mistakes, I had pointed one out and there was a question on the test which was on that point. A student followed the text and I marked it wrong. Of course a lengthy discussion ensued. Finally tiring, I told him he should mail the test to the textbook author for the grade he wanted cause he was not getting it from me. End of discussion”

  • Joe Duck // October 27, 2007 at 10:13 pm

    The simple fact is they have the answer they like and don’t want it checked.

    I don’t think this is a fair criticism, but it does deserve some response from Eli who has not made a good case for the difficulties of sampling and analysis in light of the fact that McIntyre will appear to complete a similar study at the cost of some lab analysis and a few tanks of gas?

    New to the hocky stick debate, I’m floored by how problematic the tree ring approach is to making climate generalizations.

    Am I to understand that the Mann “hocky stick” data is all based on a single study which sampled only a few dozen trees?

  • tristram shandy // October 27, 2007 at 10:46 pm

    Joe ,

    No, Dr. Mann did not base his results on one set of trees. However, because of his flawed methodology one particular series of trees, the Bristlecone Pines, had a disporportionate impact on the results. These trees also had a particular flaw ( trips of bark removed ) that leads to elliptical growth patterns. The Wegman panel concluded that the method was flawed and that the BCP should not be used. Still other researchers persist in using these trees. When Issues with manns reconstruction surface, the typical response, as tamino illustrates, is to pull out Moberg. Moberg has its owns issues most notably in the proxys ( sediment cores) taken off the coast of Oman. Here is what you are asked to believe. In the modern period we see a global warming of about .6C in the last century.
    As measured by thousands of thermometers, placed ( non uniformly) over the entire global. These devices are read daily in most cases. The measurements are rounded up or down to the nearest degree. These readings are then correlated with the width of tree rings, taken from handfulls of trees from a dozen or so sites scattered about the northern hemisphere. The tree rings are taken by coreing a tree with a neat little hole. The ring is measured down to the millimeter. assuming the tree is round, the position you core at shouldn’t matter. We have round trees in my neighborhood, called telephone poles. Anyways,
    the width of the ring, which “correlates” with temperature during a part of the year, is then correlated with the thermometer sequence and from that one concludes that 1000 years ago the tempture was .2C cooler than today. These treemometers are so accurate that a dozen or so can be used to tell the temperature of the whole NH. Makes you wonder why we have thermometers. That my friend, is what you expected to believe, and if you have the temerity to question it, why then you are clearly in denial because the ice is melting as well.

  • Dano // October 27, 2007 at 11:15 pm

    The cheer squad has offshored, if you will, and landed ashore at Tamino’s place.

    The rest of the planet is no longer debating whether a few quibbles matter wrt policy. The rest of the planet is discussing what to do next.

    Welcome to the discussion that the rest of the planet is having. We are discussing decarbonizing, land use, environmental refugees, less freshwater and more population, etc. We are not quibbling over a few data points, as the overwhelming evidence is clear.

    Decisionmakers are briefed by staff who read journal articles, not vanity blogs, hence the reason why you may be surprised over what the planet is discussing.

    Best,

    D

    [Response: The link in your comment is inoperative. Send the link, and I’ll fix the comment.

    And you’re certainly right that the denialists are making a concerted effort to hijack my blog. I’m seriously reconsidering my liberal comment policy.]

  • tamino // October 27, 2007 at 11:22 pm

    Joe,

    You appear to have an interest in climate reconstructions, and an open mind.

    Tristram Shandy wants you to get the impression that if he can discredit one particular tree ring evidence, the whole paleoclimate reconstruction thing falls apart like a house of cards.

    In fact climate reconstructions are based on: the instrumental record, documentary and historical evidence, tree rings, corals, marine sediments, lake and peat sediments, speleotherms, istopic abundances from ice samples, glacial length and mass balance records, and borehole temperature profiles. When all these evidences are combined, they paint a consistent picture. Tristram shandy really hates that picture.

    Don’t take my word for it. Don’t take his! Everybody commenting here (including myself) has already formed an opinion. Go get the National Academy of Sciences Report and read it for yourself. You’ll have to “register” to download the report, but it’s non-invasive registration (they don’t even ask your name, just your zip code).

  • MrPete // October 27, 2007 at 11:27 pm

    Hank,

    >>”Well, that’s why they try to keep vehicles
    >>out of the areas used for the research and
    >>why the researchers and Forest and Park
    >>Services don’t publish maps locating the trees, eh?”

    Not even close. The trees are all easily accessed on public land. The locked gates protect communication equipment (top) and some drinking water reservoirs (base).

    We were sad because we faild to accomplish two secondary goals: visiting the climate monitoring station at Ruxton Park, and visiting the overlook on top of Almagre. Neither gate stopped us from our primary goals.

    >>CA’s now made it easy to find them
    >>for any vandal willing to walk in.

    I thought about that, quite seriously. Sadly, those who destroyed such valuable trees most likely had no clue about what they were doing. They were just enjoying a weekend beer-blast campout in the mountains, and wanted some convenient firewood.

    The truth usually involves far more mundane realities than political statements.

    If you want to learn something, come on over to the citizen science discussions at Climate Audit. And visit the Almagre Adventure photo gallery at picasaweb.google.com/Almagre.Bristlecones.2007

    PS: Dano, thanks for your encouragement! There really *are* a few folks looking for the truth. I hope that Mssrs Rabbett and Bloom will soon be joining you.

  • Hans Erren // October 27, 2007 at 11:31 pm

    eli wrote:
    Ice cores are major expeditions because you need drilling equipment, a way of preserving the core, people who know how to take the samples, etc. boreholes, also are a specialists game, then you need the equipment and expertise to analyze what you have sampled.
    And also it takes more than twenty years to publicly archive the data…

  • Geoff Sherrington // October 28, 2007 at 12:10 am

    I am a scientist, I have published in peer-reviewed international scientific publications and spoken at several international conferences. That’s incidental information for those challenged by Internet searches.

    What type of scientist? An honest one, modestly successful.

    When you bunnies have finished your [edit] comments, please attempt to answer the serious question. I note than none of you has.

    It’s harder than one might think, especially if one was not a successful scientist.

    [Response: The same comment which asked what kind of scientist you are, also pointed you to the *original* reference (Arrhenius 1896) giving a “quantitative derivation of the assertion that a doubling of atmospheric CO2 will raise the global atmospheric temperature.”

    I believe the question about what kind of scientist you are, was meant to discover what your *field* is. A google scholar search on your name returns two books, one on English Education, another on the selection of the capitol site in politics. Plain old google located an article in the journal of the Australian Rhododendron Society.]

  • tristram shandy // October 28, 2007 at 1:59 am

    Vandals at work:

    In 1964 a young student at
    the University of North Carolina while doing research on the bristlecone pines apparently
    broke his only coring tool. In an effort to not delay his studies the young man requested
    permission to cut down the tree at which he was looking. The US Forest Service granted
    him permission. The young man cut down the tree and took it to the lab and began to
    count the rings, the young man realized what he had done. The US Forest Service had
    granted him permission to cut down a tree that was 4862 years old, and he had done it.
    This man had killed the “oldest living thing on earth” (Leonrad Miller).

  • tristram shandy // October 28, 2007 at 2:01 am

    Hans the truth is the left them out of the fridge and they melted.

  • tristram shandy // October 28, 2007 at 2:18 am

    Joe, duck because tamino is flinging some smelly stuff around. Let’s roll the tape:

    “Tristram Shandy wants you to get the impression that if he can discredit one particular tree ring evidence, the whole paleoclimate reconstruction thing falls apart like a house of cards.”

    Nonsense. First he asked a question about Mann using only one series. I corrected that. And I pointed out, as did wegman, that this series was flawed. And I pointed out that other continue to use this series. I said nothing about the whole of paleoclimatology. Only the mann and his methods and those who continue to use this series when they know it’s questionable value.
    Further raising questions is not discrediting, but defending discredited data is beneath you. or not.

    “In fact climate reconstructions are based on: the instrumental record, documentary and historical evidence, tree rings, corals, marine sediments, lake and peat sediments, speleotherms, istopic abundances from ice samples, glacial length and mass balance records, and borehole temperature profiles. When all these evidences are combined, they paint a consistent picture. Tristram shandy really hates that picture.”

    Well actually I don’t hate the picture. I would like to see the scientists involved follow methods that allow for independent verification. Not merely peer review of a paper, but independent replication. When a scientist refuses to archive an ice core after 20 years, one cannot but question the method. The result cannot be duplicated. So, I don’t hate the picture. I don’t know what it is because of the shoddy methods employed. I can live very nicely with a picture of the past where there is no MWP. I cannot abide a picture of the present where so called scientists hide their data and methods. Now, I would not accuse them of malefeasence in this. There is no direct eveidence of this. So, do not belittle yourself as a scientist and pretend that you can read my mind.

    So Joe, you see the difference. between open minded and closed minded mind readers?

    thanks tamino. I award you a Kerry style purple heart. You have achieved elihood

    “Don’t take my word for it. Don’t take his! Everybody commenting here (including myself) has already formed an opinion. ”

    A Second kerry purple heart for the Open mind.
    a true skeptic suspends judgment has has no opinion.
    And third Purple heart for admitting he has formed an opinion, but has an open mind.

  • tamino // October 28, 2007 at 2:26 am

    Joe,

    The fact that Tristram Shandy says that a true skeptic has no opinion, speaks volumes.

    Take my advice; read the National Academy of Sciences report, it’s extremely informative and very objective. Keep an open mind, and form your own opinion.

  • Hank Roberts // October 28, 2007 at 3:00 am

    http://www.fs.fed.us/biology/resources/pubs/plants/l_botanica_summer_03.pdf.

    Visitors can hike the Methuselah Walk that passes nearby, but the tree is not
    marked so hikers don’t know which one it is. Fewer than 50 people today can identify the tree, according to John Louth, forest manager of the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest.
    As one of those people, Louth guided Jared Milarch and a few helpers in October after the group gained special permission from federal officials. On a Milarch home video, Louth can be seen addressing the group before beginning the four-mile hike to the site: “I need your word you are not going to publicize full frontal pictures of this tree,” he said solemnly.

  • MrPete // October 28, 2007 at 3:16 am

    Never been to the Methuselah walk. How likely that a stupid brute (can’t think of a better word right now) would unknowingly destroy the tree? That’s apparently what happened here.

  • luminous beauty // October 28, 2007 at 3:18 am

    tristram,

    Believing that a ‘true’ skeptic has no opinion is itself an opinion.

    Thanks for making your political bias obvious. It explains so much.

  • cody // October 28, 2007 at 7:26 am

    Petro

    You asked, if I see a legitimate continuous series showing sharp differences between MWP and today, will I accept the default explanation should be that they are different phenomena and probably have different causes?

    Yes. That’s the whole point of the argument isn’t it? If modern warming really is a unique phenomenon, we have a completely different situation from if it is simply a repeat of the year 1000.

    Not bristle cone pines, though, as long as the consensus is they are not temperature proxies. But a legitimate series, sure.

  • Mitchell // October 28, 2007 at 8:09 am

    tamino: “I know about the surfacestations project. I also know that their efforts would be truly laudible if they had a clue about how to evaluate data, and didn’t exhibit blatant bias and a clear prejudgement of the result”
    For the benefit of all, can you expand on the “blatant bias and clear prejudgment” you find on surfacestations?

  • Geoff Sherrington // October 28, 2007 at 10:10 am

    Re Commentator

    I also noted that there was no need to hark back to IPCC references, Arrhenius included. IPCC WG4 Historical Overview p 105 and paper cited as Arrhenius, S., 1896: On the infl uence of carbonic acid in the air upon the
    temperature on the ground, Philos. Mag., 41, 237–276.

    This eminent scientist did not show that a doubling of atmospheric CO2 would change atmospheric temperature (or some part of the global atmosphere) by any particular amount. His was a lab-scale experiment. We’re looking for living world data.

    Are you guys, as a group, incapable of interpretation of a simple question as well as unable to use searches to get right answers?

    My qualifications, identity and publications are settled science. You guys should learn how to audit information to get plausible, if not acceptable, answers. In my case, as seldom in science, there are also absolutely correct answers.

    [Response: Arrhenius does indeed give an estimate of global warming due to doubling CO2: about 5 deg.C. For further references regarding CO2 influence on climate, see the response to John Finn’s comment a little later in this thread.

    Lots of people have commented here claiming to be scientists, and I’ve never had cause to doubt any of them. Until now. You flaunt your “scientist” status, and it appears you interpreted a simple question designed to determine what field you work in as an assault on your credentials. But you don’t say what your field is, and the only journal article I’ve found under your name is in the journal of the Australian Rhododendron Society. So: put up or shut up.]

  • Geoff Sherrington // October 28, 2007 at 10:36 am

    BTW, here’s another foundation question for a blog headed “Open Mind”.

    How do you calibrate proxies for temperatures older than the time that temperature records started? Does this not require an absolute acceptance of uniformitarianism? Does it not also require an element of circular argument? (We calibrated O isotopes against T and now we calibrate T against O isotopes. We hope like hell that all else of importance has stayed constant, even though we might not know what is important).

    Take oxygen isotopes in ice cores as an example and assume that you have pefectly-taken samples with perfect counting of features. The theory, roughly put, is that water evaporation fractionates isotopes and later precipitation and freezing elsewhere preserves the fractionation. Thus, if we know the relation between T and O ratio when temps were taken, we can extrapolate earlier. If we assume uniformitarianism is absolute.

    Here’s a problem. Higher temperatures over water can cause evaporation and hence our postulated fractionation. But higher temperatures can come from radiation (as affected, say, by cloud cover or solar irradiance changes) or by convection (as for example, from storm activity) or by conduction (as for example, from a nearby lava flow). How do you convert this qualitative explanation into a quantitative measure when you have just been presented with 3 variations to the uniformitarian rigour?

  • MrPete // October 28, 2007 at 11:36 am

    One answer to the destruction issue: Methuselah’s site requires a four-mile hike.

    The Almagre sites are within 100 meters of public (forest service) roads.

  • John Finn // October 28, 2007 at 1:28 pm

    I’m probably a bit late with this but here goes anyway.

    LB says

    If two discontinuous and non-related, but partially over-lapping data series can be shown to be in significant agreement per a commonly derived factor, such as temperature, they are corroborating lines of evidence and the evidence is made stronger because of it.

    Yes the data overlap – and it’s true there is some agreement in the over-lapping period. There is a very good reason for this. The temperature data is used to calibrate the proxy data. It’s pretty much a requirement of the proxy reconstruction that seriously amiss.

    The problem, as Cody and others have pointed out, is that later proxy data diverge from the thermometer record quite significantly. And by significantly I mean around 0.3 degrees C in a couple of decades as seen in the studies by Briffa et al and Cook/Esper et al. This is why Steve McIntyre (on Climateaudit) is demanding that the proxies be brought up to date.

    You would have thought that climate scientists would welcome the chance to show that more recent proxy data does indeed track late 20th century warming as this would strongly support their contention that modern warming is greater than that during the MWP.

    It would also settle the “global v local” argument. It is the proxies that suggest the MWP warming was ‘local’, so just think how much stronger the AGW case would be if latter day proxy data showed global-wide warming.

    The lack of curiosity from AGW supporters on this issue speaks volumes.

    Tamino

    Although I generally disagree with your arguments I normally respect the validity of the points you raise. But I’m disappointed with this effort. The Moberg/Gisstemp comparison is a classic case of “Apples and Oranges” and I suspect you know it. However, you can redeem yourself with a post which addresses the question posed by
    Geoff Sherrington, i.e.

    “Question: Where is the quantitative derivation of the assertion that a doubling of atmospheric CO2 will raise the global atmospheric temperature, by X or Y degrees - or even cool it. “

    I agree with Geoff. There isn’t anything. Prove us wrong!

    [Response, The Moberg/GISSTEMP comparison is right on point. I suspect you just don’t like the outcome.

    Those who suggest that Arrhenius (1896) is not an example of a quantitative analysis of the effect of increased CO2 on global climate, must not have read it. Those wishing to review the progress of our understanding of the climate effect of greenhouse gases may enjoy these:

    Langley, S.P. (1884). “Researches on Solar Heat and Its Absorption by the Earth’s Atmosphere, A Report of the Mount Whitney Expedition.” Professional Papers of the Signal Service 15, 1-242.

    Langley, S.P. (1886). “Observations on Invisible Heat-Spectra and the Recognition of Hitherto Ummeasured Wave-Lengths, Made at the Alleghany Observatory.” Philosophical Magazine 31, 394-409.

    Arrhenius, Svante (1896). “On the Influence of Carbonic Acid in the Air Upon the Temperature of the Ground.” Philosophical Magazine 41,

    Dines, W.H. (1917). “The Heat Balance of the Atmosphere.” J. Royal Meteorological Society 43, 151-58.

    Hulburt, E.O. (1931). “The Temperature of the Lower Atmosphere of the Earth.” Physical Review 38, 1876-90.

    Kaplan, Lewis D. (1952). “On the Pressure Dependence of Radiative Heat Transfer in the Atmosphere.” J. Meteorology 9, 1-12.

    Plass, G.N. (1956). “The Influence of the 15 Band on the Atmospheric Infra-Red Cooling Rate.” Quarterly J. Royal Meteorological Society 82, 310-29

    Plass, G.N. (1956). “Carbon Dioxide and the Climate.” American Scientist 44, 302-16.

    Plass, G.N. (1956). “Effect of Carbon Dioxide Variations on Climate.” American J. Physics 24, 376-87.

    Möller, Fritz (1963). “On the Influence of Changes in the CO2 Concentration in Air on the Radiation Balance of the Earth’s Surface and on the Climate.” J. Geophysical Research 68, 3877-86.

    Manabe, Syukuro, and Richard T. Wetherald (1967). “Thermal Equilibrium of the Atmosphere with a Given Distribution of Relative Humidity.” J. Atmospheric Sciences 24, 241-59.

    Schlesinger, Michael E. (1984). “Climate Model Simulations of CO2-Induced Climatic Change.” Advances in Geophysics 26, 141-235.]

  • RomanM // October 28, 2007 at 2:54 pm

    John Finn, you have hit on the exact problem with Tamino’s initial posting:
    “The Moberg/Gisstemp comparison is a classic case of “Apples and Oranges” and I suspect you know it.”
    The data to which the lines are fitted are very different. The standard errors of the slopes are not given - only a comparison that one is 64% bigger. No, I am not referring to the standard errors which the statistics program kicks out, because, in this case, at least one of these is not quite correct. The residuals for the Moberg fit have a lag1 autocorrelation of .80 complicating the situation. Could they already be smoothed? However, the largest problem is that the Moberg estimates (even assuming that they are unbiased for temperature) have a standard error which is an order of magnitude greater than that of the (probably adjusted for “quality control”) temperature data. Adjust the standard error of the slope estimate to take this into account. I would have done this, but I couldn’t find that value in a cursory examination of the Moberg paper nor in some of the supplementary materials available on the Nature web site. No statistician would make such comparisons without taking into account the uncertainties involved. It’s not a case of apples and oranges, but more like comparing giant pumpkins and peas!

  • John F. Pittman // October 28, 2007 at 3:54 pm

    From the report: It appears that NAS agrees with Steve Mc on several suggestions he has been vilified over. So I also would say don’t take anyody’s word for it, read it. Or parts that interest you.

    Large-scale surface temperature reconstructions have the potential to further improve our knowledge of temperature variations over the last 2,000 years, particularly if additional proxy evidence can be identified and obtained from areas where the coverage is relatively sparse and for time periods before A.D. 1600 and especially before A.D. 900. Furthermore, it would be helpful to update proxy records that were collected decades ago, in order to develop more reliable calibrations with the instrumental record. Improving access to data used in publications would also increase confidence in the results of large-scale surface temperature reconstructions both inside and outside the scientific community. New analytical methods, or more careful use of existing ones, may also help circumvent some of the existing limitations associated with surface temperature reconstructions based on multiple proxies. Finally, because some of the most important potential consequences of climate change are linked to changes in regional circulation patterns, hurricane activity, and the frequency and intensity of droughts and floods, regional and large-scale reconstructions of changes in other climatic variables, such as precipitation, over the last 2,000 years would provide a valuable complement to those made for temperature.

  • Hank Roberts // October 28, 2007 at 4:58 pm

    > How do you calibrate …?

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6V61-4J9X34J-2&_user=10&_coverDate=03%2F30%2F2006&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=fc683722d59ce76112de738a3103c1aa
    http://www.clim-past-discuss.net/3/1063/2007/cpd-3-1063-2007.pdf
    http://www.gfy.ku.dk/~kka/icecores_palaeoclimate.pdf

    > Does this not require an absolute
    > acceptance of uniformitarianism?

    In what field, and journals, do you have publications, please?

    Any relation to this person named Geoffrey Sherrington?

    http://www.jennifermarohasy.com/blog/archives/001281.html

  • RomanM // October 28, 2007 at 6:08 pm

    Gee, Hank, you left out an even better reference for how calibration in paleoclimatology studies can be done. Try reading the Supplementary method 1 document for the Moberg paper which is part of this thread. This topic explains the methods for estimating uncertainties in the reconstruction. It is available at the Nature web site. I quote two passages verbatim:

    As a practically more useful way to estimate the uncertainty B, we use instead the assumption that any long enough (a millennium or so) annually resolved time series that can be considered as an approximate estimate of the NH mean temperatures could be used as a surrogate for the instrumental data. …

    …and later:

    We consider the following five time series as appropriate approximations of NH mean temperature variability in the last millennium or so:

    · The multi-proxy NH annual mean temperature reconstruction by Mann et al.3 starting in AD 1000.
    · The multi-proxy NH summer temperature reconstruction by Jones et al.4 starting in AD 1000 .
    · The tree-ring based warm-season sensitive temperature reconstruction for NH extratropical regions by Esper et al.5 starting in AD 831.
    · The warm season (mainly summer) temperature sensitive northern high-latitude tree-ring chronology average by Briffa6 starting in AD 1000
    · The NH annual mean temperatures from the transient run with the ECHO-G model7-8, forced with reconstructed solar and volcanic radiative forcing and greenhouse gas concentrations, starting in AD 1000. This is the same model run as shown in Fig. 2c in the main text. Here, we use the model data for the period AD 1000-1910. The subsequent data were omitted because the model experiment excluded all other anthropogenic effects than greenhouse gases; hence the warming trend after around 1910 in the model run may be overestimated. …

    Now, let me understand this correctly. We are going to use these other reconstructions AND their inferred results and uncertainties as a basis for calibrating this study. Then we will justify the believability of our reconstruction by pointing out that they are completely consistent with the results obtained in these other studies. As a bonus, since one of these “annually resolved time series that can be considered as an approximate estimate of the NH mean temperatures” is a computer “model” designed to match CO2 levels, we will also immediately be able to see the CO2 signal in our reconstruction. Oops, slight problem – when the greenhouses gases are included, the temperatures were overestimated enough that we needed to cut it off at 1910. Yeah, it is complicated, but I think I get it.

    I won’t ask you if you have publications nor do I feel the need to search the web for any demeaning information about you.

  • luminous beauty // October 28, 2007 at 6:26 pm

    Speaking of comparing giant pumpkins and peas, how about this:

    “The temperature data is used to calibrate the proxy data.”

    The temperature data in question is the global average temperature.

    The temperature record against which tree-rings are correlated is the temperature record specific to the locale of the trees being measured.

    They are not equivalent.

    There are other factors that affect tree growth. Soil Ph is one.

    What could cause changes in soil Ph? How could that affect this so-called divergence problem?

  • Hank Roberts // October 28, 2007 at 6:54 pm

    I’m not a scientist, I don’t claim to be a scientist. I’m a reader here, as I assume you are unless you claim more than that. I’m trying to ask questions and understand the science.

    Do you claim you’re a scientist, in discussing climate science? If you do, would you think it unfair of me to ask who has reason to trust you? I don’t even need to know your real name, but I do think it fair to ask who has published who’d vouch for you.

    This isn’t a chatroom, so I expect less puffery, and am assuming you’re here to make a serious effort to read and understand.

    With me so far?

    I think you’re misunderstood “calibration” — calibration is the work of tying what’s measurable in the source material — the isotope ratios, pollen species counts and such information found in the actual physical source, the ice or sediment core — to, in this case, the estimated level of atmospheric or ocean gases and temperatures at the time the cored material was laid down in geologic time.

    Agree on that? Or are we using different definitions for the word “calibration” in the studies we’re talking about?

    Now you go to Moberg, which I think is talking about something rather different. They’re taking proxies that have been calibrated in the literature, that they list, as approximate estimates of Northern Hemisphere signals. They also use one model.

    They’re studying the period before what’s generally considered the beginning of human effect — late 1800s to early 1900s.

    They exclude the model run after that time.

    What’s the problem there? You say the paper said this:

    “we use the model data for the period AD 1000-1910. The subsequent data were omitted because the model experiment excluded all other anthropogenic effects than greenhouse gases”

    For the time period after 1910, that means the model excluded effects including sulfate aerosols — right?

  • dhogaza // October 28, 2007 at 7:34 pm

    Oops, slight problem – when the greenhouses gases are included, the temperatures were overestimated enough that we needed to cut it off at 1910. Yeah, it is complicated, but I think I get it.

    Because they say

    The subsequent data were omitted because the model experiment excluded all other anthropogenic effects than greenhouse gases; hence the warming trend after around 1910 in the model run may be overestimated. …

    “other anthropogenic effects” might include aerosols, for instance. Continuing forward from 1910 without taking this into effect will clearly give incorrect results. Why do you have a problem with them not including results that they know would be wrong?

  • dhogaza // October 28, 2007 at 7:35 pm

    I meant to say “I doubt you do, because they say …”

    Oops :)

  • RomanM // October 28, 2007 at 8:42 pm

    Hank wrote:
    “Do you claim you’re a scientist, in discussing climate science? If you do, would you think it unfair of me to ask who has reason to trust you? I don’t even need to know your real name, but I do think it fair to ask who has published who’d vouch for you.”
    In your response to Geoff Sherrington, you also wrote:
    “In what field, and journals, do you have publications, please? Any relation to this person named Geoffrey Sherrington?”
    It appeared to me that this was an ad hominem aimed at him and I took exception to such a personal put-down. If indeed it wasn’t, then please correect me. I would also think that in an intellectual discussion, you would need to “trust someone” only when they offer information or an opinion for which they have not offered evidence. I expect to be judged on my argument, not my reputation.
    “I think you’re misunderstood “calibration” …”
    I don’t think that you need to explain calibration to me. I am reasonably familiar with the process of fitting models to particular situations by estimating parameters.
    “Now you go to Moberg, which I think is talking about something rather different. They’re taking proxies that have been calibrated in the literature, that they list, as approximate estimates of Northern Hemisphere signals. They also use one model.”
    And on WHAT have these proxies been calibrated? On the same set of temperature data in the modern era. In order to believe that they have valid information to offer about pre-thermometer times, we have to believe that their results are meaningful. Some of these reconstructions have had severe doubts raised about the validity of their data structures and their methodology. The side effect that I raised was that by tying these reconstructions to their study, Moberg et al. are not producing yet another “independent” corroboration of previous reconstructions as claimed by the IPCC in their reports.
    “They’re studying the period before what’s generally considered the beginning of human effect — late 1800s to early 1900s. They exclude the model run after that time. What’s the problem there? …”
    The problem is that the models do NOT reflect the temperature patterns for the time period for which we have the best instrumental information. If they are incapable of taking “all other anthropogenic effects than greenhouse gases” into effect, why should I believe that the earlier time period (for which the instumental data does not exist) WAS modelled accurately ? I would think that in this case particularly there should be some justification the problem is indeed the greenhouse gases and not the fact that an inadequate model was used.

  • tristram shandy // October 28, 2007 at 9:19 pm

    Luminous.

    The statement that a true skeptic suspends judgement is not an opinion. It is a statement recapitulating the statements of classical skeptics. Since you think Hume a skeptic, I am skeptical of your expertise in this area. As for my political slant, there you go again. Many veterans of foreigns of foreign wars, regardless of the political affliliations, find Mr Kerry’s purple hearts a joke. Especially, those who actually are on disability because they lost limbs.
    That you would jump to such a conclusion, and that your knowledge of intellectual history is so shallow, leads me to to question your ability to make judgments on other issues. Part of the humour in all this is watching the gullible. If they swallowed Gore without so much as a burp, watch what else they will swallow. I hear that the history channell has a special on the lost book of Nostradamous. Just saying. Don’t infer anything from my comment. Some day I will tell you my life story. Do you get that joke?

  • Hans Erren // October 28, 2007 at 9:39 pm

    The same comment which asked what kind of scientist you are, also pointed you to the *original* reference (Arrhenius 1896) giving a “quantitative derivation of the assertion that a doubling of atmospheric CO2 will raise the global atmospheric temperature.”

    Did you actually READ Arrhenius? His math was wrong, his input data was wrong and his data processing was wrong. How wrong can you get? He ended up with a climate sensitivity of 5, which he stubbornly maintained although Angstom pointed several times out that he was wrong. Must be the aura of a Nobel Laureate, although his Nobel prize was on electrochemistry. Strange because nobody relies on Nobel Laureate Linus Pauling for Vitamin C knowledge.

  • tristram shandy // October 28, 2007 at 9:56 pm

    Tamino,

    Yes, it does speak volumes that I suspend judgement.

    When a scientist says, I collected ice cores, and these ice cores show X, therefore Y. I suspend
    Judgement. I have no Opinion. It’s words on
    a page.

    But it’s peer reviewed. Well, peer review does nothing for the truth value of the statement in question. Peer review means:
    A.) it’s WORTH my time to read.
    B.) there are no OBVIOUS FLAWS.

    What does it take to move a skeptic from the state of “suspension of judgement” to the state of belief, and then what does it take to move him from belief to knowledge, and then from knowledge to certainty?

    I don’t have the time or inclination to educate you entirely, since you should do something on your own, but this much should suffice. The bare minimum is this. Any scientist, I assume you know some, will tell you that the hallmark of scientific truth is “repeatability”. Repeatability is important to remove factors such as Observer Bias. For example, If exxon funds a study, we would like to repeat it independently to remove the possibility of bias. In order to repeat a result and CONFIRM ( not verify but confirm) it’s truth status we need several things ( got a paper and pencil, dear )

    1. A clear description of the method. Source code if you use a computer, formulas if you calculated otherwise. (Note, you seldom archive or display the exact steps you go through. That’s journalism and rhetoric, which is ok I suppose)

    2. The data. All the data and nothing but the data. that means the data you looked at and tossed out. That means the source data and all transformations and all steps to perform the transformations. Every last bit. Yes, made publically available. The data of science is part of the commons. It is not yours or Manns or Thompsons to sit on. It belongs in the public realm. No ifs ands or buts. It is our common heritage. It is our key to the future and past. Do not defend the abhorrent practice of refusing to make the data of climate science public. Do not look the other way or change the subject. Not one single yes but. Either you stand for Open science or not.

    If the data is available and the method is available and SOUND, then I would not withhold judgement, provided the result is replicated. One simply takes the data, applies the method ( if it is sound) and replicates the result. Skepticism about this particular matter vanishes. POOF! simple as pie.

    You wish me to form an opinion in a non scientific manner. You want me to believe words on a page. Or decide democratically by counting heads at the IPCC. Sorry, neither is science. Consider the advice you gave Joe. Don’t believe Tamino, Dont believe Tristram, BUT RATHER do what tamino does and read a paper. I respect the NAS, but sadly I don’t buy appeals to authority.

    I would suggest Joe read them. And If NAS presents data in their paper and methods I suggest he try to duplicate their results. Nothing replaces the replication of results. Not your babble , not my babble, not NAS babble, not McIntyre babble, not Wegman babble. So, that you tell joe to “read and be healed” is somewhat fatuous. You haven’t disappointed me.

  • tristram shandy // October 28, 2007 at 10:13 pm

    Roman,

    I find it funny that the first thing they do is run off to google to hunt for pedigree and motives. Funny, they never take the same interest in the anonymous warmists.

    Very telling I think. Imagine the confusion it would cause if I told them my real name :James Hansen ( a sad but ironic twist of fate) I find it most disconcerting that I cannot use my real name, because if I did they would surely think I was lying. I also find it telling that they so readily believe everything they read in google. For grins one day I went on RC and selected a denialist name, and spouted AGW orthodoxy.
    Here they all lept to the conclusion that I was a convert. There is a saying in the law ” false in one, false in all” I believe there is an analog here:
    Gullible in one, gullible in all. FWIW.

    Good to see you again, I will drop a hint in the future from one jester to another.

  • Hank Roberts // October 28, 2007 at 10:14 pm

    > how wrong can you get?

    We’re not talking about the founder of a religion here.

    Pointing to the first person to publish is to help the reader start — by reading cites and seeing what ideas proved productive of good science over time.

    Imperfect founder? No problem in science, happens all the time. Ideas grow beyond the people who start them, or they don’t get cited at all.

  • guthrie // October 28, 2007 at 11:11 pm

    HHmm, I wonder if skeptics ever make up their minds….

    AS for trolls like tristam shandy, they merely demonstrate a lack of civilised behaviour that means they are not worth paying attention to.

  • tamino // October 28, 2007 at 11:13 pm

    the first thing they do is run off to google to hunt for pedigree and motives

    It was Geoff Sherrington himself who suggested internet searches, snidely remarking that we must be search-challenged. If he hadn’t mentioned it, it wouldn’t even have occured to me.

    He started by claiming that he and other scientists are crying out for a paper showing a quantitative relationship between CO2 and climate, but get no satisfaction because there is none. Luminous beauty points him to Arrhenius (1896), who certainly didn’t get the numbers right but did establish the fundamental principle. I gave John Finn a reasonable list of papers outlining the development of the theory. Sherrington is as wrong as wrong can be; his comment only sews doubt, stirs up trouble, and contributes less than zero to the dialogue.

    Luminous beauty asks what kind of scientist he is; I took this to mean what his field of research is. I didn’t doubt that he was what he claimed to be, but suspected (probably as luminous beauty did) that he worked in some field unrelated to climate science. But he doesn’t tell us, instead he flaunts his status as scientist, talking about his peer-reviewed papers in international scientific journals and presentations at international conferences. And yes, he snidely hints that we must be search-challenged.

    Looks pretty fishy to me. What kind of scientist won’t even say what his field of research is? So I took HIS SUGGESTION and did the search. The result? Nothing, unless you count the journal of the Australian Rhododendron Society as a “peer-reviewed international science journal.” Now it looks very fishy, and not just to me.

    When we next hear from him, he reiterates his status with “My qualifications, identity and publications are settled science.” But he still won’t tell us his field.

    I have never, on this or any other blog, seen anyone make such a big deal about how qualified he is as a scientist. I’ve seen lots of posts and comments from scientists who chose to remain anonymous, but I’ve never seen one who staunchly refuses even to hint what his *field* is. The real damage to Geoff Sherrington’s image on this thread came not from luminous beauty, or me, or Hank Roberts, it came from Geoff Sherrington.

    So here’s a message for Geoff: either prove that our suspicions are unfounded by telling us what your field is and pointing us to some of your peer-reviewed international science journal publications, or admit you lied, or never comment here again.

    Here’s a message for everybody: keep a civil tongue in your head.

  • harold // October 28, 2007 at 11:25 pm

    The reason why “the denialists are making a concerted effort to hijack my blog” (this post :) )
    is simply that Steve M. has posted a rather silly remark by EliRabbet:

    You hike out to the ass end of nowhere, take a core (from the right tree, and bring it back. Now you have to analyze it. . . . . . .,

    on this post here :)

    A foolish remark which he has not commented on, I hope he will.

  • Hank Roberts // October 29, 2007 at 12:17 am

    > My real name …

    If the IP number you’re posting from is registered to the name you claim is yours, it’s a good start if you want to be trusted.

    > For grins one day I went on RC and
    > selected a denialist name, and
    > spouted AGW orthodoxy.

    Internet use with intent to deceive?

    > … one jester to another.

    Ah, then you’re a good guy in your own mind.

    [Response: I let this comment through to make a point.

    I have no interest in tracking down tristram shandy, he hasn’t given any reason to believe he’s anything other than what he claims to be.

    I have admonished everybody to be civil. I’ll take this opportunity to admonish everybody to be relevant. That applies to the people I agree with as well as those I don’t. Don’t get me wrong; your comment is definitely not the height of rudeness, in fact it’s very mild, and I wouldn’t claim that you haven’t been provoked. But from now on I intend to apply a *very strict* standard of civility. And to anyone who feels they have a score to settle: do it somewhere else.

    Comments which mix substantive content with mild snarkiness will be edited, or may be just plain deleted; it’s up to me. Comments with extreme uncivility, and those with zero substantive comment, will be just plain deleted. The judge of civility will be me. It’s my house.]

  • Boris // October 29, 2007 at 3:41 am

    tristram said:

    “That my friend, is what you expected to believe, and if you have the temerity to question it, why then you are clearly in denial because the ice is melting as well.”

    Perhaps the window did more damage than we had assumed? At any rate, the reconstructions need not be believed at all–I’m sure you’re aware of the massive amount of evidence for AGW. But tell me this [edit], what evidence is there for a warm MWP–aside from a few vineyards in your merry ol’ England and a warmer Iceland (rather close to England, dontcha think?) what evidence is there that the MWP was warm and global rather than a European regional climate event?

    [edit]

  • luminous beauty // October 29, 2007 at 3:43 am

    tristram,

    “The statement that a true skeptic suspends
    judgement is not an opinion. It is a statement recapitulating the statements of classical skeptics.”

    So, by reifying and adopting the opinions of dead philosophers your opinions become something above opinion. Revelation, perhaps?

    You decry argumentum ad verecundiam when it suits you, dismissing with a hand wave that actual expertise may sometimes be helpful.

    You utterly confuse duplication and replication with standard bookkeeping practices.

    You present a romantically idealized vision of what you believe science should be without a clue to how it actually works, expecting universal affirmation by acclamation or else one’s opinions are dirt to you, no ifs, ands, or buts? (Where is your much cherished withholding judgement, here?)

    [edit]

    Take a tip from a different skeptical Scot:

    “O wad some Power the giftie gie us
    To see oursels as ithers see us!
    It wad frae monie a blunder free us
    An foolish notion:
    What airs in dress an gait wad lea’es us,
    An ev’n devotion!”

  • EliRabett // October 29, 2007 at 4:02 am

    Tell you what guys, if I remember MBH 98 listed something like 90 dendrology series, most of which consisted of multiple trees, some many multiple trees. You wanna go core all of them to bring everything up to date, go ahead. Eli senses another surface stations debacle in the making. As to replying or not, weekends occur.

  • luminous beauty // October 29, 2007 at 5:50 am

    Really, Eli,

    Where will it all end?

    I have this tragic image of McIntyre and his band of merry unpaid amateurs traversing the Greenland icecap in their cheaply repaired jeep, hauling a surplus drilling rig, intent on replicating Robert Scott’s experience in the Antarctic.

    I can scarce wait to read his final diary entry. “Global warming can’t be happening. It’s friggin’ cold up here.”

  • InquiringMinds // October 29, 2007 at 1:31 pm

    Mr Rabett, Surely the real reason that the tree ring proxies cannot be updated is that the new sample needs to be taken from the same point on the tree. But there’s just a hole there left from extracting the previous sample, so how can the same data (plus new) be obtained?

  • Hank Roberts // October 29, 2007 at 2:30 pm

    Inq, you can learn how this is done by reading some of the papers, and it would make a dandy high school science fair project that could be done with slices of trees from any woodlot. If you don’t do firewood or cut trees yourself, I used to get most of my biology and geology samples by going out to places staked for development or roadbuilding the weekend before the bulldozers were scheduled, with saw and pick and shovel.

    What you’ll find, if you do the exercise, is that you can take a slice of any tree, draw a line from center to edge on it, do all the measurements (thickness of each ring).

    Then take another slice of the same tree, and some slices from different trees (same and different kinds) from the same place, and do the same measurements. Correlate.

    Go to another site a mile away and repeat.

    Then you look at the ratios and series and patterns.

    Yes, you can get a PhD and career doing this, but you can also get a decent science-fair-level understanding with just a few days’ work of how the patterns are there to be found.

    No one core of one tree in one place is going to tell you much by itself.

  • InquiringMinds // October 29, 2007 at 3:27 pm

    Hi Hank, Thanks for that. If, having taken a slice through a tree, say 30 years ago, how do I go back today and repeat the exercise to get an update of the data? Surley the slice I took 30 years ago killed the tree. I’m not happy about killing off trees so I’d be more interested in taking cores, which I understand to be thin drills into the tree. Its the question of how to get an update to the data I’m asking about.

  • Eli Rabett // October 29, 2007 at 4:36 pm

    Inqy, the first question is what do you want the sample for, what will you learn from it?

  • InquiringMinds // October 29, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    Mr Rabett, Implicit in your previous post “Tell you what guys, if I remember MBH 98 listed something like 90 dendrology series, most of which consisted of multiple trees, some many multiple trees. You wanna go core all of them to bring everything up to date, go ahead” the proxies can be brought up-to-date, I was inquiring how this could be achieved. As I said, the core that was taken years ago leaves a hole, how do you get the missing “core”, and therefore its data.

  • Dano // October 29, 2007 at 6:30 pm

    I was inquiring how this could be achieved. As I said, the core that was taken years ago leaves a hole, how do you get the missing “core”, and therefore its data.

    I have given the instructions on your CA before: e-m the researcher, give your credentials and the reason for your inquiry, and ask.

    If you need help cross-dating and interpreting the rings (its not straightforward), then you can do the analysis yourself after you receive your degree in dendrochronology.

    HTH.

    Best,

    D

  • Hank Roberts // October 29, 2007 at 6:35 pm

    Inq, you only slice trees for firewood — that’s just easier as a way to get a look at the rings, for the science fair project. It’s a way for you to go through the steps at home, to see how tree ring info can be collected and different trees can be compared.

    You can start at the center and draw several different radii out to the edge and measure the rings along each line. They all, obviously, are from the same tree, but they aren’t identical, trees aren’t perfect cylinders. So the first thing to learn is how the individual tree looks from different angles.

    Then look at other trees from the same location, other trees of the same species from nearby locations, and do the same.

    What you’re looking for is patterns, not raw numbers.

    Just like ice cores and mud cores, you have patterns. You can find the same patterns in different samples.

    Once you have an identifiable event on several different trees — like a five-year drought — you have a marker.

    Once you have enough markers, you can compare one core (radius) to another and know you’re looking at the same years.

    Once you have enough samples covering the same period of time, you publish.

  • Hank Roberts // October 29, 2007 at 6:45 pm

    This may help:

    http://www.sas.org/tcs/weeklyIssues_2005/2005-10-21/feature2/
    —-excerpt—
    21 October 2005

    How to Analyze Digital Images
    Forrest M. Mims III, Editor

    If you own a digital camera or scanner, you can soon begin doing some serious science. …

    Most people who own a digital camera have at least some experience with software that enhances their photographs….you need another kind of software to analyze your images.

    Image Analysis Software

    Retouching scientific photographs is a touchy subject, especially when changes and adjustments are not explained in articles and papers that use such images. Failing to fully explain enhancements and other changes in scientific photographs can even result in charges of scientific misconduct. While enhancing photos certainly has a role in science (when the enhancement is disclosed and explained), there is another kind of image software that is much more important to many scientists.

    Instead of manipulating images, these programs analyze the information in images and provide a range of outputs. These sophisticated software packages can … delineate tree rings… and so forth.

    I also study annual growth rings in trees. This has become a fairly major project, and the front porch of the little farmhouse from which this article is being typed is stacked with tree trunks and branches from the baldcypress and pines that are of special interest. One purpose of the tree ring project is to compare the growth of certain trees with my long term measurements of atmospheric conditions since 1990. Another is to identify possibly novel phenomena, including the asymmetrical deposition of tannin in conifer branches. Image analysis software has become crucially important to this project…..

    http://www.sas.org/tcs/weeklyIssues_2005/2005-10-21/feature2/images/Fig_08.jpg
    “Analyzing Tree Rings

    Annual growth rings in tree trunks and branches are significantly influenced by rainfall and sunlight. They are generally wider during wet years.

    Figure 7 is an intensity scan across the sanded and polished rings of a large baldcypress (Taxodium distichum). The tree was downed by a major flood along the Guadalupe River in Texas on 4 July 2002. The horizontal (x) axis is the scan across the growth rings. The vertical axis (y) is the brightness of the wood at each point in the scan.

    Figure 7 clearly shows the annual growth rings. Wide rings are associated with wet, El Niño years. This figure is very typical of single axis intensity scans produced by image analysis programs like ImageJ. An annotated version of this scan has been prepared for publication in a scientific paper. ”
    —–end excerpt—-

    Now this is NOT a lesson in how to do the analysis, just a pointer to the fact that it can be done with simple tools and your firewood stack.

  • InquiringMinds // October 29, 2007 at 8:28 pm

    Dano “I have given the instructions on your CA before: e-m the researcher, give your credentials and the reason for your inquiry, and ask”. I suspect you are telling me that the information is available on a previous message of yours, I would appreciate a pointer to it please. (e-m I guess is EMail but CA eludes me, too old for this txt-speak stuff. Why would I email some researcher, I thought I could ask on here and get answers. If my question is too simplistic I’ll find a tree-rings site and ask there)

  • tristram shandy // October 29, 2007 at 8:32 pm

    Inquiring.

    You do not cut the tree down. You core it. This leaves a small hole which you seal. Typically you take more than one core per tree. The core is statistically a sample of the rings, since ring width can vary with the core location. it is advisable to sample a tree more than once. And its advisable to sample several trees per location. In most
    cases this protocal has been observed. In some cases there is a question about this and some physical evidence that multiple cores have not been taken, even when the tree in question presented an elliptical growth pattern.

    McIntyre revisited trees sampled by Graybill in 1980 to resample them and expand the site sample. Some of the resampling seems to indicate that the cores taken by Graybill do not adequately represent the cross section of the tree.

    Now, Why resample these trees:
    The reason for this is as follows:

    The trees in question are extremely critcial to 3 major reconstrunctions of the past. They are critical for a few reasons: First, if you remove these trees from the entire dataset the result is dramatically different. So the Final result of these studies is very dependent on this particular series. Second, these trees have been questioned by independent third parties as suitable Proxies.

    Third, 25 years of apparent WARMING has occured since these tree were cored, so revisiting them is an important “out of sample” test. This kind of testing is normal science.

    You do not have to revisit all of the proxies or all of the sites or all of the trees to identify issues with the conclusions. That would be ideal, however, it is not logically necessary nor mathematically necessary. Suggestions to the contrary notwithstanding.

    The final outcome will not impact AGW theory. It will provide some more insight into the following:

    1. The methods used by previous reconconstructions.
    2. The advisability of using Bristle cone pines from this location, in particular the advisablity of using BCPs that have suffered damage inthe past by having bark stripped off them.

    Finally,

    Regardless of paleo reconstructions, there remains post industrial warming that is explained very nicely by AGW theory.

  • dhogaza // October 30, 2007 at 12:35 am

    McIntyre revisited trees sampled by Graybill in 1980 to resample them and expand the site sample. Some of the resampling seems to indicate that the cores taken by Graybill do not adequately represent the cross section of the tree.

    Do they have the proper permits to core these trees, or are they just cowboy’ing around without regard to applicable federal law?

  • dhogaza // October 30, 2007 at 12:38 am

    You do not have to revisit all of the proxies or all of the sites or all of the trees to identify issues with the conclusions. That would be ideal, however, it is not logically necessary nor mathematically necessary. Suggestions to the contrary notwithstanding.

    Cool. Then certainly you can tell us just how many proxies, sites, or trees need to be resampled to confirm or shoot down the earlier work, right? Because you’ve done the statistical analysis to support your “not mathematically necessary” claim, right?

    [Response: Your questions are legitimate, but the tone is provocative and disrespectful. This is in sharp contrast to tristram shandy’s comment, which has no trace of either.

    I’m trying very hard to change the tone of commentary. Please help.]

  • tristram shandy // October 30, 2007 at 2:21 am

    Dehogza.

    Very interesting question about the permits.
    Let me answer directly and then question the question. Is that fair?

    Directly: yes permits were obtained.

    Now, let’s question the question. The abscence of a permit would not go to the truth of the matter. For example, if someone trespassed onto corporate land and collected samples that indicated the dumping of radioactive waste, the law breaking wouldnt go to the truth of the matter. I wouldn’t advise either in either case.

  • tristram shandy // October 30, 2007 at 3:12 am

    Dehogza.

    Good question:

    You wrote:

    “Cool. Then certainly you can tell us just how many proxies, sites, or trees need to be resampled to confirm or shoot down the earlier work, right? ”

    Presently we are talking about one site: algamre,
    and the Bristle Cone Pines sampled there back in 1980. So, the number of sites is 1. And the number of proxies ( these are tree rings) is 1.
    The number of trees orginally sampled at this site is 41. Of the 41 trees orginally sampled by graybill only 38 were actually cross dated. Of those cross dated only 16 were archived and available for use by the reconstructionists.

    Now, to be sure, one wants to know why less than 1/2 of the cross dated trees were actually archived. That is, why were these cores not made available. There are several explainations, some innocent, others less so.
    But speculation is meaningless. So, one must recore the trees that have been excluded from analysis. Primarily to attempt an explanation of why they were excluded. This would not be necessary if the orginal research were documented fully. For example, if Graybill had noted, for example, that tree 31 was excluded because it was complacent, then rechecking that would be rather trivial. As it stands, he made no such record about his exclusions. I infer nothing from this, however, it demands a rechecking.

    Now why is this one series so important. It’s important because if you remove it, the record of the past changes. Influential reconstructions use this series and their results are inordinately sensitive to it’s inclusion/exclusion. hence all the debate over these 16 trees.

    The question at hand is not about “shooting down” earlier work. The question is more subtle than that. The trees were cored last in 1980.
    If you look at temperature trends since that time you will see a sharp rise in anomaly. If these 16 trees encode the temperature signal, then retesting these trees could provide further substantiation of AGW and the proxy studies that use these trees. However, if these trees show some kind of divergence post 1980, then perhaps researchers should heed the advice of others and not use these trees in their reconstructions. This might have the effect of moving a handful of reconstructions closer to the Moberg profile. So, it’s not about “shooting down” theory. It’s about refining estimates by picking the most reliable “sensors” Does that make sense? So, to answer your last question, there is no “set” number of the 16 that need to be recored. By the end of the project, I would hazard, that most if not all will be resampled.
    In addition, trees not sampled by Graybill have been sampled.

    I am truely puzzled why people resist the simple task of recoring these trees. And publishing the data.

  • dhogaza // October 30, 2007 at 3:34 am

    Now, to be sure, one wants to know why less than 1/2 of the cross dated trees were actually archived.

    Why? 1980 predates the commie plot that underlies the politics of the pseudoscience of climate science.

    So they couldn’t know they needed to archive their data to help folks like you undermine the global conspiracy put forth by climate scientists.

    This stuff wasn’t earth-shaking science in the day. It was b-o-r-i-n-g science (literally, they bored holes in trees).

    Perhaps they only kept those they felt were most interesting.

    Perhaps they only archived as much data as their grant covered.

    I am truely puzzled why people resist the simple task of recoring these trees. And publishing the data.

    Because it’s carried forth by people with a definite agenda who have a documented disregard or misunderstanding of science.

    You know, the kind of people who scream “a photograph of a weather station is more important than the station’s data!”

    Actually, I don’t resist their reinvention of the wheel particularly. What I resist is the fact that, based on past history, they’ll take the smallest, least important refinement of results and trumpet to the world “climate scientists are stupid! they don’t do good work! see, we’ve corrected them!”

    And why do they do so? Because of their political agenda, which is to discredit the notion that AGW could possibly, under any circumstance, be real.

  • dhogaza // October 30, 2007 at 3:40 am

    So, to answer your last question, there is no “set” number of the 16 that need to be recored.

    If there’s no “set” number that need to be recored, then your earlier statement that there’s no a priori mathematical reason that all need to be recored, is false.

    If these 16 trees encode the temperature signal…

    That’s not the claim, exactly. The claim would be that they encode a variety of signals, and that the temperature signal is the most significant unless there are significant changes in, oh say, atmospheric chemistry over a fairly long period of time.

    Such as in the last century or so, when humans are documented as making such changes to the atmosphere.

    Please try to be a little more precise.

  • Alan Woods // October 30, 2007 at 5:04 am

    dhogaza, we’re not all raving neo-con commie bashers. I live in Australia, I’m a scientist, have voted Labor all my life, and am an AGW skeptic. On the evidence I’ve seen, BCPs are very problematic as temperature proxies. I don’t care if Mann or McIntyre update the proxies as long as its done in a completely transparent manner.

    So please leave the consipracy theories at home.

  • diessoli // October 30, 2007 at 8:13 am

    So, one must recore the trees that have been excluded from analysis. Primarily to attempt an explanation of why they were excluded. This would not be necessary if the orginal research were documented fully. For example, if Graybill had noted, for example, that tree 31 was excluded because it was complacent, then rechecking that would be rather trivial. As it stands, he made no such record about his exclusions. I infer nothing from this, however, it demands a rechecking.
    (my emphasis)

    Just wondering why you think that it _has_ to be rechecked. If this is about confirming or refining the reconstruction all you have to do is to take samples of trees in the area. That’s how science normally works, isn’t it? You don’t ask other researchers to give you their experimental set-up. You set up your own.
    I tend to agree with dhogaza. The insistence on _re-doing_ the original work smacks like Mr. McIntyre is more interested in finding faults in the original work and not in a refinement of the reconstruction.

    Anyway; coming back to the orignial topic: so far, I believe, I have not seen any evidence been presented here or refered to that would support the idea that the MWP and todays warming are alike.

  • Hank Roberts // October 30, 2007 at 10:34 am

    Remember “double blind” research is — or should be — done to exclude exactly the kinds of problems raised here, once suspicion is aroused that anyone may care what the outcome is, because caring is a biasing factor.

    Think about how that would be done with any proxy record, of the many that exist — sediment cores, ice cores, tree cores.

    Has anyone reproducing work so far anonymized the samples, so neither the person drilling the core nor the person analyzing the core knows which one is which until after the data are all collected and analyzed?

    If this were medicine, it’d be done that way. It should be, by anyone with a preexisting belief about what they are going to find.

  • MrPete // October 30, 2007 at 12:26 pm

    dhogaza, please avoid making serious accusations against law-abiding, intelligent, science-loving people… without even having read the available (online) literature. Even on this blog.

    Yes, the proper permits were obtained. Yes, proper procedures were followed.

    it’s carried forth by people with a definite agenda who have a documented disregard or misunderstanding of science…the kind of people who scream “a photograph of a weather station is more important than the station’s data!”…the smallest, least important refinement of results and trumpet to the world “climate scientists are stupid! they don’t do good work! see, we’ve corrected them!”…why do they do so? Because of their political agenda, which is to discredit the notion that AGW could possibly, under any circumstance, be real.

    I am always amazed about these kinds of “vigorous discussions.”

    (Tamino, I hope that I’m being on-topic and level-headed here. I hope you don’t mind if I respond by telling a bit of my story. Yeah, I tend to ramble a bit but hopefully it is at least slightly interesting :) )

    I learned a few things during my analysis of Y2K**. One was that people, SMART people, too quickly trust unreliable data, too quickly draw their own conclusions, too quickly lock into an answer. And then are simply NOT going to be convinced to become less-sure.

    I’m a skeptic. That’s supposed to be a Good Thing in science. I’m a show-your-work, dot-the-I’s, admit-the-uncertainties kind of guy.

    I care far more about truthfulness in professional work (science, engineering, you name it) than about any particular outcome. Folks, we’re losing that battle. I’ve had a wide variety of leaders tell me “staking out an extreme position is more important than holding to the truth.” I’ve seen, in print, unabashed explanations of how to get people to accept invalid propositions (i.e. how to lie) and get away with it, all in the name of accomplishing a particular goal. Such things scare me, and motivate me to action.

    Today, we believe the CV or the “right” affiliations more than we believe basic truthiness, basic regard for the scientific method, basic regard for honest sharing of what we know and what we do not know. That means that I’m a nobody: I’m nobody famous, have no big CV. All I have is a good science and engineering education, and a few decades of real world experience working with bleeding edge equipment, measurements, data. And a sweetie who is all about nature, loves marine bio the most but has spent decades doing land-based stuff. (I guarantee you have used technologies I’ve helped invent. But I’m not the name in lights. Ever.) Public credibility? Nope. Just a common ordinary worker bee.

    So, here’s the truth I saw. Perhaps I’ve only seen spin, but 30+ years of experience says otherwise:

    * What was once a careful scientific inquiry (into climate) rapidly became frequent news pronouncements saying “we’re sure” with extreme policy arm-twisting, even though overall the data doesn’t look much different or better. Smelled slightly like Y2K alarmism. Just faintly.

    * I peeked in, and found an extreme lack of basic rigor in data handling. Back when I was doing careful measurements, we knew the difference between 1.23+/-0.2mm and 1.23 in a spreadsheet cell.

    * I started to have a sinking feeling about the influence of my own field (computers) on scientific data handling. I have fought these battles before. The first time, it was to convince people that “0″ and “I dunno” are not the same thing. Now, I began to wonder: is climate science a field that understands how data and analysis relate to the real world? (Note: I am related to a glaciologist, have another relative who has done ice coring, yadda yadda… I have high respect for lots of scientists.)

    * I looked a bit deeper and found the Hockey Stick fiasco. Look at the situation from an “I don’t care WHAT the answer is, just tell the truth” perspective, and you will have your eyes opened. And not just that they hockey stick is unreliable work, but a) the result depends 100 percent on certain cherry-picked data, and b) the result, methods and data are of great influence in much other published work today.

    My sense got stronger: hmmm we really don’t know as much as “they” say we know.

    Then, several things seemed “curious” about the handling of data:

    * Climate scientists (dendro especially) claiming, in print, that they can cherry-pick data series for the “desired” signal. That doesn’t sound like any science I know.

    * Partial / non / summarized-only data sharing.

    * Partial / non / summarized-only methods sharing.

    To me, that IS poor science practice. And poor policy that allows it. My sense increased even more. What do we really know about climate change?

    [Brief interlude: I’ve worked with startup company financial models. Eight multi-tab spreadsheets all linked. Very impressive details. But the whole thing all comes down to a set of four or five “knobs”… turn the dials and you can produce any result you like. It’s amazingly easy to fool ourselves with complex models that we don’t really understand in detail!]

    So, I’m digging for some truth. Something we really know. And I get down to a simple effort to update Bristlecone Pine (BCP) data. Amazed that we live within driving distance of a significant data source!

    I’m good with data handling and good at keeping equipment running. My wife’s a great field observer (from undersea transects to forestry and horticulture to birding.) And we were asked to help. Why not?!!

    Honestly, we continue to be amazed about the dearth of basic good data handling and good scientific practice.

    To us, our work was bare-minimum. After all, we have zero past experience coring trees. So, we did the basics:

    * Looked at some dendro data collection forms, and added a few items of our own for eco-context and photo/GPS info.

    * Recorded many details of time, place, context. (After all, it can be important to know whether trees are growing peacefully in the forest, or being damaged by fire, storm, etc.)

    * Collected multiple samples per tree, as per proper dendro procedure.

    * Carefully preserved every single sample, no matter how “good” or “bad”, in the field.

    * Shared all data immediately, for feedback, error checking and correction.

    I’m continually astounded that such basic work would be controversial.

    I’m even more astounded to discover that apparently what we did is unusual. Just for example, apparently the provenance data we collected on Graybill’s trees is far more complete than what was originally collected, and most of the original coring was one-per-tree. And, most of Graybill’s data has never been archived.

    My question: why should our “amateur” work be considered so unusually good?!! That scares me.

    Do we have an agenda? Yes. We want to promote Good Science. Partially as a result of our experience with this, my wife is more motivated to continue writing a school textbook on What Is Good Science. (She used to teach high school life sciences.)

    PS on Y2K: **I got my arm twisted off by non-profit executives to tell them what was really going to happen… took some sleuthing and calls to chip mfgs who had never been asked the right questions… but my report was accurate and needed no apologies.

  • Dennis Wingo // October 30, 2007 at 1:14 pm

    Arrhenius made a mistake. Can you find it?

    [edit] Arrhenius’s mistake is that he knew nothing about the quantization of energy/matter that is fundamental to the study of the absorption and emission of energy. Without an understanding of the Quantum Mechanical basis of emission and absorption Arrhenius was about as accurate as those who spoke about the aether in the same period of time.

    Until the Michelson/Morely experiment was performed, the consensus of scientists was that we were embedded in an aether and that you could measure the “drag” of the aether in experiments.

    Arrhenius was simply wrong in that he did not understand the mechanism of how energy is absorbed and emitted. Quantum mechanics did not come along in experimental form until decades later but we do know this now and to continue to refer to his mistaken conjecture is no more logical than referring to calculations related to the density of the aether.

  • tamino // October 30, 2007 at 1:32 pm

    Clearly this is a contentious issue. I have already rejected a number of comments which are well “over the line,” and allowed some which are flirting with it. Perhaps I have allowed too much; tempers are threatening to flare.

    There’s been plenty of time for everyone to make his or her opinion clear. I will soon close comments on this thread; there’s a small window of opportunity remaining, so if you have something to add, do so now.

    Play nice. In particular, if something has been said which angers you, exercise restraint in response. Please avoid having to get in the last word.

  • luminous beauty // October 30, 2007 at 2:42 pm

    Dennis,

    Wrong. Arrhenius knew the laws of thermodynamics. He didn’t need an explanation of quantum mechanics to explain energy budgets on a macro scale. Neither do we.

    Physicists speculated that they could measure the drag of the universal ether. It wasn’t consensus science, it was the big unanswered question of the day. Kind of like the Higg’s boson is today. That is precisely what Michelson and Morley set out to do.

    Imagine their surprise.

  • Hank Roberts // October 30, 2007 at 2:49 pm

    > why should our “amateur” work be
    > considered so unusually good?!!
    > That scares me.

    It shouldn’t. Any science fair kid can do better work replicating something than the first person poking around at natur did, before there was any background or history or reason to think anything interesting would necessarily turn up.

    I was quite firmly restrained in grade school from doing a science fair project I found in an old “Amateur Scientist” column from the 1940s. Take an old spark coil from a Model T, then commonly available, and any big old vacuum tube with a ‘getter’ plated out making the inside silvery, and, Lo! it’s possible to recreate Roentgen’s original work that surprised him when he was poking around that discovered X-rays.

    It would also have been a rediscovery of how X-rays can cause cancer, but that took much longer to pull out of the data as it accumulated, and that took better data collection than the first work. I didn’t do that project.

    There are stories about the basements of the Smithsonian, well documented, about the volume of material never yet unboxed. And there’s more anywhere the old ‘natural history’ people left their collections.

    I’m an utter amateur and I can do “better” field collection on almost any site than was ever done before. It doesn’t mean I will notice what’s important or know what to do with it.

    What I can offer — given good guidance — is only better because of the past collectors, against whom I can compare what I do. Someone knowing what was lacking in the past can help me redo work or do work in an area for the first time — better documented baseline data collection, better stored, so some day someone can come back and compare what’s there now to what I found and have enough basis to say, statistically, whether things have changed or not.

  • Chris O'Neill // October 30, 2007 at 3:49 pm

    “Third, 25 years of apparent WARMING has occured since these tree were cored, so revisiting them is an important “out of sample” test.”

    It is well known that many proxies have suffered from divergence in the past 25 years for one reason or another. But this has nothing to do with how good a proxy they were in the distant past which can be established by comparing with other proxies. i.e. what happened in the last 25 years means nothing. The Bristlecone pines aren’t needed to make a hockey stick, they’re just needed to make the shaft longer.

  • tristram shandy // October 30, 2007 at 4:16 pm

    diessoli Thanks for your thughtful comments:

    “Just wondering why you think that it _has_ to be rechecked. If this is about confirming or refining the reconstruction all you have to do is to take samples of trees in the area. That’s how science normally works, isn’t it? ”

    A couple points. Nothing HAS to be rechecked;
    It depends how sure you want to be.
    Several researchers have pointed out problems with the BCP as proxies, so they should be subjected to additional scrunity. Further, since Graybill did not for the most part collect mutiple cores per tree as the protocals of good dendro work require, it seems a good thing to to. The team did sample other trees in the area not sampled by Graybill as I noted. They also sampled the Graybill trees not archived, and resampled some of the trees that had been archived. Pons and Flieschman claimed to have
    created cold fusion. When others tried to duplicate the results, well you know the history.
    So, nothing they did HAD to be checked, but when it was, we learned something. Either way
    you learn something. If it checks out you have
    an independent confirmation; if it doesnt, you have a disconfirmation. More study may be required.

    “You don’t ask other researchers to give you their experimental set-up. You set up your own.”

    If you are talking about the physical devces yes.
    However, you cannot set up your own if they do not adequately explain the method. This has not been done in some reconstructions. And you cannot check your data against theirs if they don’t publish the raw data. They post summary results: Like so: The answer is 456. I performed calculations on some numbers to get 456, but I refuse to give you the numbers or the calculations:

    “I tend to agree with dhogaza. The insistence on _re-doing_ the original work smacks like Mr. McIntyre is more interested in finding faults in the original work and not in a refinement of the reconstruction.”

    Well this is the appeal to motives. The motives are unknown to you. You are free to speculate, however, but its not science. Further the motives don’t go the truth value of what is found.
    If it did, one could speculate that Mann had motives to prove AGW and that would invalidate his study. What can we do to address the question of motives?: Well, McIntyre records the trees and location. Those are public. You can go to the location and see that the trees were cored. He hired an independent lab to do the analysis. You can call them to confirm. When the analysis is done, all of the data will be archived in public archives. So you can go download it. Contrast that with the work of some other reconstructionists. Moberg, for example, has tree core data from Russia which he refuses to publically archive. In fact, in a recent paper by Juckes, Juckes had to exclude this series of trees because the publication ( Climate of the Past) demanded that all data be publically archived. And, some critical Ice cores have gone unarchived for 20 years. I am not one to hunt for motives. However, when you refuse to share data, some will go motive hunting. The best way to short circuit this motive hunting is to document the work, and publish the methods and the data. If I hide my data you might be right to question my motives, you might be wrong. So publish the data and questions of motive are replaced with questions of fact.

    “Anyway; coming back to the orignial topic: so far, I believe, I have not seen any evidence been presented here or refered to that would support the idea that the MWP and todays warming are alike.”

    That was not the goal. Essentially Tamino put up Moberg’s final result. There are related problems with Moberg, but this thread is ending.
    If you like there is a discussion of Moberg elsewhere. Out of courtosy to Tamino I will not link it, but google is your friend.

    Cheers

  • MrPete // October 30, 2007 at 4:17 pm

    “It is well known that many proxies have suffered from divergence in the past 25 years for one reason or another. But this has nothing to do with how good a proxy they were in the distant past which can be established by comparing with other proxies. i.e. what happened in the last 25 years means nothing.”

    Isn’t this false logic? What does a “proxy” mean, if not that it somehow is a valid indicator? And if actual ‘out of sample’ measurements prove the “proxy” is an invalid indicator, does that not invalidate the proxy?

    AFAIK, scientific hypotheses are not tested by attempts to confirm, but by attempts to falsify. I hope I’m not wrong in this.

  • MrPete // October 30, 2007 at 4:23 pm

    Hank, thanks for that. Yes, we do build on 20/20 hindsight from our predecessors.

    What’s strange: we’ve had a hard time finding “great” data examples in the dendro work being done today. I sure hope it’s because we just haven’t seen them yet. I would love to point to X, Y and Z as great exemplars of dendro data practices. Examples we can aspire to as great scientific practice.

  • tristram shandy // October 30, 2007 at 4:24 pm

    Chris,

    Yes, in fact I believe the new data that McIntyre collected will be presented at a conference on the Divergence “problem” It’s a problem because of the uniformity principle. One can’t simply state that the trees went from being Good proxies to bad proxies. Admitting that without adequate explaination runs into this problem:
    If a tree can change in the last 25 years from being good to bad as a proxy, how sure can we be that it was a good proxy 500 years ago?
    Uniformity principle. In fact, showing the divergence is good evidence that trees are not reliable proxies. If there are mismatches in the calibration period, it’s arguable that there are mismatches in the past.

    BCPs do make the shaft longer. The blade of the hockey stick, is the INSTRUMENT record. The last sample of BCP was 1980. Now we check the blade. Further, the shaft is what determines the height of the MWP, hence the interest.

    So, If you remove the BCP, the MWP changes.
    hence their importance.

  • Heretic // October 30, 2007 at 5:31 pm

    I have missed a lot of the discussion here and really don’t have the time to get back through the thread to look at everything. The BCP issue seems quite important to some. Just for info, I would like to know: does the Moberg reconstruction, used by Tamino in the original post, contains data from BCPs ?

  • MrPete // October 30, 2007 at 6:14 pm

    Heretic, simple answer is yes. And at the moment, I’m cautious about what can be learned (climatologically) from any dendro. The confounding factors are pretty amazing.

    (Please note: I’m not saying the dendro data says something different about climate. I’m cautious about how much climate info we can glean from dendro data at all. I have suspicions but no conclusion or even real hypothesis on this at this time. More news once we have more data.)

    (Some might ask “why don’t you trust others’ data?” My answer: give me a comprehensive data set with multiple cores per tree, multiple tree sides (parallel, up/down slope, etc), and multiple tree conditions, and I’ll be a whole lot happier. For now, ours is the only high altitude BCP (or other) data set I know of that fits this simple requirement. And yes, it’s being made public as quickly as possible. Everything but the actual ring widths is already available.)

  • Hank Roberts // October 30, 2007 at 8:14 pm

    http://sonic.net/bristlecone/dendro.html
    http://www.ltrr.arizona.edu/

  • Null // October 30, 2007 at 8:56 pm

    re: dhogaza in several above.

    Firstly can you point me to where anyone has screamed “a photograph of a weather station is more important than the station’s data!”

    Secondly, the weather station is the instrument. The data can be no better than the instrument.

    Thirdly, analyses of the data must be based on a proven fact that the data are actual representations of the quantity of interest.

    Finally, what is so wrong with quantifying important characteristics of all data used in all scientific work?

  • Heretic // October 30, 2007 at 9:06 pm

    You have links Mr Pete?

  • diessoli // October 30, 2007 at 9:33 pm

    Thanks for your comment tristram.

    Just one quick note and maybe clarification of what I meant: I do not have a problem with doing the “experiment” as such again. It desireable to have other people trying to replicate your results. What makes me suspect an “agenda” (and I am aware that this is just a subjective thing) is the insistence of coring the same trees.

    However, you cannot set up your own [experiment] if they do not adequately explain the method.
    I would think that the important bit is to confirm or
    rebut the results. If different methods lead to the same result it’s a sign of the robustnes of the result.

    That was not the goal.
    My apologies, poor wording again. It was not tamino’s goal, but others contented that he was not successful in showing that MWP and todays warming are _not_ alike. I just wanted to challenge them to actually provide any evidence for their claim that they _are_ alike.

  • tristram shandy // October 30, 2007 at 9:46 pm

    Heretic,

    No Moberg contains G Bulloides. Also
    problematic:
    http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=848

  • Hank Roberts // October 30, 2007 at 9:51 pm

    Null, are you familiar with how the weather station data is handled? Do you understand why having a large number of instruments allows cross-checks and can produce data more accurate than any individual instrument? Not sure how to start being helpful here. If you’re quoting from a source you consider trustworthy in the statements you make, what is your source?

  • Joe Duck // October 30, 2007 at 9:59 pm

    Thanks to Tamino for not closing down this thread, which has been very interesting and educational with respect to my confusion over the dendro work.

    Thanks Tristram for answering my question with an excellent summary of skeptical concerns over the Mann tree rings. I remain very confused about why this fairly controversial series of measurements is not discarded in favor of new studies. Unless I’m mistaken the normal course of action is to reference this work in current studies as if there was no concern over the methodology - concerns that are well articulated in the NAS and Wegman reports?

    Kudos to those of you - like Hank Roberts - who are doing this type of research as a hobby. Historically we have seen significant contributions from amateur scientists and I expect we’ll see more of that as the internet opens up the potential to publish results and data and have them discussed openly by experts and other amateurs.

  • MrPete // October 30, 2007 at 10:26 pm

    Let’s see… here’s “why the same trees” and some links.

    Why The Same Trees

    When we began, that was just a fun and interesting goal. After all, supposedly you get more or less similar results from every sample from every tree in a given site, or even nearby sites.

    Now that early data returns are coming in, we’re finding that even “same tree” may not be enough. The guy who asked about “same borehole” may have been prescient.

    One of our interesting early returns comes from our tree id #031, which is identical to one of Graybill’s. Not only that, but the 20+ year old borehole is still visible. We took two samples (at about 45 degrees to each other), one of them only three inches from Graybill’s (single) sample.

    The data is wildly different. You can see similar parts, but also very different parts.

    Is that a one-off issue or consistent variability? We’ll soon know! And I’m very glad we took samples both from new and from “same” trees.

    LINKS
    Current provenance file:
    http://www.climateaudit.org/data/colorado/2007_Almagre_Info.xls

    (I’m working on a new revision, incorporating more data from a final trip up there. There’s been so much interest, I went back and grabbed detailed 360 degree photos of the bark, plus compass measurements.)

    Photo gallery:
    http://picasaweb.google.com/Almagre.Bristlecones.2007

  • MrPete // October 30, 2007 at 10:33 pm

    Hank, I wish. Here’s typical data from ltrr:
    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/metadata/noaa-tree-3339.html

    There’s a bit more provenance, but not much.

  • Dano // October 30, 2007 at 10:59 pm

    Surely MrPete went over 9 and down into Breck and enjoyed a meal at Breckenridge Brewery after the task. Anyway,

    Now, Dano may have multitudinous issues with Climate Audit, many well-documented. But let me say from early on I thought that the right way to do things was to collect your own data rather than to make up quibbles about others’.

    Next, what you’ll want to do is go up Evans and get some of those (then down to Idaho Spgs to eat), then go west to the White Mts/Sierra and see if you can get a permit to get some of those, _then_ compare.

    The important thing when comparing is to remember that when you go at 45º to a borehole, you risk getting into reaction wood or compression wood. One normally chooses their corer location to eliminate this issue, and wildly different ring structure is to be expected, esp in trees in such a location. (this is a great example for the rest of us about the little things, education, and The Google’s lack of a ‘wisdom’ button). It would be interesting to know whether you know each core’s location wrt reaction wood or compression wood - hopefully the scale of your photos allows you to pinpoint & adjust. If I may suggest making nice with a seasoned dendro person to help interpret the core location and what that means to growth and the ring structure.

    Best,

    D

  • MrPete // October 30, 2007 at 11:50 pm

    Dano, good comments all, starting w/ Breckenridge :)

    Sadly (?) I live in Black Forest, so no need to travel far to get to Almagre. Still, there’s good food once one gets below 10,000 feet!

    Next, we see no need to perform comprehensive replication, but rather sufficient data to understand three things: 1) how hard is it, really, to extend the data sets; 2) can we get an idea of the uncertainties involved in dendro climate work; 3) what’s some extended data actually look like. No need to go everywhere to accomplish that. I’m not changing my day job :-D … after all, I’m sure the real climate scientists can do a much better job of this!

    (From a financial audit analogy, consider this a set of “test cases.” Auditors don’t check every transaction in your accounting system…)

    You asked a very appropriate question about reaction/compression. Guess what: the original data being compared has no such provenance — we can only guess (yes, we’ve talked with appropriate people about that.) Ours does have the data. And the photo scale / angles /etc allows for that and more. (It’s pretty easy to see which trees have had to realign. I’m also hoping to get photos of the actual cores; reaction wood supposedly would be pretty obvious.)

    45º was necessary on tree #31 to get two different cores: it only has bark at one end of a VERY elliptical trunk (about one by three feet). So the end was cored, a few inches from Graybill’s original, and another sampnle off to one side.

    BTW, reaction/compression is apparently turning out to be a minor nit compared to the elephant in the room: strip bark proximity. It’s all quite interesting!

    (Yes, seasoned dendro folks are getting involved in various ways. Open science is quite exhilirating… lots of folks can get in on this!)

  • Chris O'Neill // October 31, 2007 at 12:48 am

    “If a tree can change in the last 25 years from being good to bad as a proxy, how sure can we be that it was a good proxy 500 years ago?”

    As I said: by comparing it with other proxies over the past 500 years.

    “Uniformity principle. In fact, showing the divergence is good evidence that trees are not reliable proxies”

    under some circumstances. To get an idea of under a wide range of circumstances, compare it with other proxies over a period of 500 years.

    “If there are mismatches in the calibration period, it’s arguable that there are mismatches in the past.”

    It’s possible but not necessarily the case.

    “BCPs do make the shaft longer. The blade of the hockey stick, is the INSTRUMENT record”

    and half of the shaft (1450-1900) can be determined without using BCPs. BTW, the instrument record covers a little bit of the shaft.

    “So, If you remove the BCP, the MWP changes.”

    If you remove the BCPs, the reconstructed MWP goes from reliable to unreliable.

  • luminous beauty // October 31, 2007 at 2:38 am

    No one from CA has adequately explained to my satisfaction how ’strip-bark’ from BCPs affects the character of data. It does mean a lot of data may be lost to abrasion, but what is left is what it is.

  • Dano // October 31, 2007 at 2:50 am

    Chris teases out some of my implicit concerns above, but not why an increment borer hole is in a particular place [assumption that it was placed properly]. I had to drop a bioclimatology degree because my poor brain couldn’t handle it (hence the team requirement for these papers). This is a very hard discipline, which is why you don’t run into dendrochronologists in line at the grocery store (well, maybe Eli or Kevin Vranes do but I don’t live within shopping distance of NCAR*).

    Nonetheless, perhaps, MrP, if we’re fortunate enough and I’m down there with my fiancé and I’m using the top of Rollercoaster Rd as a turnaround, and you see a guy in all yellow and black likely on a black bike-white trim, pull me over and we’ll discuss the data returns you got and why you should go to Evans and the Whites/Sierra** before any pronouncements.

    We should go west of downtown Springs - far from recruits - and quaff a frosty beverage or three to discuss the difficulties inherent in this exercise. And if you have the proper qualifications how you may help me in my practice on the Front Range.

    Best,

    D

    * But I ran into a NCAR modeler in the woods last year while mushrooming…

    **NOTE: _not_ Sierras. The word is already plural.

  • Hank Roberts // October 31, 2007 at 3:30 am

    > , seasoned dendro folks are getting
    > involved in various ways.

    Is a plan made for the analysis published somewhere? I know the general idea in research work is to decide on and set out the statistical design before collecting the data.

    I don’t know if that’s normal in dendro work.

    Pointer welcome.

  • Hank Roberts // October 31, 2007 at 3:55 am

    > supposedly you get more or less
    > similar results from every sample
    >from every tree in a given site

    I’m _very_ curious where that supposition originates, it sure doesn’t match what very little I know about tree ring studies (nor what I’ve seen, just looking at cut surfaces). Each tree is very much an individual.

    Even looking at fast-growing firewood trees, the story the individual tree tells is very prominent; the story about the location has to be teased out in the comparisons.

    Same basic reason you can get a temperature series that’s accurate to a fraction of a degree with thermometers accurate to one degree — if and only if you have enough thermometers!

  • MrPete // October 31, 2007 at 4:30 am

    Such fun! In reverse order…

    “Published somewhere?…Set out the statistical design before collecting the data.”

    Steve had been invited to present at AGU but that got turned into a poster “presentation.” As for statistical design, ours is nothing fancy. Collect a bunch of whole bark data at treeline. Collect a bunch of strip-bark data, ideally from trees already sampled by Graybill, or at least nearby. See if strip bark or anything else can teach us something. Do not select only a fraction of what is collected, other than the items we know in advance were only collected for curiousity sake (e.g. we cored a root, just for fun. And ended up learning something anyway!)

    Hank, this is one of those things that made me get verrry quiet as I was reading up. I want to say this as diplomatically as possible: perhaps you might ask this same question of those who are gaining wide readings of their dendro papers. They argue that they (literally) can choose data that fits their hypothesis, and throw away the rest. No need to worry about outliers. It’s interesting how often data sets are chosen that appear to have the “right” shape while available similar-source data with the “wrong” shape is excluded. That’s the facts, no professional opinion on validity of such methods from this corner.

    Dano, heh ;)… who knows, I may have seen you. And you may ride centuries w/ a friend or two :-D… my home is not too far from the Rollercoaster — just down in the oldest part of Black Forest (the “banana belt” as our local codger likes to say!) And I get up to Boulder quite often as my daughter’s there.

    Luminous… normally, people would not sample from the stripped area but rather the living area, that’s still growing and adding rings.

    Some hypothesize that bark stripping has little or no impact on the remaining live portions. Others have said there’s severe impact and strip-bark samples should be avoided.

    Some have searched the literature for actual studies of this and come up empty handed. Our first return from the lab appeard to show that bark-strip events can induce a multi-decade high-growth “pulse” in the remaining tree. Not related to climate at all. (My wife’s guess: hormone-induced growth response to imbalance between crown and root systems.)

    The pulse was discussed more than a year ago, in less concrete terms:
    http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=727

    Based on the eight sequences returned from the lab so far, here’s discussion of the “pulse” in Almagre stripbark data:
    http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=2221

    And now, based on the idea that stripping causes a “pulse” response, a researcher went back to look at notes on Upper Wright Lake samples…check this link to see if the hypothesis was confirmed:
    http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=2251

    This is all developing (relatively) rapidly. The data is not all back from the dendro lab yet…

  • MrPete // October 31, 2007 at 4:32 am

    D–”And if you have the proper qualifications how you may help me in my practice on the Front Range.”

    Not sure your practice but I’m a “connector” (tipping point)… who knows, I know a whole lotta folks.

  • Dennis Wingo // October 31, 2007 at 4:43 am

    Wrong. Arrhenius knew the laws of thermodynamics. He didn’t need an explanation of quantum mechanics to explain energy budgets on a macro scale. Neither do we.

    Without an understanding of quantum mechanical basis of the absorption and emission of radiation it is impossible to understand CO2.

    CO2 absorbs and emits at specific wavelengths that are governed by the quantum mechanical properties of the molecule’s shape and resulting vibration modes.

    For example, the entire subject is that CO2 absorbs the infrared radiation emitted from the Earth’s surface. It does not absorb incoming visible wavelengths, this is a quantum mechanical property and has absolutely nothing to do with thermodynamics.

    part of the argument over water vapor absorption versus CO2 absorption is quantified by the quantum mechanical properties of both molecules who’s absorption/emission spectra overlap.

    The entire argument at realclimate.org is centered around pressure broadening of the CO2 absorption line which is defined by a relationship between quantum mechanics and thermodynamics. This is veering off topic so I will stop but to discount quantum mechanics as a driver for understanding CO2 is simply not science.

  • Dano // October 31, 2007 at 10:05 am

    No one from CA has adequately explained to my satisfaction how ’strip-bark’ from BCPs affects the character of data. It does mean a lot of data may be lost to abrasion, but what is left is what it is.

    What’s going on here, and is echoed in Wingo’s comment, is there is an implicit hypothesis that the BCP data are too variable in origin to be useful. Certainly the problem is interesting, as these trees - besides being one of my favorites - simply are amazing organisms that take an unbelievable pounding, do what it takes to survive, and thus their growth patterns (rings) are not uniform across a cross-section of the bole. This is common across many spp and why coring protocols were developed long ago to dampen noise (but the twisted nature of, and bark pounding taken by, BCPs makes these protocols problematic).

    The reason why data are thrown out is because of site factors and what you’re measuring. If you’re measuring growth response in pistol-butting, you’re going to take cores out of trees on slopes that get lots of snow to increase likelihood.

    This issue gets back to Western Platonic and Cartesian inquiry systems. In Russia, most Russian-trained botanists do not collect data as we do. They don’t purely randomize and don’t have a problem with it. Plants are stuck in place and directly respond to environmental stress, and randomly going out and collecting cores (or counting spp or occurence) is going to be noisy, hence the selection or deselection of data. It’s easy to find noise. It’s hard to find meaning.

    The overarching issue here IMHO (and reflected immediately above in Wingo’s rationalizing) is what is our relationship to nature, and do you want to believe we are fundamentally altering ecosystems planet-wide or find some comforting rationalization that states we’re not. It’s nothing, really, to rationalize away things in order to maintain one’s beliefs*. It’s human nature, after all**.

    Best,

    D

    * This is true: as I’m writing this, a BBC report about Chinese IPOs is playing and the conclusion was that folks choose to ignore the obvious lessons from the past about what to expect. It’s what we do. Human nature. Fundamental.

    ** Can’t find a URL, but there’s a cartoon that illustrates this perfectly: two movies being shown, one titled ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ with a short line and the other titled ‘A Comforting Lie’ with a line going around the block.

  • James // October 31, 2007 at 11:39 am

    O’Neill: “If you remove the BCPs, the reconstructed MWP goes from reliable to unreliable.”

    Now that’s funny!

  • MrPete // October 31, 2007 at 11:54 am

    Hank — two thoughts.

    First, on statistical design/selection, here’s an interesting link to a whole series of mistakes to be avoided with respect to overfitting. I suspect this list needs to be more broadly trumpeted: http://hunch.net/index.php?p=22

    Second, re teasing out the story of a location using the trees vs getting a more accurate picture using thermometers…

    The interesting thing to me about dendroclimatology is that so much of the “story in the trees” in these cases appears to have very little to do with climate. Yes, there’s an underlying climate-related picture, mostly precip-related. But then you get huge effects, apparently due to physical impact — heavy snow tears off a limb and strips off 1/4 of the tree’s bark. Lightning splits the tree and peels back 1/3 of the trunk. A nearby tree falls, whacking off another 1/3 of the limbs. Each time, the tree “responds”. I wish I could report that such events are usually detected, recorded and excluded from data analysis… but reality appears to be otherwise.

    (My wife keeps shaking her head as she looks at data sets and interpretations, and wonders why there’s such a disconnect between people who do computer analysis and people who understand what it’s like to be a tree on a mountain, or a plankton/coral in the sea…)

  • luminous beauty // October 31, 2007 at 2:41 pm

    Dennis,

    You don’t have to know QM to make an empirical observation and determine a macro relation between a material and its radiative absorbtion. QM explanations are nice. They supply a great deal of detailed explanation on the molecular level. However, what makes CO2 a significant greenhouse gas is only indirectly related to the Fraunhofer lines of IR it absorbs and emits. It is a manifest phenomenon of 100k of atmosphere. It is a macro phenomenon, not a sub-molecular one.

    The reason the argument of H2O vs. CO2 dominance is moot is because there is very little H2O in the atmosphere above the tropopause.

  • luminous beauty // October 31, 2007 at 2:56 pm

    P.S.

    Thermodynamics is the heart of QM. QM does not work without the assumption of conservation of energy.

  • Eli Rabett // October 31, 2007 at 3:07 pm

    I think I’m with LB on this one. What was available to Arrhenius was the % transmission through a known amount of CO2 of light from a thermal source. That’s enough for a ballpark estimate, which is what he made.

  • Dennis Wingo // October 31, 2007 at 6:42 pm

    luminous

    However, what makes CO2 a significant greenhouse gas is only indirectly related to the Fraunhofer lines of IR it absorbs and emits. It is a manifest phenomenon of 100k of atmosphere. It is a macro phenomenon, not a sub-molecular one.

    The Franuhofer lines ARE the QM manifestation.

    If you have other information I would be happy to read please point it out, but from what I have read, it is the increase in CO2 concentration that broadens these lines and thus increases absorption. The second is that the altitude at which CO2 desaturates increases as the CO2 concentration increases.

    Is this your understanding?

  • Eli Rabett // October 31, 2007 at 7:25 pm

    The Fraunhofer (sp) lines are seen in the visible/NIR solar spectra and have nothing to do with IR greenhouse gas absorption which are much further into the IR.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fraunhofer_lines

    The two statements you make about CO2 are both measureable without knowing anything about QM, although they are caused by QM structure. I can measure a change in absorption without knowing anything about the mechanism of absorption. That is what the big A referred to in his calculation (I think Tyndall made the measurements).

  • Hank Roberts // October 31, 2007 at 9:02 pm

    > people who understand what it’s like
    > to be a tree on a mountain, or a
    > plankton/coral in the sea…

    I empathize with your wife there. And the need for good statistics is to find data descriptive of populations that includes all of the different experiences. And statistics is a terribly new area of science, one of the youngest, yet we base so much on it because it’s the only toolbox we have for this.

    http://projecteuclid.org/DPubS?service=UI&version=1.0&verb=Display&handle=euclid.ss/1009212409

  • Chris O'Neill // November 1, 2007 at 3:31 am

    “O’Neill: “If you remove the BCPs, the reconstructed MWP goes from reliable to unreliable.””

    James: “Now that’s funny!”

    James is a bit slow. This “joke” was made in 1999 (MBH99).