Ring-a-Round 2: Queens University Belfast v Doug Keenan

WUWT readers may recall that Queens University Belfast is being asked to provide tree ring data and so far has been refusing all but a small portion. Here is an update on that story first carried in WUWT.

Guest Post by John A

http://www.msstate.edu/dept/geosciences/CT/TIG/WEBSITES/LOCAL/Summer2003/Harman_Pamela/tree%20rings.JPG

Image courtesy Mississippi State University Dept of Geosciences

Following on from the last post on Doug Keenan’s struggle to get tree ring data from Queen’s University, Belfast, we have Mike Baillie from QUB to explain to Benny Peiser of CCNet:

Dear Benny,

although I am retired from basic dendrochronological work, I would like to correct a small part of the diatribe against Queen’s University, Belfast, that you carried on CCNet on the 15 August, namely the allegation that we are deliberately withholding data of climatic significance.

Your source, Mr Keenan, gives the impression that data from only one Irish oak site is available, namely Garryland Wood, Co Galway.  This is a site he used in an attempted correlation with temperature records.  He points out the problem of dealing with data from an individual site, and states that “Those problems could be at least partially addressed by considering the individual trees at the site, rather than the average for the site, and also by considering trees at other sites in the British Isles.  Doing so would presumably lead to additional increases in the correlation (that he found between Garryland tree rings and temperature records)”.

Now any fair minded reader would take it from that quotation that “the individual tree” data from Garryland is not available.  Also that same reader would take it that data from other “trees at other sites in the British Isles” are not available.  Presumably, if the data were available, Mr Keenan would have extended his analysis in the search for an even better correlation between tree-growth in the British Isles and temperature, either local or Hemispheric.

The point is, not only are the individual tree data (14 trees) available from Garryland Wood, but equivalent individual tree-ring data is available from twelve other modern oak sites in Ireland, namely Ardara, Baron’s Court, Breen Wood, Caledon, Cappoquin, Enniscorthy, Glen of the Downs, Killarney, Loch Doon, Rostrevor and Shane’s Castle.  Moreover, individual tree data is also available for seven English and Scottish sites originally sampled by myself and colleagues at Belfast.  Thus anyone wanting to undertake research on tree-rings from the British Isles with respect to climate variables simply has to go into the NOAA World Data Centre for Paleoclimatology and access the data laboriously assembled, measured, documented and presented by workers at Queen’s University Belfast.

These comments are necessary because Mr Keenan has stated on your web site that at “QUB researchers do not have the expertise to analyse the data themselves and they do not want to share their data with other researchers who do”. Personally I would like an apology from both Mssrs Keenan and Peiser. However, I don’t expect to see one.

Mike Baillie

EDITOR’S NOTE [Benny Peiser]: Mike – Thanks for your response to Doug Keenan’s account. Let me make just one correction, as far as my role as editor of CCNet is concerned. Contrary to your perception, Keenan did not publish his text on my website. He published it on a popular U.S. climate blog called “Watts Up With That.” <http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/08/14/another-uk-climate-data-scandal-is-emerging/> I only forwarded the essay because I considered it to be in the public interest, particularly in light of the ongoing data withholding controversy surrounding CRU (see <http://www.nature.com/news/2009/090812/full/460787a.html> ). In short, just because I circulated Doug Keenan’s text does not mean that I support his views or claims. As the CCNet disclaimer states explicitly: “The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed in the articles and texts and in other CCNet contributions do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the editor.” I hope this clarification will reassure you. BJP

Well it appears that Doug Keenan is not apologizing or going away:

D.J. Keenan <doug.keenan@informath.org>

Following are some comments on the claims in the Response of Mike Baillie (CCNet, 18 August 2009).

The Response claims that “anyone wanting to undertake research on tree-rings from the British Isles with respect to climate variables simply has to go into the NOAA World Data Centre for Paleoclimatology and access the data laboriously assembled, measured, documented and presented by workers at Queen’s University Belfast”.

Only a tiny portion of the data from QUB is in the World Data Centre (i.e. ITRDB). For example, there is no data in the ITRDB for prior to AD 1500; yet measurements go back 7000 years–as Baillie’s own publications state.

QUB originally made the same claim, but has now admitted that most data is on disks that have not been uploaded. And the Assistant Information Commissioner has visited QUB, and confirmed that he saw much more data. That most of the data has not been uploaded and that QUB has been “deliberately withholding data of climatic significance” (Baillie’s phrase) is thus provable, acknowledged by QUB, and independently verified.

The Response also claims that my post “gives the impression that data from only one Irish oak site is available, namely Garryland Wood”. It further claims that my post implied “the individual tree data from Garryland is not available”. These claims are not based on my main post, but on the page, linked by my post, at <http://www.informath.org/apprise/a3900/b910.htm>

That page presents a short, simplified, theory how Ireland is uniquely affected by the North Atlantic Drift and deep water formation and how this links with global climate.  Briefly, if you had to pick one place in the world to study the climate, Ireland would seem to be it.

After presenting the theory to support that, the page gives a simple example, to illustrate that the theory works in practice. The example uses averages from one site in Ireland–Garryland Wood–and some basic mathematics–correlation and addition. This was done so that readers who are unfamiliar with the relevant science could judge the viability of the theory for themselves, at least to some extent. (The page was originally written for people who might not have any scientific training — staff at the Information Commissioner’s Office and the Aarhus Convention Secretariat, to support my requests for the data.)

After presenting the simplified example, the page notes that a proper analysis should consider individual trees, trees at other sites, and more sophisticated mathematics.  The claims of the Response are based on misrepresenting all this, as if the example comprised the only data and the only mathematics that were available. Those claims are thus baseless.

The Response additionally quotes from my post, “QUB researchers do not have the expertise to analyse the data themselves”, and says that Baillie wants an apology for that. If Baillie has the expertise, why did he never publish any research using it?  Moreover, I have had several discussions with Baillie over the years, and have a rough idea of his mathematical skills. The branch of statistics that seems most relevant for analyzing the data (multidimensional time series, probably nonlinear) is difficult and specialized: if Baillie can pass an introductory-level examination in the subject, I’ll pay a large sum. (Note: I would not pass either.)

To summarize, the untruthfulness in Baillie’s Response is so obvious that it seems unlikely that it was intended to be believed. Rather, this is perhaps just Baillie’s way of saying “go away”. Up until 2005, there would have been nothing that could be done.  In 2005, though, the UK Freedom of Information Act came into effect. I look forward to seeing the Act enforced for such important data.

Douglas J. Keenan
http://www.informath.org

Now all of this is really about principles – the question of ownership of scientific data and the principle of scientific replicability and analysis that can only happen if data and methodology are willingly shared.

Doug also noted to me that the blog at Nature also mentions this spat and Doug appears to think that Nature is being rather disparaging about him being  praised on Climate Audit. I can’t quite see the slight myself but then I’m not an academic trying to protect my hoard of data from hordes of unwashed mathematical analysts who “might find something wrong with it”.

I think more importantly that both Climate Audit and WUWT have both opened the way for many people to reanalyze what we’re been told by populist magazines like Nature or Science which cheerfully admits that they filter their received papers to those that are deemed “provocative” by junior editors. Its easy to see how a science magazine’s published output can be skewed to the belief system of those junior editors.

Prediction: This will go the distance.
=============================
(FROM BENNY PEISER’S EMAIL NEWSLETTER – ADDED 8/22/09)
EDITORIAL APOLOGY

I wish to apologise unequivocally to Mike Baillie for allowing an ad hominem attack to be included in a CCNet posting on 19 August 2009. I value vigorous and open debate, even hard-nosed controversies. It is essential for truth-finding in science. But I abhor personal attacks. This is the first time that such an issue has arisen on CCNet in more than 12 years. I will ensure that it won’t happen again as attacks on the integrity of CCNet members and other individuals are totally inappropriate in an academic network.

Benny Peiser

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63 Responses to Ring-a-Round 2: Queens University Belfast v Doug Keenan

  1. pyromancer76 says:

    I hope “go the distance” means the fastest route possible to outing the frauds who pretend they are “practicing” science — a field where the pretenders-practitioners believe they can demand “consensus” (the science is settled) as to the current treatment plan (send the developed world back to the Dark Ages by any means possible). We usually call them quacks. And we are finding quacks at Nature and Science??? Ohhhh, Myyyyy!

  2. kim says:

    So, he didn’t really expect an apology? Heh!
    ===========================

  3. kim says:

    But Keenan could expect an apology for the spelling in the headline, or at least a correction. Double Heh Heh!!
    =====================================

  4. peat says:

    OT: This message appeared this morning on spaceweather.com

    BLANK SUN: The sun is entering its 41st consecutive day without sunspots. This remarkable string of blank suns shows that we are still in the pits of the deepest solar minimum in a century. If the streak continues for 11 more days, it will match the longest blank spell of the current cycle.

    So where was the 51-day streak? I have been watching the site daily for nearly a year. Did they retroactively uncount some of the specks after retroactively counting them?

  5. Joe Miner says:

    @peat (07:58:26) :

    According to SWPC the period from 07/21/08 to 09/10/08 was spot free for 52 days, there were a couple of days that SPIC said there was a spot in that period but as far as I know SWPC never changed their records to reflect those.

  6. Tenuc says:

    They wriggle, they squirm, but the truth will out in the end.

  7. Joe Miner says:

    I meant SIDC, SPIC is another area of interest totally, sorry :)

  8. Keenan – that name rang a bell… yes, Climate Audit did a page on his challenge of the grape harvest “evidence” for warming… and I read his paper challenging Prof Wang. Keenan’s Introduction says

    The work of Jones et al. (1990) is a significant paper in global warming studies (see below for details). In February 2007, Stephen McIntyre blogged about evidence he had found showing that it was “impossible” for Jones et al. to have carried out their work as they had claimed. An anonymous comment on the blog then indicated potential issues with the closely-related work of Wang et al. (1990). Further study by myself found additional evidence of problems. The evidence particularly implicates Wei-Chyung Wang—the lead author of Wang et al. and a co-author of Jones et al.

    Wang is a professor at the University at Albany, State University of New York. He has been doing research on climate for over 30 years, and he has authored or coauthored more than 100 peer-reviewed scientific papers. He has also received an Appreciation Plaque from the Office of Science in the U.S.A., commending him, “For your insightful counsel and excellent science. …”. The plaque resulted in particular from his research on global warming.

    I have written a Report that details evidence that Wang committed scientific fraud.

    I read up the “other side” on Keenan; I read up Keenan’s own story, and thought at the time, the academics are circling the waggons – but this is not good enough since global policies are implicated. My guess is, QUB already have a “stance” on Keenan from all that.

  9. Typo in title:
    Keenan not Heenan

    REPLY: John A wrote the post, and I did not see it until you pointed it out. Thanks. – A

  10. Curiousgeorge says:

    Sounds like a food fight to me. ;)

  11. Douglas DC says:

    This is almost like the Reformation and Renaissance eras combined when the
    Primacy of the Roman Church was questioned by a lot of people.
    The response from the authorities is too…
    “Things ain’t changed all that much”
    ‘ol Cowboy philosopher/poet-FD McCoy

  12. deadwood says:

    Lucy:

    Indeed, the wagons have definitely been circled for Keenan. I was thinking the same thing as I read the post.

  13. IConrad01 says:

    I have submitted your linked PDF to reddit.com. ( http://www.reddit.com/r/science/comments/9ci5v/land_use_is_a_1storder_anthropogenic_climate/ ) Figured I should let you know.

  14. E.M.Smith says:

    I think more importantly that both Climate Audit and WUWT have both opened the way for many people to reanalyze what we’re been told by populist magazines like Nature or Science which cheerfully admits that they filter their received papers to those that are deemed “provocative” by junior editors. Its easy to see how a science magazine’s published output can be skewed to the belief system of those junior editors.

    As one of those “many people” who are reanalyzing some of the stuff we’ve been fed and called ‘science’ when it clearly isn’t… I’m most grateful for all the efforts folks have made. If GIStemp had not been pried loose, just think what we would not know about it… (And I’d be in the back yard enjoying the sun in my garden instead of coding FORTRAN to convert degrees to radians and calculate equal area latitude bands by degrees… Gee, maybe it wasn’t such a good thing 8-}

    BTW, if anyone just happens to know what the latitudes, in degrees, would be for a set of, oh, 9? 10? equal area latitude bands on the globe, that would save me re-learning how to do all that radians and spherical area stuff… and converting it to degrees. (Area of a band is R(squared)delta(angle in radians)cos(angle in radians); then I need to to solve for [earth area / (that area of what deltaAngle)] = 1/9; then I need to extract deltaAngle, then I need to turn that into degrees… then I need to repeat it for 9 slices of the earth and then… And I can do that, but it would be quicker if someone just happens to have a table of equal area latitude bands by degrees latitude… )

    Prediction: This will go the distance.

    Uh, yup!

    QUB: “My Data! Mine, Mine, Mine, Mine, MINE!”
    FOIA: “You have to share…”
    QUB: “But Maaa!”
    Doug: “QUB won’t share and called me a poo head!”
    QUB: “I let him smell the data, that’s sharing! And he is a poo head!”
    Us: “Would you grow up already? And his request is reasonable.”
    FOIA: “You have to share…”
    QUB: “My Data! Mine, Mine, Mine, “…

    the only questions are the size of the “do loop” limit and the destination of the exit clause…

    Maybe we just need a blanket rule that any article where the author is unwilling to share the data and methods must be automatically retracted by any peer reviewed journal (on the grounds of irreproducibility). Maybe that would do it… Seems like a reasonable rule to me…

    Per Nature and Science: They let the Junior editors make the first cut? Oh Gawd… The senior editor ought to at least have a few “picks” that he seasons the trough with (and if the juniors don’t sniff out the truffles, they then get sent back for more “training”…)

    Anyone with a clue knows that letting the most clueless set the agenda will result in the best stuff being missed and only sensational (but more likely to be wrong) stuff making it through the filter. The best science is often subtile, and hardest to predict its impacts.

    Let the junior guy decide what goes on the menu before the chef gets to cook, and you get a lot of burgers & garlic fries with tabasco sauce … not a lot of subtile flavors and fine insights about spices and herbs… and certainly no steak cooked “bleu” (steak started at a nice room temperature or it won’t work, gently introduced to a clean grill just long enough for the deep red inside to turn to a deep blueish red. Somewhere between “tartar” and very rare. While I don’t like rare meat, a friend ordered a steak this way at a very fine restaurant and shared a bite. I must admit, it was a surprisingly good experience. But only the best chefs have a clue what it is, and only some of them know how to do it, and only a few of them have a steak at room temperature with which to begin the process…)

    No wonder their magazines lost my interest a few years (decades?) back. It was the feint smell of bubble gum seeping through…

  15. After my reply to Baillie’s response was posted on CCNet, Baillie submitted the following to the CCNet editor.

    Dear Benny, well now we begin to get a clearer picture of Mr Douglas Keenan’s demands for environmental data under Freedom of Information, and of your failure to use your editorial control to temper potentially libellous statements on CCNet. Mr Keenan CCNet 19 Aug 2009 now states: “To summarize, the untruthfulness in Baillie’s Response is so obvious that it seems unlikely that it was intended to be believed.” I absolutely refute the charge that there was anything in my 18 Aug 2009 Response that was untruthful. Untruthful is a very powerful word; it is the sort of word that can affect one’s reputation; academics do not use it lightly.

    Reaching for a handy dictionary I looked up the definition of libel. It says libel n, published statement damaging to person’s reputation. You don’t have to look much further to find criminal libel ~ deliberate defamatory statement in permanent form.

    I would assume that publishing a statement accusing someone of untruthfulness could be construed as publishing a statement damaging to that person’s reputation, hence libel? I don’t remember, in nearly 40 years of academic life, ever having been accused of untruthfulness before. Perhaps you would like to ask Mr Keenan to withdraw, unreservedly, the accusation of untruthfulness he has made against me on your website. You might also like to consider the robustness of your favorite disclaimer: As the CCNet disclaimer states explicitly: “The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed in the articles and texts and in other CCNet contributions do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the editor.” Like it or not, the statement at issue here is on a website over which you exercise editorial control.
    Mike Baillie 19 Aug 2009

    My surrejoinder was as follows.

    WITHOUT PREJUDICE

    Mike,

    Benny forwarded your rejoinder to me. Regarding libel, the definition given in your rejoinder is incorrect. The correct definition is “a false and defamatory statement in writing, film, or other permanent form”. Note the word “false”: truth is an absolute defense against libel.

    Your rejoinder does not provide particulars of what you believe to be false. Are you still claiming, as you did on CCNet, that QUB is not “deliberately withholding data of climatic significance”? And that QUB tree-ring researchers “have the expertise to analyze the data themselves”?

    In any case, I have published our exchange on my web site:
    http://www.informath.org/apprise/a3900/b090818.htm
    http://www.informath.org/apprise/a3900/b090819.htm
    If you want to sue some entity, it should probably be me. If you do so, I will ask the court to rule that what my reply stated was truthful.

    Sincerely, Doug

    (The editor of CCNet opted to not publish this.)

  16. kim says:

    Douglas DC 11:13:56

    Yes, I agree, the parallels are abundant. This cracking of the paradigm that CO2=AGW will not have quite so grand an effect on man’s conception of his place in the universe as Galileo’s heresy did, but the immediate social consequences will be far greater.
    ===================================

  17. AnonyMoose says:

    Thus anyone wanting to undertake research on tree-rings from the British Isles with respect to climate variables simply has to go into the NOAA World Data Centre for Paleoclimatology…

    Baillie mentioned a few QU data collections which are on that Centre. Keenan already pointed out that QU has made some data available, but not all of it, and the QU inquiries have confirmed that there is a lot of data which is not yet available.

    Baillie does state that for some meanings of “available”, the data is available. If you go to QUB you can get the data, for some meanings of “can”. It doesn’t sound like the data is on open shelves in the library, so you’d have to get permission from the proper people to dig around in the filing cabinets to find the data and copy it. Having a hundred visiting researchers digging around in filing cabinets, and wearing out the disks, somehow seems like it would require more effort from QUB than copying the data once to a modern high-capacity storage device.

    There is the problem that the tree ring laboratory is closed, so there is no staff assigned to assist visiting researchers. Nor to arrange the lab’s data. There should be an executor assigned to the lab’s estate to get its belongings in order; in the case of data, that should include access by researchers who can continue the deceased lab’s work.

    Baillie thinks that QUB researchers are qualified to do work on this data. Yet inquiries indicate that the data is not in a readily accessible form. So if they’re qualified to work with the data, why is the data not being used? There has been no indication that certain parts of the data are already in modern storage devices due to researchers currently working on it. Or perhaps QUB’s researchers only have computers with floppy disk drives, and only the administrative staff has computers powerful enough to handle Internet technologies.

  18. George E. Smith says:

    So given that the tree section isa fake; been a lot of that stuff around lately; does anybody have a decent picture of a real tree section so we can see if the fake is typical of real.

    In any case, I’m quite sure the sampling methodology is sub par.

    George

  19. Philip_B says:

    Now all of this is really about principles – the question of ownership of scientific data and the principle of scientific replicability and analysis that can only happen if data and methodology are willingly shared.

    This is not about principles, and it is a mistake to characterise it as such.

    You misrepresent scientific replicability. Using someones existing data and your own analysis is not replication.

    Replication of the study would require boring the same or equivalent trees and performing an equivalent analysis.

    And,

    Ownership of data is a legal issue. Principles have nothing to do with it. If the UK;s FOI makes this data public domain then pursue that with the relevant authorities.

    Remember, angry and inflammatory language will get you nowhere with these ombudsman type functions.

    What is needed is to state your case clearly and document the relevant facts, Then use facts to counter whatever the other party claims.

    The FOI authority doesn’t understand the issues and history behind an FOI request, Nor should they. It is their job to enforce the law as written. Nor do they care about the emotions and motivations of the parties involved,

    Make their job easy by phrasing what you require in terms of the legislation and provide the relevant facts, and just the facts.

    Otherwise,

    Science where the data is kept secret is second class science and should not be cited. But this an unrelated issue to FOI.

  20. Dave says:

    OT:
    Anthony, I noticed Peter Sinclair’s video is back on YouTube. WUWT?

  21. Philip_B says:

    I am sure scientific fraud occurs far more than anyone is prepared to admit. Experiments don’t work for many reasons and frequently there isn’t the time or money to redo the experiment properly. A dud experiment means you can’t publish. So there is a strong motivation to hide the problems and massage the data. This is especially true in the highly politicized climate science, where ‘everyone’ knows the result you should get.

    But making accusations of scientific fraud is very serious and if proven would result in ruined careers.

    However, scientific fraud also has nothing to do with FOI except to the extent the FOI legislation states possible fraud is a basis for an FOI request. And I very much doubt this is the case.

  22. Steven Hill says:

    This just in from the AP
    In hot water: World sets ocean temperature record

    Meteorologists said there’s a combination of forces at work: A natural El Nino system just getting started on top of worsening man-made global warming, and a dash of random weather variations. The resulting ocean heat is already harming threatened coral reefs. It could also hasten the melting of Arctic sea ice and help hurricanes strengthen.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090820/ap_on_sc/us_sci_warm_oceans

    We are all doomed and everyone here just sits and does nothing to stop it.

    Can’t someone block out the sun or something?

    Wink

  23. Ken Hall says:

    EM Smith, Damn, but you had my mouth watering with your excellent description of a real bleu steak……

    And back on topic, Nature stopped being a reliable science journal several years ago and is now little more than a political comic. I would not even use it for toilet paper.

  24. steven mosher says:

    E.M.Smith (12:45:46) :

    head over to CA. Hu or others can help. there was a long thread on mapping and projections.

    have you got gistemp running?

  25. rbateman says:

    Joe Miner (08:53:00) :

    Yes, I remember watching the record unfold. When the monthly SIDC reports came out, there were statistical spoiler Tiny Tims that smashed the observed run. They were fleeting and faint occurences that had no real bearing on the true nature of what transpired. They didn’t count those 100 yrs ago.
    It was very sad to see.

  26. LarryD says:

    It’s amazing how many people seem to have forgotten the fundamentals of the scientific method. The whole review of methods and data and reproduction of results by independent researchers.

    Of course, when you know you’re engaging in fraud …

  27. Christopher says:

    I tell one thing on Solaemon’s spotless days page does even show 51 spotless days on the graph. What gives there?

  28. Alejo says:

    Re. equal-area latitude bands.

    Look at this page:
    http://mathforum.org/dr.math/faq/formulas/faq.sphere.html

    A sector of the sphere (which is what you’re looking for), has area

    A = 2 * Pi * r * h

    where r is the sphere’s radius, and h is the height of the sector (ie, the extent, along the sphere’s axis, of the sector’s orthogonal projection). Notice that the area only depends on the sector height, which greatly simplifies the problem: just chop the earth into N horizontal “pancake” slices, all with equal thickness. From this, you can draw a cross section of the Earth, draw a right triangle whose three sides are:
    the top of the k-th slice,
    the piece of the axis from the equatorial plane to the top of the k-th slice,
    the line from the Eath’s centre to where the top of the slice cuts the surface,
    and see that
    sin(latitude) = k/N

    For example, if N = 10 slices, you get these angles:
    k=1: 5.73 degrees
    k=2: 11.54 degrees
    k=3: 17.46 degrees
    k=4: 23.58 degrees
    k=5: 30.00 degrees exactly
    k=6: 36.87 degrees
    k=7: 44.43 degrees
    k=8: 53.13 degrees
    k=9: 64.16 degrees
    k=10: 90.00 degrees exactly (the North pole is the top of the topmost slice)

    Alejo

  29. Allan M R MacRae says:

    OT, but what is this????

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/In-hot-water-World-sets-ocean-apf-1959202083.html?x=0&sec=topStories&pos=1&asset=&ccode=

    In hot water: World sets ocean temperature record

    Swimming in warm waters of … Maine? Summer seas seem on boil as oceans smash heat records

    By Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer

    On Thursday August 20, 2009, 6:01 pm EDT
    Buzz up! 0 Print
    WASHINGTON (AP) — Steve Kramer spent an hour and a half swimming in the ocean Sunday — in Maine.

    The water temperature was 72 degrees — more like Ocean City, Md., this time of year. And Ocean City’s water temp hit 88 degrees this week, toasty even by Miami Beach standards.

    Kramer, 26, who lives in the seaside town of Scarborough, said it was the first time he’s ever swam so long in Maine’s coastal waters. “Usually, you’re in five minutes and you’re out,” he said.

    It’s not just the ocean off the Northeast coast that is super-warm this summer. July was the hottest the world’s oceans have been in almost 130 years of record-keeping.

    The average water temperature worldwide was 62.6 degrees, according to the National Climatic Data Center, the branch of the U.S. government that keeps world weather records. That was 1.1 degree higher than the 20th century average, and beat the previous high set in 1998 by a couple hundredths of a degree. The coolest recorded ocean temperature was 59.3 degrees in December 1909.

    Meteorologists said there’s a combination of forces at work this year: A natural El Nino system just getting started on top of worsening man-made global warming, and a dash of random weather variations. The resulting ocean heat is already harming threatened coral reefs. It could also hasten the melting of Arctic sea ice and help hurricanes strengthen.

    The Gulf of Mexico, where warm water fuels hurricanes, has temperatures dancing around 90. Most of the water in the Northern Hemisphere has been considerably warmer than normal. The Mediterranean is about three degrees warmer than normal. Higher temperatures rule in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

    The heat is most noticeable near the Arctic, where water temperatures are as much as 10 degrees above average. The tongues of warm water could help melt sea ice from below and even cause thawing of ice sheets on Greenland, said Waleed Abdalati, director of the Earth Science and Observation Center at the University of Colorado.

    Breaking heat records in water is more ominous as a sign of global warming than breaking temperature marks on land, because water takes longer to heat up and does not cool off as easily as land.

    “This warm water we’re seeing doesn’t just disappear next year; it’ll be around for a long time,” said climate scientist Andrew Weaver of the University of Victoria in British Columbia. It takes five times more energy to warm water than land.

    The warmer water “affects weather on the land,” Weaver said. “This is another yet really important indicator of the change that’s occurring.”

    Georgia Institute of Technology atmospheric science professor Judith Curry said water is warming in more places than usual, something that has not been seen in more than 50 years.

    Add to that an unusual weather pattern this summer where the warmest temperatures seem to be just over oceans, while slightly cooler air is concentrated over land, said Deke Arndt, head of climate monitoring at the climate data center.

    The pattern is so unusual that he suggested meteorologists may want to study that pattern to see what’s behind it.

    The effects of that warm water are already being seen in coral reefs, said C. Mark Eakin, coordinator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s coral reef watch. Long-term excessive heat bleaches colorful coral reefs white and sometimes kills them.

    Bleaching has started to crop up in the Florida Keys, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands — much earlier than usual. Typically, bleaching occurs after weeks or months of prolonged high water temperatures. That usually means September or October in the Caribbean, said Eakin. He found bleaching in Guam Wednesday. It’s too early to know if the coral will recover or die. Experts are “bracing for another bad year,” he said.

    The problems caused by the El Nino pattern are likely to get worse, the scientists say.

    An El Nino occurs when part of the central Pacific warms up, which in turn changes weather patterns worldwide for many months. El Nino and its cooling flip side, La Nina, happen every few years.

    During an El Nino, temperatures on water and land tend to rise in many places, leading to an increase in the overall global average temperature. An El Nino has other effects, too, including dampening Atlantic hurricane formation and increasing rainfall and mudslides in Southern California.

    Warm water is a required fuel for hurricanes. What’s happening in the oceans “will add extra juice to the hurricanes,” Curry said.

    Hurricane activity has been quiet for much of the summer, but that may change soon, she said. Hurricane Bill quickly became a major storm and the National Hurricane Center warned that warm waters are along the path of the hurricane for the next few days.

    Hurricanes need specific air conditions, so warmer water alone does not necessarily mean more or bigger storms, said James Franklin, chief hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

  30. keith says:

    this is OT: I saw the latest AGW fear mongering article on the yahoo homepage:
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090820/ap_on_sc/us_sci_warm_oceans
    I grow up in Ocean City, MD and lifeguard there for years. The water has never gotten to 88F, EVER. I called the OC beach Patrol at 410 289-7556. they take the ocean temp everyday and keep records. Lt. Tim Uebel said it got up to 80F last week and is currently 74F. He also confirmed it NEVER EVER got to 88F. Where did they get the 88F from in the article??? The USCG doesn’t have it either.

  31. F Rasmin says:

    Ken Hall (14:15:20) : Add New Scientist and Scientific American to that list.

  32. Craigo says:

    Just when you thought it was getting silly, Australia’s Nine Network carried a report labelling our warmist Dr Tim Flannery as a “Climate Change Scientist” – now there’s one I hadn’t seen before. Makes me wonder is he is actually changing climate – well at least the State Government is convinced although caught by the fact that they enjoy huge royalties from cold mining.

  33. kim says:

    Steven Hill 14:10:23

    Leif’s got it all under control. ::grin::
    =======================

  34. Philip Mulholland says:

    E.M.Smith (12:45:46) :

    Would a sine curve help?

    Sine Radians Degrees
    0.0 0.000000 0.000000
    0.1 0.100167 5.739170
    0.2 0.201358 11.536959
    0.3 0.304693 17.457603
    0.4 0.411517 23.578178
    0.5 0.523599 30.000000
    0.6 0.643501 36.869898
    0.7 0.775397 44.427004
    0.8 0.927295 53.130102
    0.9 1.119770 64.158067
    1.0 1.570796 90.000000

    Half the surface area of a sphere lies between latitudes 30N & 30S

  35. George E. Smith says:

    I’m rather amazed at the number of anonymous posters here who cite a need to hide their identity, since it is politically incorrect to let their opinions be known at the institutions they now work for.

    That logical paradox leads to the obvious question; just who is that they are lying to.

    If you aren’t voicing your honest scientific opinion at the Institutions who pay for your services or researches; how do you justify collecting your pay check.

    Perhaps you should change your career goals to something that doesn’t require open and honest discussion of real facts; or write fiction books or something.

    In industrial research; one of the most important scientific or engineering conclusions you can reach, is that you have no business continuing the project you are working on; so you should cut your losses, and move on to something that has more business rationale for doing. Employers don’t like being lied to, just to keep working on a dead duck project.

    George

  36. cba says:


    Steven Hill (14:10:23) :

    This just in from the AP
    In hot water: World sets ocean temperature record

    Meteorologists said there’s a combination of forces at work: A natural El Nino system just getting started on top of worsening man-made global warming, and a dash of random weather variations. The resulting ocean heat is already harming threatened coral reefs. It could also hasten the melting of Arctic sea ice and help hurricanes strengthen.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090820/ap_on_sc/us_sci_warm_oceans

    We are all doomed and everyone here just sits and does nothing to stop it.

    Can’t someone block out the sun or something?

    Wink

    Just give Mercury 2 yanks and Venus a counter clockwise half turn. THat’ll put the blower on high and turn down the Sun’s thermostat by several degrees. That aughta fix the AGW T problem for now.

  37. peat says:

    E.M.Smith (12:45:46) : BTW, if anyone just happens to know what the latitudes, in degrees, would be for a set of, oh, 9? 10? equal area latitude bands on the globe, that would save me re-learning how to do all that radians and spherical area stuff… and converting it to degrees. (Area of a band is R(squared)delta(angle in radians)cos(angle in radians); then I need to to solve for [earth area / (that area of what deltaAngle)] = 1/9; then I need to extract deltaAngle, then I need to turn that into degrees… then I need to repeat it for 9 slices of the earth and then… And I can do that, but it would be quicker if someone just happens to have a table of equal area latitude bands by degrees latitude… )

    For fun I derived the formula you need. You can make however many equal-area divisions you like with a recursion formula. The formula gives you the latitude boundaries between the regions. You pick N, the number of regions you want. Start with angle a=90 degrees. Then generate the next angle a’ from the previous one until you reach the equator (at a=0) as follows:

    a’ = arcsin(sin(a) – 1/N)

    Here’s a table indicating the latitude boundaries between N=10 equal-area regions:

    90.0000
    64.1581
    53.1301
    44.4270
    36.8699
    30.0000
    23.5782
    17.4576
    11.5370
    5.7392
    0.0000

  38. walshamatic says:

    Climate Progress…..

    “YouTube, Sinclair prove Anthony Watts knows as much about copyright laws as about climate science”

    Looks like ROMM does not like Anthony…..

  39. walshamatic says:

    I should say that climate progess has a post about Anthony…

    The man behind the top anti-scientific website WattsUpWithThat regularly defames top climate scientists and pushes the most seemingly detailed but ultimately nonsensical analyses (see here) — yet he could not even be bothered to spend one minute googling “copyright laws” or “fair use.” The result: Not only did he publish the most embarrassing, torturous and self-revealing defense of censorship ever seen on the blogosphere but, YouTube has now (inevitably) sided with Sinclair and reposted the original video:

  40. Bill Illis says:

    If there is tree-ring data going back 7,000 years, then that should be published / made available. I don’t necessarily believe in the ring-width = temperature proposition but a tree-ring database going back 7,000 years will provide some valuable information.

    Since there are a few posts on surface area and latitude in this thread and I just finished calculating this, here is % of total earth surface area in each 10 degree latitude band.

    Latitude Band % Earth Surface Area
    80-90N 0.760
    70-80 2.256
    60-70 3.683
    50-60 4.999
    40-50 6.163
    30-40 7.139
    20-30 7.899
    10-20 8.418
    0-10N 8.682
    0-10S 8.682
    10-20 8.418
    20-30 7.899
    30-40 7.139
    40-50 6.163
    50-60 4.999
    60-70 3.683
    70-80 2.256
    80-90S 0.760

    Total 99.998

  41. Smokey says:

    walshamatic (16:38:50),

    Ever since WUWT won the Weblog Award for BEST SCIENCE site, Romm has been ratcheting up the venom. He is consumed with envy, especially since his blog didn’t even make the finals.

    Poor Joe, just a schmuck.

  42. Shihad says:

    I’m guess this is a moot point but isn’t the Earth an ellipsoid not a sphere.

    I’m guessing the 41 miles difference is not going to affect calculations though to the SF that are being used.

  43. I was almost the umpteenth person to post about the warm-ocean story.

  44. Don S. says:

    Ohh yes> I love this stuff. Let the dogs of War be unleashed. No more effete arguments.

  45. JAE says:

    Not to be too pedantic, but there are other ways to interpret the rings in that tree cross-section figure. Here’s another possible interpretation:

    For the first 9-10 years, that poor damn tree was being seriously choked by its neighbors, which were fighting with it and each other for all the nutrients and water in the soil. But in about year 10, along came a wonderful logger (the Saviour, The One, the Messiah …) who thinned the forest, cutting all the other weaklings out, and allowing this wonderful specimen to grow faster (i.e., it was “released,” instead of encountering a “rainy season” as wrongly indicated on the figure). Along came the forest fire in about year 11, which slowed the growth considerably. But our specimen recovered by year 15, and would have lived happily ever-after, if some frigging evil dendrologist or climatologist had not ended its life at year 17. :)

  46. Retired BChe says:

    Many years ago I read a book, “Sunspots and their Effects” by Harlan T. Stetson, which claimed that the width of tree rings corresponded to the ca. 11-year cycle of sunspot activity, and that the ultraviolet component of sunlight became relatively much stronger in periods of high sunspot activity. If this is the case, how can the effects of temperature on tree ring growth be backed out to give a sensitivity to a fraction of a degree of temperature? This book also attempted to show a correlation of GDP and stock market performance with sunspots. In 2007 a new study, “Sunspots, GDP and the stock market” was authored by Theodore Modis in ‘Science Direct’, without any attempt to establish casualty. (www.sciencedirect.com) It is curious that the current severe recession corresponds to a very unusual prolonged lack of sunspots. I see many references here to the sun’s magnetic effects, but has anyone looked at the variations in ultraviolet light as a percent of total radiation?

  47. savethesharks says:

    So while tree-ring controversies rage…and warm sea temperatures threaten to bleach coral reefs…..

    Meanwhile the forecast minimum at Vostok, Antarctica for monday night late in the austral winter, is minus 122 degrees fahrenheit.

    -105F there now. Brrrr.

    Chris
    Norfolk, VA

  48. Kum Dollison says:

    Well, it makes sense about the Ocean Temperatures. There haven’t been many hurricanes the last couple of years.

    What does this mean for “Atmospheric” Temperatures, going forward?

  49. Jimmy Haigh says:

    George E. Smith (16:04:39) :

    I’m with you George. Why are so many people afraid to use their own name? But each to their own…

  50. par5 says:

    savethesharks (20:40:45)

    “Meanwhile the forecast minimum at Vostok, Antarctica for monday night late in the austral winter, is minus 122 degrees fahrenheit”

    Do we get to argue about co2 freezing and partial pressure again?

  51. Al Gored says:

    George E. Smith (13:33:05) :

    A nice place for tree-ring stuff is the Ultimate Tree-Ring Web Pages.

    There are several pictures of cross sections of trees showing the rings at
    http://web.utk.edu/~grissino/gallery.htm#Rings

    (click on the thumbnails for larger images).

  52. Anonymous says:

    George E. Smith (16:04:39) :
    Re anonymity in posting.

    I read regularly and post periodically here under a handle. I work as a consultant and supplying contract research for industry, including large and many small companies that are looking for advantage from AGW and many that have no interest in it or for whom it is counter to their interests. I regularly talk to government, funding agencies also (UK based). I obtain funding for my client’s work – sometimes in their name, sometimes in my own for work wit my organisation. I do have specific areas of expertise but no ‘stance’; people do google me – I need to be seen to be neutral so as not to risk losing work or being sidelined in any way.

    Am I lying to them by not being open about my scepticism? I don’t think so. I do mention it when asked by trusted clients; I like to think I can give them good advice, by injecting a healthy dose of caution into ‘warmist’ plans – a balanced view. Industry and business need to consider the risk of anything they plan to do. That is the worrying thing; so many small companies believe that the science is settled and don’t have the expertise to look at the science themselves.

  53. Highlander says:

    So, let me see here: The original story remarked of the trials and tribulations related to getting access to data which was not forthcoming.
    .
    The reply —in gist— is: Oh, you can get it elsewhere!
    .
    THAT is NOT the answer to the question, which was: WHY can’t the researcher obtain the data from QUB?
    .
    I don’t care that the data might be obtained elsewhere. WHY the refusal to reveal the data held by QUB?!?!
    .
    JUST WHAT is the deal there?

  54. JER0ME says:

    QUB: anyone wanting to undertake research on tree-rings from the British Isles with respect to climate variables simply has to go into the NOAA World Data Centre for Paleoclimatology and access the data laboriously assembled, measured, documented and presented by workers at Queen’s University Belfast.
    Doug: Access? I had to go down to a cellar!
    QUB: That’s the where it is kept.
    Doug: I eventually found them in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘beware of the leopard’.

    H/T to Douglas Adams, of course.

  55. Jack Simmons says:

    E.M.Smith (12:45:46) :

    Maybe we just need a blanket rule that any article where the author is unwilling to share the data and methods must be automatically retracted by any peer reviewed journal (on the grounds of irreproducibility). Maybe that would do it… Seems like a reasonable rule to me…

    Well dummy me. Up until the big fight over the hockey stick, I had thought data and methods were always shared.

    Also, how can peers review without access to data and methods?

    E.M.Smith, an excellent suggestion.

    And we can take it a step further. The data and methods have to be stored in a neutral, secure archive, available to all. This could be the first step in the review process, store your data and methods in the science archives, then submit your paper. At first, only the reviewing peers would have access. But once published, open to all. Here’s the kicker, if the paper is rejected for publication, author would have the option of opening it to all, without peer review.

    Google likes to gather things and make them available to all. Why not let those folks do the job?

    In any event, I will just start noting what papers have data and methods available and rejecting those that don’t.

  56. Mark N says:

    Using your real/full name can mean jobs lost for expressing opinions that powerful people might not like. Take a look at the antics of Prince Charles over the decades!

  57. Fred2 says:

    The Danes & Swedes have an extensive tree ring program and thanks to bogs have records going back thousands of years. If the Brits won’t play maybe the Scandinavians will?

  58. George E. Smith says:

    “”” Jimmy Haigh (23:50:28) :

    George E. Smith (16:04:39) :

    I’m with you George. Why are so many people afraid to use their own name? But each to their own… “””

    Jimmy, I have often wondered to what extent the academically anonymous have created their own intelectual prison by going along with the crowd to begin with. Once the tyrants see the effectiveness of their “toe the line” dictates, that just reinforces their use of it; to academically enslave their victims.

    For the record, I have given a direct URL to exactly which of the thousands of George E. Smiths out there on every street corner I really am, to Chasmod, and by inference to Anthony, and there is at least a short bio somwhere in Marc Morano’s Senate Minority EPW report on 400 (now over 700) consensus detractors. I don’t mind being held to account for what I say; and sometimes I screw up; and maybe somebody else (like Phil for example) will yank me to my senses, and make me see the error of my ways.

    You know there is no embarrasment in saying “I was wrong”. There are no dumb questions; only those that are never aksed.

    My mantra is that ignorance is not a disease; we are all born with it; but stupidity has to be taught, and there are plenty who are ready, willing and able to teach it.

    The beauty of open blogs like Anthony has here, is that we can all learn from each other. There always seems to be some lurker or prowler; or regular contributor, that has special insight to some facet or other. eventually we can iron out a lot of mysteries between ourselves.

    By the way; I don’t minimize the pressures that those in academia are subjected to; maybe that’s why I got out of there before I became infected myself. And maybe as a result of this present international donnybrook; that can be changed in the future, and science can become more open again.

    George

  59. Why exactly would anyone use their real name on the Internet unless they are a professional with a salary large enough to cover an impressive security system and enough money to cover a period of unemployment if one’s boss ever found out what they think on controversial issues. There are a lot of unstable people out there and many of them are hard enough to work for or with when they don’t know how you feel. While one should never feel that anything one says is eternally and totally anonymous, encouraging people to put their name on everything they say is bad advice, especially for younger people in or entering any field.

    Not to mention that every piece of info you put out – a name, a birth date, a general location of residence – serves as a clue to getting more info. Being cyber safe isn’t just for kiddies ya know.

  60. AnonyMoose says:

    In my case, clients have already shot themselves in the foot to get rid of me because they didn’t like my views, even though what I was working on was not relevant to my views, and they lost the improvements which I made. They also claimed that I frequented biased sites of which I was not aware, and which I still don’t frequent, but they’d be just as upset to find me here.

  61. Pragmatic says:

    Its easy to see how a science magazine’s published output can be skewed to the belief system of those junior editors.

    Yes. Which speaks to the gating effect of a handful of publications deemed “scientific.” The antidote to information bottlenecks is free access to knowledge via alternative channels. Thus the internet and blogs like this (and an expanding list of others) provide balance. The public is the free to choose to believe MSM/establishment publications all touting allegiance to global warming, or the considered voices of skeptics.

    In the end, these junior editors dig the hole into which the alarmists fall.

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