Response from Briffa on the Yamal tree ring affair – plus rebuttal

First here is Dr. Keith Briffa’s response in entirety direct from his CRU web page:

Dr_Keith_Briffa
Dr. Keith Briffa of the Hadley Climate Research Unit - early undated photo from CRU web page

My attention has been drawn to a comment by Steve McIntyre on the Climate Audit website relating to the pattern of radial tree growth displayed in the ring-width chronology “Yamal” that I first published in Briffa (2000). The substantive implication of McIntyre’s comment (made explicitly in subsequent postings by others) is that the recent data that make up this chronology (i.e. the ring-width measurements from living trees) were purposely selected by me from among a larger available data set, specifically because they exhibited recent growth increases.

This is not the case. The Yamal tree-ring chronology (see also Briffa and Osborn 2002, Briffa et al. 2008) was based on the application of a tree-ring processing method applied to the same set of composite sub-fossil and living-tree ring-width measurements provided to me by Rashit Hantemirov and Stepan Shiyatov which forms the basis of a chronology they published (Hantemirov and Shiyatov 2002). In their work they traditionally applied a data processing method (corridor standardisation) that does not preserve evidence of long timescale growth changes. My application of the Regional Curve Standardisation method to these same data was intended to better represent the multi-decadal to centennial growth variations necessary to infer the longer-term variability in average summer temperatures in the Yamal region: to provide a direct comparison with the chronology produced by Hantemirov and Shiyatov.

These authors state that their data (derived mainly from measurements of relic wood dating back over more than 2,000 years) included 17 ring-width series derived from living trees that were between 200-400 years old. These recent data included measurements from at least 3 different locations in the Yamal region. In his piece, McIntyre replaces a number (12) of these original measurement series with more data (34 series) from a single location (not one of the above) within the Yamal region, at which the trees apparently do not show the same overall growth increase registered in our data.

The basis for McIntyre’s selection of which of our (i.e. Hantemirov and Shiyatov’s) data to exclude and which to use in replacement is not clear but his version of the chronology shows lower relative growth in recent decades than is displayed in my original chronology. He offers no justification for excluding the original data; and in one version of the chronology where he retains them, he appears to give them inappropriate low weights. I note that McIntyre qualifies the presentation of his version(s) of the chronology by reference to a number of valid points that require further investigation. Subsequent postings appear to pay no heed to these caveats. Whether the McIntyre version is any more robust a representation of regional tree growth in Yamal than my original, remains to be established.

My colleagues and I are working to develop methods that are capable of expressing robust evidence of climate changes using tree-ring data. We do not select tree-core samples based on comparison with climate data. Chronologies are constructed independently and are subsequently compared with climate data to measure the association and quantify the reliability of using the tree-ring data as a proxy for temperature variations.

Dr. Keith Briffa in 2007
Dr. Keith Briffa in 2007 from this CRU web page: http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/people/photo/keith2007b.jpg

We have not yet had a chance to explore the details of McIntyre’s analysis or its implication for temperature reconstruction at Yamal but we have done considerably more analyses exploring chronology production and temperature calibration that have relevance to this issue but they are not yet published. I do not believe that McIntyre’s preliminary post provides sufficient evidence to doubt the reality of unusually high summer temperatures in the last decades of the 20th century.

We will expand on this initial comment on the McIntyre posting when we have had a chance to review the details of his work.

K.R. Briffa

30 Sept 2009

  • Briffa, K. R. 2000. Annual climate variability in the Holocene: interpreting the message of ancient trees. Quaternary Science Reviews 19:87-105.
  • Briffa, K. R., and T. J. Osborn. 2002. Paleoclimate – Blowing hot and cold. Science 295:2227-2228.
  • Briffa, K. R., V. V. Shishov, T. M. Melvin, E. A. Vaganov, H. Grudd, R. M. Hantemirov, M. Eronen, and M. M. Naurzbaev. 2008. Trends in recent temperature and radial tree growth spanning 2000 years across northwest Eurasia. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences 363:2271-2284.
  • Hantemirov, R. M., and S. G. Shiyatov. 2002. A continuous multimillennial ring-width chronology in Yamal, northwestern Siberia. Holocene 12:717-726.

Now a few points of my own:

1. Plotting the entire Hantemirov and Shiyatov data set, as I’ve done here, shows it to be almost flat not only in the late 20th century, but through much of its period.

Yamal-Hantemirov-Shiyatov-0_2000_zoomed2
Zoomed to last 50 years - click for larger image

How do you explain why your small set of  10 trees shows a late 20th century spike while the majority of Hantemirov and Shiyatov data does not? You write in your rebuttal:

“He offers no justification for excluding the original data; and in one version of the chronology where he retains them, he appears to give them inappropriate low weights.”

Justify your own method of selecting 10 trees out of a much larger data set. You’ve failed to do that. That’s the million dollar question.

Briffa Writes: “My application of the Regional Curve Standardisation method to these same data was intended to better represent the multi-decadal to centennial growth variations necessary to infer the longer-term variability in average summer temperatures in the Yamal region: to provide a direct comparison with the chronology produced by Hantemirov and Shiyatov.

OK Fair enough, but why not do it for the entire data set, why only a small subset?

2. It appears that your results are heavily influenced by a single tree, as Steve McIntyre has just demonstrated here.

Briffa_single_tree_YAD061
10 CRU trees ending in 1990. Age-adjusted index.

As McIntyre points out: “YAD061 reaches 8 sigma and is the most influential tree in the world.”

Seems like an outlier to me when you have one tree that can skew the entire climate record. Explain yourself on why you failed to catch this.

3. Why the hell did you wait 10 years to release the data? You did yourself no favors by deferring reasonable requests to archive data to enable replication. It was only when you became backed into a corner by The Royal Society that you made the data available. Your delays and roadblocks (such as providing an antique data format of the punched card era), plus refusing to provide metadata says more about your integrity than the data itself. Your actions make it appear that you did not want to release the data at all. Your actions are not consistent with the actions of the vast majority of scientists worldwide when asked for data for replication purposes. Making data available on paper publication for replication is the basis of proper science, which is why The Royal Society called you to task.

Read about it here

Yet while it takes years to produce your data despite repeated requests, you can mount a response to Steve McIntyre’s findings on that data in a couple of days, through illness even.

Do I believe Dr. Keith Briffa?  No.


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hunter
October 1, 2009 9:02 am

Where is his explanation for hiding the data for years?
Where is anything beyond a bland dismissal?
And it is clear from the way he frames the issue that they are not interested in seeing what the trees say. They are out to prove their conclusions.
As said before, they are carving data to fabricate a hockey stick.

John S.
October 1, 2009 9:09 am

Stone-age analysis methods lead to stonewalling.

Antonio San
October 1, 2009 9:11 am

Well come on you all:
We all commented the silence of the Team was deafening. Briffa has to release something in the genre “his work against my word I did not do it”, regardless how weak. On one hand they always criticize Steve for the lack of peer reviewed publications but here Briffa retreates behind his work not yet published…
Again the next piece of puzzle will come once the raw Temperature data used for HADCRUT will be released. The stonewalling of data release is disheartening: imagine withholding financial data from IRA or CRA and claim you did not evade taxes…

CodeTech
October 1, 2009 9:13 am

Quote:

My colleagues and I are working to develop methods that are capable of expressing robust evidence of climate changes using tree-ring data

Mr. Briffa, I need read no further.
You have now explained yourself, and your goal. That goal has nothing to do with Science, or the discovery of truth, it is only the mundane, self-serving goal of proving your pet theory.
Shame on you, and your colleagues.

October 1, 2009 9:14 am

Although YAD061 looks like an outlier, the other trees do show a rise from ~1820 to today [albeit smaller] so the record [based on those threes] does not look entirely flat to me.
REPLY: Indeed they do, but what is the cause? Logging making less nearby competing trees for sunlight? A reindeer herd that starts frequenting the area providing more fertilizer? Change in streamflow nearby due to a storm, resulting in a change to the local water table? There could be hundreds of reasons besides climatic temperature change. As I pointed out in this post:
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/09/28/a-look-at-treemometers-and-tree-ring-growth/
There are many limiting growth factors all working in concert. It only takes a change in one to change the growth of the tree.
– Anthony

FerdinandAkin
October 1, 2009 9:14 am

I believe what Dr. Briffa is telling is the truth.
He is just not telling all of the truth.

Richie
October 1, 2009 9:15 am

doesn’t say much really if you ask me

SteveSadlov
October 1, 2009 9:16 am

Ah, so he’s a victim of Russian disinfo.

October 1, 2009 9:17 am

“Do I believe Dr. Keith Briffa? No.”
Same here !!

October 1, 2009 9:17 am

RC has made a statement/post.

MattN
October 1, 2009 9:17 am

Not buying it.
“Received inappropriote low weight” = “didn’t recieved the heavy weighting I gave it to get the HS shape”
“He offers no justification for excluding the original data;”
Can Briffa justify excluding the dozens of chronologies in the first place?

Antonio San
October 1, 2009 9:18 am

FYI About Tom P., his post on Realclimate:
“3Tom P says:
1 October 2009 at 9:56 AM
Reports of the death of Biffra’s hockey stick have been much exaggerated.
Steve McIntyre actually dealt the deathblow to his own analysis when he graphed the live tree data in the Briffa/H&S set with his preferred Schweingruber alternative. McIntyre’s alternative was dominated by trees much too short to detect any centennial trend, as I pointed out to him.
Here is what I hope is close to the final exchange at Climate Audit, for the benefit of those who don’t visit often:
Steve McIntyre:
“However, I disagree that the trees in the CRU archive are “much longer-lived”, other than the trees selected for the modern comparison.”
Tom P:
“But the modern comparison was the subject of your original sensitivity analysis that was supposed to have broken the Yamal hockeystick!
“All you have done is inject noise into the Biffra/H&S series by adding in much shorter lived trees. This also explains why the Schweingruber series did not well correlate with the instrumental temperature.”
I wonder how Steve is now feeling with all the attention he is getting. Hubris might describe it.”

PJMM
October 1, 2009 9:19 am

“Your delays and roadblocks (such as providing an antique data format of the punched card era), plus refusing to provide metadata says more about your integrity than the data itself. Your actions make it appear that you did not want to release the data at all.”
Thanks for that. In the name of science and the people, who refuses to be traped in these kind of “scientists”.

Robert Wood
October 1, 2009 9:20 am

It’s a remarkable turn around that he deigns to respond at all; a sign of serious stuff hitting big fans in the UK, I expect. And even then, he gives no answer to all the questions we have.

George Tobin
October 1, 2009 9:20 am

1) Dr. Briffa deserves some credit for making a measured response and acknowledging that the issues have been raised given the intensity of the response generated by McIntyre’s devastating posts.
2) With respect to the charge of cherry-picking I find Dr. Briffa’s response incomplete at best: “…methods that are capable of expressing robust evidence of climate changes using tree-ring data” does not exclude the possibility of simply redefining methods and massaging algorithms until the set that produces the most PC results can be identified and deployed.
Where the bulk of available raw data does not show a particular pattern, any method of filtering, weighting, selection (whatever) that winds up with a ringing affirmation of a politically charged hypothesis is inherently suspect. Unless and until those “methods” are disclosed in detail and justified, the presumption of bias is overwhelming. Set against the background of Mann’s record (including the utterly silly recent hurricane hockey stick) it looks pretty bad.

Robinson
October 1, 2009 9:22 am

Oh dear. My first pass at YAD061 and I’m pretty gobsmacked. The entire record comes down to this one tree, more or less. What a revelation! We must go and hug it.

Robert Wood
October 1, 2009 9:23 am

As a repost to Briffa, I quote Briffa:
He offers no justification for excluding the original data

Antonio San
October 1, 2009 9:25 am

Real Climate comes to the defense of their Team member…
“The statement from Keith Briffa clearly describes the background to these studies and categorically refutes McIntyre’s accusations. Does that mean that the existing Yamal chronology is sacrosanct? Not at all – all of the these proxy records are subject to revision with the addition of new (relevant) data and whether the records change significantly as a function of that isn’t going to be clear until it’s done.”
Yet the rest of the post is all about ad hominem
“What is objectionable is the conflation of technical criticism with unsupported, unjustified and unverified accusations of scientific misconduct. Steve McIntyre keeps insisting that he should be treated like a professional. But how professional is it to continue to slander scientists with vague insinuations and spin made-up tales of perfidy out of the whole cloth instead of submitting his work for peer-review? He continues to take absolutely no responsibility for the ridiculous fantasies and exaggerations that his supporters broadcast, apparently being happy to bask in their acclaim rather than correct any of the misrepresentations he has engendered. If he wants to make a change, he has a clear choice; to continue to play Don Quixote for the peanut gallery or to produce something constructive that is actually worthy of publication.”
Nothing about withholding data for almost 10 years… just “There is nothing wrong with people putting together new chronologies of tree rings or testing the robustness of previous results to updated data or new methodologies.”
Updated data? 10 years?… Yeah right.
Thou protest too much realclimate…

PR Guy
October 1, 2009 9:25 am

RE: San Antonio,
I renew my concern that Tom P is a foot soldier in the PR battle, sent in by Real Climate and Fenton Communications, and is not someone seeking the truth.

Tom
October 1, 2009 9:27 am

Briffa casts doubt on McIntyre’s methods but says nothing to explain his own. He used a different statistical method–that does not explain using a subset of the trees. If SM has to explain why he used 34 trees from one site in place of the 10/12 trees from varying sites, Briffa needs to explain why he used 10/12 trees rather than the hundreds that are available covering those multiple sites.

Antonio San
October 1, 2009 9:30 am

Another gem: “Having said that, it does appear that McIntyre did not directly instigate any of the ludicrous extrapolations of his supposed findings highlighted above, though he clearly set the ball rolling. No doubt he has written to the National Review and the Telegraph and Anthony Watts to clarify their mistakes and we’re confident that the corrections will appear any day now…. Oh yes.”
Indeed, the proper way is to do the calculation, submit it to Realclimate, wait for their answer and wait for their answer… another 10 years and meanwhile shhhh, not a word, you enemy of science!

Phil
October 1, 2009 9:30 am

The response wasn’t so much a rebuttal as an indication that a rebuttal will be forthcoming.

October 1, 2009 9:31 am

We have not yet had a chance to explore the details of McIntyre’s analysis or its implication for temperature reconstruction at Yamal…

Then this isn’t really a response to Steve McIntyre’s analysis, but a general response to the fact that his work is under attack.

Antonio San
October 1, 2009 9:31 am

No doubt TomP. is here to confuse the message…

October 1, 2009 9:32 am

One of the questions which Dr. Briffa is NOT answering or even proposing an explantion for is WHY would there be such a marked “outlier” in YAD061.
In fact the general “noise” of the system is so strong, I tend to think of the value for spotting “trends” as “minimal”.
I’m continuously amazed that NONE of these “fine qualified scientists” puts ERROR BOUNDS on their data. That they NEVER do basic statistical analysis to find out their “confidence intervals”.
If I presented this sort of analysis for some of the “Statistical Process Control” work I have done in the past, I would be FIRED, period.
You can’t control to 3 or 6 sigma, if you have no idea what sigma is.

Antonio San
October 1, 2009 9:34 am

The Group Team: “Peer-review is nothing sinister and not part of some global conspiracy, but instead it is the process by which people are forced to match their rhetoric to their actual results. You can’t generally get away with imprecise suggestions that something might matter for the bigger picture without actually showing that it does. It does matter whether something ‘matters’, otherwise you might as well be correcting spelling mistakes for all the impact it will have.
So go on Steve, surprise us.”
As long as the reviewers are part of the Team, there is no problem with the peer review process… LOL

October 1, 2009 9:34 am

It’s hard to make sense of the statement, but it seems he has sidestepped the critical questions.
Does he agree that he made use of some data but not other data?
If so, why?

Frank Stembridge
October 1, 2009 9:35 am

PR Guy
It does not matter who the messenger is.
Keep the focus on the data.
Bring it on.

gianmarco
October 1, 2009 9:35 am

“My colleagues and I are working to develop methods that are capable of expressing robust evidence of climate changes using tree-ring data. We do not select tree-core samples based on comparison with climate data. Chronologies are constructed independently and are subsequently compared with climate data to measure the association and quantify the reliability of using the tree-ring data as a proxy for temperature variations.”
really says it all. in fact, they are looking for a connection temperature-CO2 and using any possible mean to validate it.
i am by no means an expert, but i have read several papers, and i found an interesting concept in a few of them, the “instrumental paradox”.
do instuments agree with ringree in the 20th century? some papers i read say they dont.

October 1, 2009 9:36 am

Leif Svalgaard (09:14:03) :
Although YAD061 looks like an outlier, the other trees do show a rise from ~1820 to today [albeit smaller] so the record [based on those threes] does not look entirely flat to me.
REPLY:[…]There could be hundreds of reasons besides climatic temperature change.

So why the fascination with those trees in the first place? If there can be so many reasons besides climate changes, why get all hot under the collar about something that apparently is a poor indicator?

October 1, 2009 9:40 am

I can tell flannel and stonewalling when I see it. Here in Briffa’s response it is all too clearly demonstrated. Anthony’s follow up questions and observations are right on the money and Briffa should respond without delay.

gianmarco
October 1, 2009 9:41 am

i work in IT and one of the rules of software engineering is to never let the designer test their own code. they will usually design tests that will carefully avoid to find the bugs, and more often than not they do it honestly.
they simply use the same thought process to write the code and to test it. and they wont see the bugs even when in front of massive evidence.
i am not expecting the hockey team to acknowledge errors any time soon. i just hope the MSM and politicians will notice the broken stick. i am not holding my breath though.

jorgekafkazar
October 1, 2009 9:41 am

hunter (09:02:16) : “Where is his explanation for hiding the data for years?”
He could probably come up with something, I’m sure, but this looks really, really bad, given that it comes down mostly to just one tree. He should face the music and withdraw the original paper right now, without further lost time wasted squirming. He has other results to publish. Let’s see them, as soon as possible, instead of a list of excuses, rationalizations, and evasions. Be a mensch, Keith!
“Where is anything beyond a bland dismissal?”
Actually, it’s in there if you read carefully. You might easily miss it. And he provided a nifty bibliography which I wish I’d had two days ago. Be well, Keith.
“And it is clear from the way he frames the issue that they are not interested in seeing what the trees say.”
He certainly implies something close to: We are developing methods to make trees talk. (…and they’ll say what we want them to, and nothing else? That’s called dendrophrenology.)

Sam the Skeptic
October 1, 2009 9:43 am

“My colleagues and I are working to develop methods … robust evidence …”
Anyone who has lived in the UK for the last decade will recognise all the symptoms of Nu-Labour speak in this statement. It’s meaningless and, as CodeTech points out, it assumes its own answer!

Corey
October 1, 2009 9:44 am

My colleagues and I are working to develop methods that are capable of expressing robust evidence of climate changes using tree-ring data

I think he already did that, and look how it turned out.

October 1, 2009 9:46 am

Briffa’s statement is the beginning of the end. And it seems he might not be that ill… BTW, don’t bother to comment on RC; comments are being blocked.
Ecotretas

PR Guy
October 1, 2009 9:46 am

Re: Frank Stembridge
Many in the press (who should know better) do not realize or choose not to recognize that they are being manipulated by PR flacks and that Real Climate is simply a production of a PR firm. My comments are intended for them.
I support your assertion that this audience should continue to focus on the data.

Steinar Midtskogen
October 1, 2009 9:47 am

In my opinion, the hockey stick seems odd not because of the recent temperature increase, during which period we have pretty good direct measurements, but that it shows a remarkable stable climate prior to the 20th century. So if the Yamal tree rings are all about 20th century, how does that change the hockey stick? How does that change the supposedly dead calm climate prior to the modern era?

Bob Koss
October 1, 2009 9:48 am

Briffa is still hiding pertinent information.
“was based on the application of a tree-ring processing method”
No mention of what that method entailed. I suggest the method used was a method that selects based on showing the greatest deviation toward warming.

Jim
October 1, 2009 9:48 am

This is just too humerous to not pass on.
From the discussion at (un)Realclimate:
8
FredB says:
1 October 2009 at 10:13 AM
If you want to cut McIntyre’s feet out from under him then all you have to do is release the raw data and the processing code. Until you do this he will always appear to have a convincing case.
I really can’t see why you don’t undertake this simple and devastating step.
[Response: All of the data and models for any of our recent papers are online and downloadable by anyone. You must have us confused with someone else. – gavin]

P Wilson
October 1, 2009 9:50 am

Sam the Skeptic (09:43:02)
As a UK citizen I can confirm that the RMS Titanic did not sink in 1912. This is because when I was at Brighton I dipped my foot into the sea and didn’t feel a signal, a mast, a portal or anything.
Actually this sort of British reasoning was written up by Bertand Russel in his book “The scientific outlook” where he argued that scientific technique would be sequestrated by the minority to keep the majority in relative ignorance.

Privet Ein
October 1, 2009 9:50 am

Desperate damage control over at RC. I bet not a single objective comment will not make it past the mods today which does not tow their line.
At least people are waking up to their unaccountable practice.

geo
October 1, 2009 9:50 am

Outliers are not a big problem IF the sample size is large enough, but of course here it isn’t. If you’re going to use small samples you really need to trim the outliers off both edges.
Arguing that there was warming in the late 20th century even without the outlier misses the point. I don’t know anyone serious who thinks there was wasn’t warming in the late 20th century. It’s the hockey stick blade “straight for the sky” kind of warming that is being tussled over here.

David Segesta
October 1, 2009 9:51 am

The graphs other than YAD061 do show an upward trend but most of the increase seems to occur before 1925. However most man made emissions of CO2 occurred after 1925.

othercoast
October 1, 2009 9:52 am

Instead of the above “no I didn’t” response, the (anonymous) author of
http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/09/hey-ya-mal/
instead lists a number of graphs (more of less describing them to studies or measurement series) that purportedly show hockeysticks of temperature without being based on the Yamal data [snip]
Generally, the point is sarcastically made that you can get hockeysticks everywhere from all sorts of measurements.
Quite how one of the graphs (which appears to show a hockeystick of radiative forcing and/or CO2 rather than temperature) is supposed to support that argument I don’t understand.
But all the others are small unreadable graphs linking to webpages of larger studies that they’re apparently taken from. I went to a few to see what they’re based on (particularly those where a multi-curve graph dies down to 1 curve by the time the hockey stick starts), but I’m not familiar enough to identify them as actually being based on the Yamal [snip] after all (or not).
Not that it would do much good to post a comment there that picks them apart, but It would be interesting if one of the knowledgeable investigators here could dissect their sarcastic list into Yamal uses, other known hockey-stick bases, and other types (such as those with suspect but unreleased data sources).
[snip]

hmmmm
October 1, 2009 9:54 am

Antonio,
What is the cutoff point for a tree’s age to make it viable (how many years)? and do we have the ages for each of these trees (those that were used in Briffa and those that were discarded)? Please direct me to the location of that information if it is available.
I’m assuming that this is due to the age-correction which seems to be greater at young ages and tends to a constant over time (negative exponential)? I’d love to see how this was determined.
I don’t think the short-lived trees should be discarded though; it’s not just noise in their data. The correction would give them more age-correction error which would make them less effective at being absolute thermometers, but as you know we are looking at the relative changes over years of multiple samples. Although a single short-lived tree might not make a good absolute thermometer, a large collection of short-lived trees over time should still be able to make a good relative thermometer over the years. The age errors should theoretically cancel each other out as sample size increases.
I am no expert though.

MaryAnn
October 1, 2009 9:55 am

Robinson (09:22:49) :
“Oh dear. My first pass at YAD061 and I’m pretty gobsmacked. The entire record comes down to this one tree, more or less. What a revelation! We must go and hug it.”
That made my day. Thanks for the laugh!!!!

Gary
October 1, 2009 9:55 am

OK, regardless of hard feeling about past behaviors, real and imagined to varying degrees on both sides of the argument, let’s be polite and take this as at least a partial effort to engage outstanding and legitimate questions of method and analysis.
Briffa says, “Whether the McIntyre version is any more robust a representation of regional tree growth in Yamal than my original, remains to be established.” Let’s get on with understanding what the trees really can tell us about past climates. Extracting a pound of flesh, as Shylock learned, isn’t without its costs. By all means the debade should be open and rigorous, but this reply has little if any nastiness and ought to be treated fairly.

Chuck L
October 1, 2009 9:59 am

The “team” has rolled out a vast collection of ice core/C02 hockey sticks, borehole hockey sticks, glacier retreat hockey sticks, Had Crut temp hockey sticks, etc. to counter Steve’s outstanding work. Wouldn’t it be interesting to obtain the data behind these other hockey sticks…
Oh wait, they “lost” the Had Crut raw data.

October 1, 2009 9:59 am

I have been following the “tree ring kerfuffle” for the past several days with great interest. While I’m neither a statistician nor mathematician (actually a ME), the one thing I have come to believe is that it doesn’t seem that tree rings are a very reliable proxy for determining past temperatures.
Unfortunately the Hockey Team has already inflicted their stick damage, providing the world’s politicians a stick of their own with which to gain yet more power. Those politicians are not about to give up their quest to utilize that stick to gain even more power.
Dr. Briffa’s stonewalling has given the pols the time needed to secure their position. Only a continuation of the cooling trend we’ve experienced over the past few years will cause folks to begin believing their lyin’ eyes once again. We can be assured there will be no support from the main stream media in reporting on the unscientific methods that have been employed by the Hockey Team.

Jeff
October 1, 2009 10:01 am

“My colleagues and I are working to develop methods that are capable of expressing robust evidence of climate changes using tree-ring data.”
I caught that too. As a scientist, I’m appalled at such a statement. I was reading through a stats book this morning and ran across the following: “Scientists often hope passionately that a particular experimental result will turn out to be statistically significant, so that they can have a paper published in Nature and get promoted, but that doesn’t make it right.” – Michael J. Crawley, Imperial College, London.

Robinson
October 1, 2009 10:01 am

Where is his explanation for hiding the data for years?”

This is not evidence of fraud, it’s evidence of an ivory tower mentality (as we see at RealClimate all too often). It’s Human for someone to want to protect his life’s work, if that’s how he earns his reputation and status. `Protecting it from what?’, is the question. The answers are, (1) competing researchers and (2) criticism.

hmmmm
October 1, 2009 10:01 am

“Leif Svalgaard (09:14:03) :
Although YAD061 looks like an outlier, the other trees do show a rise from ~1820 to today [albeit smaller] so the record [based on those threes] does not look entirely flat to me.
REPLY:[…]There could be hundreds of reasons besides climatic temperature change.
So why the fascination with those trees in the first place? If there can be so many reasons besides climate changes, why get all hot under the collar about something that apparently is a poor indicator?”
Leif,
I’d guess because people want to replicate the damned study and keep getting stonewalled. If all of the details on the study were forthcoming it might be possible to finally show whether it actually stands on its own legs or not. If you don’t believe trees are thermometers and a scientist blindly gives you final numbers saying that they are, you’re going to want to know how they arrived at them, no?

Robert
October 1, 2009 10:02 am

Bless you Dr. Briffa for posting a response. I hope your health improves.

Richard M
October 1, 2009 10:03 am

I read through the RealClimate response. They are very, very worried. You could tell that in their attack on SM. Steve has been very careful in saying we need to get a response from Briffa (it’s the comments that have been harsh). RC in their haste to post something, have made themselves out as complete fools. By attacking Steve they have done the exact thing they are complaining about. This is what people do when they are not thinking very well.

Michael
October 1, 2009 10:03 am

I’m trying to put this whole mess in a nut shell for the sheeple.
So let me see if I get this straight.
Michael Mann’s cherry picked ice core data that produced the infamous hockey stick graph, correlated with Keith Briffa’s cherry picked bristlecone pines tree ring data that confirmed the sharp rise in global temperatures noted on the hockey stick graph, both of which by the way have now been discredited, was the basis for forming public policy decisions that have a grave affect on all of mankind.
Can this statement be improved?

hmmmm
October 1, 2009 10:04 am

Al Pipkin,
As a fellow ME I would also like to assert that I will never use a tree as a thermometer and also wouldn’t recommend it to others.

MikeN
October 1, 2009 10:04 am

Anthony, I told Tom Fuller when he was doing his piece that this isn’t quite the smoking gun it’s been made out to be, and that I don’t think Watts understands it.
I thought I was being too harsh, but you’ve shown that here. Steve has already explained that comparisons to H&S 2002 are invalid.
Try combining the different trees without Yad06, before you make your second claim.
The third claim is valid, and it would be good if him or H&S released the full dataset on their trees, so people can evaluate his methods. Until he does so, this is just speculation.

October 1, 2009 10:05 am

It is painful to read RC. I tried reading http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/09/hey-ya-mal/ but my eyes glazed up…
It isn’t a writing style I like. It is dismissive and childish at the same time.
The gavin name plot is interesting. Just because you can find a “hockey stick” doesn’t mean it is valid to what you are trying to measure.
Perhaps they could learn something from that?

Nylo
October 1, 2009 10:08 am

It is well known that vegetation in general, and that includes trees, grow better with greater CO2 concentrations. Why, when confronted with a hockey stick in the thickness of the rings in a tree, do they suppose that it is a temperature signal? We KNOW that temperature has varied quire remarkably in the past. If the tree doesn’t show that clearly, it is not a good temperature proxy. If it shows a hockey stick, then it MAY BE a good proxy for CO2 concentration instead, as CO2 concentration is supposed to have the shape of a hockey stick. More CO2 = more growth, it is consistent and doesn’t necesarily imply greater temperature.

helvio
October 1, 2009 10:09 am

I would even suggest to define *scientific result*, in any area of knowledge, as the set composed by: DATA obtained according to the scientific method (raw, or processed under peer-monitoring, if raw data cannot be stored – e.g. LHC) + INTERPRETATION based on consistent logical and mathematical arguments (peer-reviewed articles) + ALGORITHMS used to interpret the data. Any scientific result, to deserve that name, should include all of them! If not, it should be regarded by publishers as non-scientific. It should not only be peer-reviewed, but peer-re-reviewable. If interpretation is given without access to the original data that backs it and/or algorithms used to manipulate it, then it is as reliable as the boy who cried wolf. Scientific misconduct would still occur under this definition – the world is not perfect -, but it would definitely truncate it, to a much lower level than the one we experience today.

Sean
October 1, 2009 10:10 am

Dr. Briffa’s sentence, “My colleagues and I are working to develop methods that are capable of expressing robust evidence of climate changes using tree-ring data”. That sound very much like the old example of a drunk who uses a lamp post for support rather than enlightenment. His descriptioin of his own work makes it nothing more than scientific support for a political agenda.

adamskirving
October 1, 2009 10:12 am

“My colleagues and I are working to develop methods that are capable of expressing robust evidence of climate changes using tree-ring data”
Let me help you there Mr Briffa.
1. Design your experiment and analysis prior to gathering data.
2. Control the variables that can be controlled. e.g. Ring cores to be gathered from tree species where the response to temperature is both known, and the current temperature is such that it lies at the midpoint of the up-curve or the down-curve of that species response to temperature variation.
3. Only use trees from virgin forests.
4. Use huge sample sizes, tens and hundreds of thousands, not four or five a given period and location. So that random the noise to signal ratio is reduced.
5. Randomise the selected trees systematically, (hint gather the data from the tree closest to a randomly generated coordinate within suitable forests.
6. Record and publish every step of the process, so that any errors can be spotted by peer reviewers, and those trying to replicate your work post publication.

October 1, 2009 10:13 am

“In 1961, a 27-year-old assistant professor of psychology, Stanley Milgram, wanted to study obedience to authority…” He found that, under pressure from the experimental scientists, 65% would administer electrical shocks they had been told were lethal (although they were not). Milgram was hounded out of Academia for this research – a case of “shoot the messenger” I think. In fact, all participants were debriefed, it seems debriefed perfectly well, and several were positively grateful what they had learned, and changed as a result. From “Opening Skinner’s Box” by Lauren Slater.
The most vulnerable to this kind of behaviour were people who were normally gentle and kind, and just wanted to be liked. Mavericks were far more likely to refuse to participate.
I needed to understand all this, to grasp what had happened when just such an individual, for whom I had had a lot of respect, turned my own life upside-down because I didn’t fit his “authority”. I see the same face in Briffa, both young (here) and current (at Jennifer Marohasy). Trying to please. I feel sorry for the man. But am I right?
I still want the truth out re Climate Science.

John Nicklin
October 1, 2009 10:16 am

As part of Briffa’s defense, he offers 4 citations, three of which he was the lead or sole author. The old political adage that if you say it often enough and loud enough, people will believe it is true seems to be alive and well.
That one dramatic sample in YAD061 would be dramatically reduced if averaged with the other samples, unless it was given more weight.
A thought occured to me that all this paleodendrology only gives an indication of how warm the summers were and no indication of how cold the winters were over the same period. Maybe its not significant.

Michael
October 1, 2009 10:17 am

“I note that McIntyre qualifies the presentation of his version(s) of the chronology by reference to a number of valid points that require further investigation.”
And there’s the admission.

Antonio San
October 1, 2009 10:17 am

Steve McIntyre replies to Briffa:
http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=7257#comments

Steve Fox
October 1, 2009 10:19 am

Leif Svalgaard (09:36:45) :
‘So why the fascination with those trees in the first place? If there can be so many reasons besides climate changes, why get all hot under the collar about something that apparently is a poor indicator?’

Perhaps you should be asking Al Gore, Michael Mann, Alan Hansen et al that question. They are after all the ones who are using the data to force their climate change agenda.

October 1, 2009 10:20 am

What the stations say
http://data.giss.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/gistemp/findstation.py?datatype=gistemp&data_set=1&name=&world_map.x=515&world_map.y=50
no hockeystick in Yamal, check Salehard: 40’s as hot as the 90’s,
local temperature doesn’t match extreme trees.

October 1, 2009 10:24 am

It’s interesting to see the grants Briffa’s involved in:
£106,423: ECOCHANGE- Challenges in assessing and forecasting biodivesity and ecosystem changes in Europe
£125,000: Climate Change – Fellow 1 -modelling of the Earth’s climate
£123,789: Process-based methods in the interpretation of tree-growth/ climate relationships
£121,880: To What Extent Was The Little Ice Age A Result Of A Change In The Thermohaline Circulation?
£226,981: Quantitative applications of high resolution late Holocene proxy data sets: estimating climate sensitivity and thermohaline circulation influences
£3,732: Statistical callibration of Eurasian tree ring records.
£1,000: ARC (Academic Research Collaboration) :Long tree ring chronologies in the Alps.
Taken from http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/research/grants.htm
Grabbed a copy, just in case.
Ecotretas

Mike Bryant
October 1, 2009 10:24 am

Look… I am a plumber… can someone please explain how the tree ring data can override the existing arctic temperature records? It seems to me that this alone puts the lie to the Yamal hockey stick… Like I said… I’m a plumber… what am I missing here??
Mike Bryant

Benjamin P.
October 1, 2009 10:24 am

Briffa just wants Russian grant money, obviously.

savethesharks
October 1, 2009 10:27 am

Leif Svalgaard (09:36:45) : “So why the fascination with those trees in the first place? If there can be so many reasons besides climate changes, why get all hot under the collar about something that apparently is a poor indicator?”
I think you know the obvious answer to that, Leif, is because Briffa et al. work has been the “industry standard” for so much research that reproduce the failed, broken, and discredited hockey stick.
That stick which is still the darling of the IPCC and the Gore-Media-Complex.
What gets many hot under the collar is not the trees or them being a poor indicator. The trees are what they are and they do what they do.
What really grinds the gears, for me, is is that so VERY much research is depending upon these cherry-picked (or should I say larch “cone-picked”) samples as leverage to extrapolate a whole universe of GCM unreality…and propagate that across the scientific “peer-reviewed” political establishment and the media….who then feed it to the populous.
It truly is the tail wagging the dog here…and thanks to folks like McIntyre, Watts, and other whistle-blowers, this is going to stop.
And I can only think it will in the long run benefit you and your research tools and funding…to get Science back where it is supposed to be: the pursuit of truth.
Chris
Norfolk, VA, USA

George S.
October 1, 2009 10:30 am

As a cheering member of the peanut gallery, I wonder how even-handed a “peer” review would be. Seems as though since AGW is settled science, then these peers would have an interest in perpetuating the notion of AGW.
I’m not confident this would play out well for Mr. McIntyre. However, transparency is truly disinfectant. Hopefully, the remainder of Mr. Briffa’s work will become transparent in fewer than another 10 years. Maybe his peers will revisit his work – objectively.

Paddy
October 1, 2009 10:32 am

Assuming that the goal of Briffa, his team, and those criticizing his work, is to produce honest, professional and ethical work, then there is no justification for Briffa or the journals that published work to withhold any data sets, including meta data. All of relevant data should be produced and evaluated before the knife fighting goes any further.

Gary Palmgren
October 1, 2009 10:33 am

“My colleagues and I are working to develop methods that are capable of expressing robust evidence of climate changes using tree-ring data.”
One cannot legitimately change the method of analysis on such noisy data and then release the results showing only the final analysis. The method of analysis has to be defined before the data is analyzed. To change the analysis method after playing with the data allows the analysis method used to be “cherry picked” to achieve the desired result. If one must change the analysis method, then do so, lock the analysis, and then go get new data to see if the result is the same. And, of course, test the new analysis against red noise random number sets.
A common scam in epidemiology is to check a small population for an unusual incidence of hundred of diseases and then only report that a specific disease has a high incidence in this small population. This is exactly what was done with the power line scam. Hundreds of diseases were checked and then only the results for power lines and leukemia were reported because that had a high incidence in the small population used. Faulty conclusion: living near power lines caused leukemia. The same data analysis showed that power lines prevented pancreatic cancer. Both were BS, (bad statistics).
If Briffa wants to present a new analysis of the old data, do not allow him to get away with it. It will not mean anything until the exact same new analysis is used on tree ring data that has not yet been measured. I will not trust any new analysis from Briffa that comes from archived data that he has had a chance to test before disclosing the new analysis method.

Antonio San
October 1, 2009 10:33 am

“Re: #44 Tamino
“Do you really believe that? Do you think, if all data from every study for all time were freely and easily available, that would have stopped McIntyre from useless unfounded FUD? Or even slowed him down?
I don’t.”
My reply:
Perhaps then instead of Steve McIntyre you fulminate about, it would have been a well respected climatology laboratory independently testing the robustness of these proxies the same year the papers were published…

Patrick
October 1, 2009 10:35 am

What is the significance of this statement by Briffa?
“In their work they traditionally applied a data processing method (corridor standardisation) that does not preserve evidence of long timescale growth changes.”

DennisA
October 1, 2009 10:35 am

“My colleagues and I are working to develop methods that are capable of expressing robust evidence of climate changes using tree-ring data”:
This is the classic “interrogating the data until it confesses”.

Michael
October 1, 2009 10:35 am

“I note that McIntyre qualifies the presentation of his version(s) of the chronology by reference to a number of valid points that require further investigation.”
And there’s the admission.

October 1, 2009 10:36 am

Here’s the most relevant sentence from RC’s “rebuttal” of McIntyre:
“People have written theses about how to construct tree ring chronologies in order to avoid end-member effects and preserve as much of the climate signal as possible.”
And what “climate signal” are we looking for? This GavinSentence is about as clear a reference to the cherry picking methods of the hockey stick Team as has ever been written.

Henry chance
October 1, 2009 10:40 am

Mike Bryant (10:24:25) :
Look… I am a plumber… can someone please explain how the tree ring data can override the existing arctic temperature records? It seems to me that this alone puts the lie to the Yamal hockey stick… Like I said… I’m a plumber… what am I missing here??
Mike Bryant
If you tested toilet water would you say all the water in the house is dirty?
The “experiment” is dirty.
In laymans language, his sample size is much too small.
If you run a small sample size, throw out the extreems.
His sample is not random.
Blind studies are much better. Another poster mentioned separation of people by reason of the experimentor should not have acces to the trees or material gathered.
An independent audit is how much of the world works.

Ethan Brand
October 1, 2009 10:41 am

Leif Svalgaard (09:36:45) :
“So why the fascination with those trees in the first place? If there can be so many reasons besides climate changes, why get all hot under the collar about something that apparently is a poor indicator?”
Exactly the point, except that “those trees” are being used to support AGW climate change, where the jist of what I take a way from all of this is that “those trees” aren’t worth bumpkus as a temperature proxy. The real nexus of McIntyre’s work/attention is that anyone with a valid scientific hypothesis should never be afraid of someone else looking at their basic data. All else aside, regardless of the apparent reality of a postulated hypothesis, if a scientist appears unwilling (or is willing) to release their raw data and basic data selection and alaytical methods, it must invariably lead to suspicion of the veracity of their results.

lucklucky
October 1, 2009 10:42 am

So a couple of trees, and it might even be the one is what defined Climate History?
Please someone tell me this is a bad dream i am on.
Any of this farceants, clowns have the gal to call himself scientists?

Stevo
October 1, 2009 10:44 am

What he said was that he didn’t cherry pick; if any cherry picking occurred, it was H&S wot dun it.
“The Yamal tree-ring chronology (see also Briffa and Osborn 2002, Briffa et al. 2008) was based on the application of a tree-ring processing method applied to the same set of composite sub-fossil and living-tree ring-width measurements provided to me by Rashit Hantemirov and Stepan Shiyatov which forms the basis of a chronology they published (Hantemirov and Shiyatov 2002).”
So his claim is basically that he simply reprocessed all the records H&S gave him.
I had understood from Steve McIntyre’s post that this was not so: “while the CRU archive does not appear to be the precisely the same as the unavailable Hantemirov and Shiyatov 2002 archive, it does appear to be related.” However, he also says “It is highly possible and even probable that the CRU selection is derived from a prior selection of old trees described in Hantemirov and Shiyatov 2002 as follows:” and the following quote includes the line “These were the longest and most sensitive series, where sensitivity is measured by the magnitude of interannual variability.” which would therefore be the selection criteria.
Thus, the implication of this is that, yes, they were cherrypicked for “sensitivity”, but that it was Hantemirov and Shiyatov that made the selection, not Briffa. Steve’s criticism is that Briffa should have realised that this made them unsuitable for application of RCS.
So I’d say Briffa has a point. But don’t forget this bit: “I note that McIntyre qualifies the presentation of his version(s) of the chronology by reference to a number of valid points that require further investigation.” I think that counts as acknowledgement that Steve McIntyre might have a point; which is probably as much as could be expected from the team.

Tamara
October 1, 2009 10:46 am

In all of this discussion, it is interesting to me that tree growth as a proxy for climate change automatically equates to a change in temperature. Briffa’s reconstruction becomes a hot button issue under those circumstances. But the climate change that could be relevant to this proxy is the concentration of atmospheric gases. Plants like CO2 – they grow better, they become more drought tolerant, etc. It doesn’t have to be that a herd of reindeer fertilized the trees. It could be that we did. And that might correlate nicely with the apparent growth increase starting in the 1800’s noted by Leif, and takes care of the apparent paradox of older trees experiencing a late stage growth spurt.

Duncan
October 1, 2009 10:49 am

Putting Briffa and Tom P.’s posts together leads me to think you’re missing Briffa’s point, Anthony.
Let me quote from McIntyre’s original post:
“Perhaps the difference between the two versions is related to different aging patterns in the Schweingruber population as compared to the CRU population. The CRU population consists, on average, of older trees than the Schweingruber population. It is highly possible and even probable that the CRU selection is derived from a prior selection of old trees described in Hantemirov and Shiyatov 2002 as follows:
In one approach to constructing a mean chronology, 224 individual series of subfossil larches were selected. These were the longest and most sensitive series, where sensitivity is measured by the magnitude of interannual variability. These data were supplemented by the addition of 17 ring-width series, from 200–400 year old living larches.
The subfossil collection does not have the same bias towards older trees. Perhaps the biased selection of older trees an unintentional bias, when combined with the RCS method. This bias would not have similarly affected the “corridor method” used by Hantemirov and Shiyatov themselves, since this method which did not preserve centennial-scale variability and Hantemirov and Shiyatov would not have been concerned about potential bias introduced by how their cores were selected on a RCS chronology method that they themselves were not using.
Briffa’s own caveats on RCS methodology warn against inhomogeneities, but, notwithstanding these warnings, his initial use of this subset in Briffa 2000 may well have been done without fully thinking through the very limited size and potential unrepresentativeness of the 12 cores. Briffa 2000 presented this chronology in passing and it was never properly published in any journal article.”
Seems to me like Briffa is acknowledging in passing that he intentionally selected longer-lived trees and is defending his choice of exponential normalization, which may cause the most recent tree-rings from the living trees to show an exaggerated warming signal.
I don’t know if there’s some justification for using only longer-lived trees. As McIntyre pointed out, the subfossil larches don’t have the same bias. Maybe any selection of long-lived trees would create an artificial hockey stick.
If the longer-lived trees bias was valid for the living trees, it should have been a valid criterion for the subfossil record. If adding short-lived trees to the recent parts of the record just adds noise and hides the real variability, adding short-lived trees in the subfossil record also adds noise and hides the real variability.
If the longer-lived trees bias was valid, he needed more cores anyway. If he didn’t have enough cores for a good sample, he shouldn’t have published.

October 1, 2009 10:51 am

hmmmm (10:01:51) : and others
I’d guess because people want to replicate the damned study and keep getting stonewalled.
It would seem that the effort should be directed towards the general utility of trees. If it can be shown they are no good [“hundreds of other reasons”], then the various stonewalling etc doesn’t matter anyway.

Robert
October 1, 2009 10:53 am

More fun than Dan Rather’s memos, also I recall, at the start of a hockey season.
Same, same. So convinced they are of their theory, they willingly and uncritically accept any old BS evidence to support it.
The proof of cherry picking may never be had short of a lie detector test, but it is not too soon to compare the memos to the hockey stick and YAD061 – of which Briffa must surely have been aware – and place them both in a special class of evidence.
A class somewhat less reliable than jailhouse snitch testimony.

Katlab
October 1, 2009 10:55 am

Guys, I should be seeing Glenn Beck tonight. He is in my area to promote his book. I will pass this on. I can’t wait to tell him that global warming is caused by one quirky tree.
I mean what do you know. Global Warming is caused by humans, just not the way they said it was.

t-bird
October 1, 2009 10:55 am

To a layman this is a frightening story. That global energy policy could be determined by one guy in a micro-specialty using a nano-view of the world is outrageous. (Of course, it bears similarity to Ancel Keys’ work, too, so I guess it’s not a new phenomenon.)
Funny that global warming is so alarming and so extraordinarily obvious that it only shows up in ONE tree in one grove in remote Siberia.
Please, carry on. The stakes are high.

Jeremy
October 1, 2009 10:56 am

Clearly, reading tree rings is dead.
Dr Briffa et al. may be remembered for single-handedly managing to destroy what little credibility this scientific activity originaly held. I feel sorry for other researchers who are now unlikely to get time of day from anyone for their analyses. The plot of those 10 trees tells me ONE thing – no honest scientist in their right mind would knowingly combine that data and try to pass it off as science in respected journal. Obviously the choice of the indvidual tress in the data set – one tree more or one tree less – will have HUGE impact on the results and Dr. Briffa HAD to have known that. This is NOT science!
I suggest Dr Briffa finds something else to do – reading tea leaves or astrological signs perhaps.

Tim Clark
October 1, 2009 10:58 am

Leif Svalgaard (09:14:03) :
Although YAD061 looks like an outlier, the other trees do show a rise from ~1820 to today [albeit smaller] so the record [based on those threes] does not look entirely flat to me.
REPLY:[…]There could be hundreds of reasons besides climatic temperature change.

But what is the most important? In other words, which factor is more significant in tree ring growth? (Caveat: I can supply (time is at a premium just now) additional papers showing similar responses, it was cherry picked because the authors put it most eloquently.)
Articles
Ecology
Response of tree-ring width to rainfall gradient along the Tianshan Mountains of northwestern China
Sang WeiGuo 1 , Wang YunXia 2, 3, Su HongXin 1 and Lu ZhaoHua 2, 4
(1) Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environment Change, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100093, China
(2) Institute of Restoration Ecology, China University of Mining & Technology in Beijing, Beijing, 100083, China
(3) Mathematics & Physics Unit, Beijing Officers’ School of Armed Forces, Beijing, 100012, China
(4) Binzhou College, Binzhou, 256600, China
Received: 29 May 2007 Accepted: 5 September 2007
Abstract By comparing the long-term tree-ring growths at various geographic scales, we can make clear the effects of environmental variations on tree growth, and get an understanding of the responses of forest ecosystems to the possible changes in global and regional climate. Radial tree-ring growth of Picea schrenkiana and its relationship to air temperature and precipitation were investigated across longitude transects on the north slopes of the Tianshan Mountains in northwestern China. Tree-ring samples were collected and residual chronologies were developed for three different regions along a gradient of decreasing precipitation from west to east. Response-function analysis was conducted to quantify the relationships between tree-ring chronologies and climate variables, such as monthly mean temperature and monthly precipitation from 1961 to 1998, using the PRECON software program. The statistical characteristics of the chronologies showed that the three chronologies constructed in this study contained significant environmental signals and were well suitable to reveal the impacts of climatic change on tree growth and forest productivity. Annual ring-width variations were similar among the three sites, but the variability was greatest in the east. This research showed that the growth trends of Picea schrenkiana in the Tianshan Mountains have not followed a uniform pattern. Response-function analysis indicated that there were significant correlations between tree growth and climatic factors in all the three regions, among which precipitation was the principal. With decreasing precipitation, the response of tree-ring widths to increasing temperature changed from a positive to a negative correlation. As for precipitation, the positive relationship to tree-ring width always dominates. It could be expected that with increased temperature and decreased precipitation, the importance of precipitation to three growth would increase, and the response of tree growth to environmental changes would also increase. This study emphasizes the importance of regional-scale investigations into the biosphere-climate interactions. The results of this research indicated a substantial increment of tree-ring radial growth as a result of warmer and wetter climate in the eastern regions. However, climate change will have less effect on forest growth and primary production in the western regions.
Leif Svalgaard (09:36:45) :
So why the fascination with those trees in the first place? If there can be so many reasons besides climate changes, why get all hot under the collar about something that apparently is a poor indicator?

Leif : Get real. You become most perturbed when people develop inaccurate conclusions from data, and develop associations based on garbage. This is exactly what concerns us (maybe it’s just me) in this matter. These hockey sticks get a lot of attention in the media, and are used by intellectually deficient policy makers to justify taxation. The ignorant masses believe that the conclusions drawn by the authors of this paper indicate that current temps are much higher, which is categorically incorrect according to the station records. I could care less whether it’s slightly warmer globally than X (any date). But the statistical contortions leading to erroneous conclusions drawn from a few scrawny trees really [snip] me off. These people have no concept of any facet of plant physiology.

Sam the Skeptic
October 1, 2009 11:02 am

Gary (09:55:37) :
I agree. Briffa has posted a response (even if one that leaves me still a bit skeptical) and deserves the appropriate courtesy.
Which I have to say is a lot more than any of use would get if we dared express a heretical opinion at RealClimate.
I still think (no pun intended) that we are in danger of not seeing the wood for the trees. As Anthony points out there could a number of reasons why any individual tree suddenly “goes walkabout” and, as Nylo points out, tree growth is as responsive to CO2 as it is to temperature. If any of what Briffa et al are assigning to temperature is actually the result of CO2 then the AGW argument gets blown even further apart and the whole basis for it crumbles to dust.
It seems to me that we are well into Rumsfeld’s “Unknown Unknowns” territory.

UK Sceptic
October 1, 2009 11:04 am

Dr Briffa’s evasion of the salient points suggests that should the fundings plug ever be pulled on CRU (which it deserves to be) he would make a good living as a politician.

October 1, 2009 11:06 am

(…)In his piece, McIntyre replaces a number (12) of these original measurement series with more data (34 series) from a single location (not one of the above) within the Yamal region, at which the trees apparently do not show the same overall growth increase registered in our data (…)
this comment shows that tree rings cannot even account for the regional variability of temperature. Imagine this proxy stretched to represent long-term global temperature trends

Duncan
October 1, 2009 11:09 am

CA is responding again. Like a snail maybe, but at least it’s alive.
McIntyre has a post up with Briffa’s reply and his rebuttal.

Scott A. Mandia
October 1, 2009 11:11 am

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/09/hey-ya-mal/
Here is my comment on that thread:
————————————————————
RC Group,
I am mad at you! (grin)
When this story first broke at CA and WUWT I posted on WUWT that Mann et al. (2008) reproduced the hockey stick with and without tree rings and that all of the data and supporting materials were free to download. I thought that that was pretty clearly the death blow to the CA controversy. Of course, the thing just took off at WUWT.
So, I have spent the past several days and many hours working on a reply that was similar to this thread but, of course, you guys beat me to it and did a much better job than I could ever have done.
I will say that in my brief research, I think boreholes look very promising as perhaps the best temperature proxy.
Huang, S. (2009). Brief introduction to the geothermal approach of climate reconstruction. Retrieved September 20, 2009 from Borehole Temperature and Climate Reconstruction Database: http://www.geo.lsa.umich.edu/climate/approach.html
Huang, S. P., H. N. Pollack, and P.-Y. Shen (2008). A late quaternary climate reconstruction based on borehole heat flux data, borehole temperature data, and the instrumental record, Geophys. Res. Lett., 35, L13703, doi:10.1029/2008GL034187.
Pollock, H. (2005, December). Reconstruction of ground surface temperature history from borehole temperature profiles. Retrieved September 29, 2009, from http://home.badc.rl.ac.uk/mjuckes/mitrie_files/docs/mitrie_borehole.pdf
————————————————————
This whole thing reminds me of the OJ Simpson case where there was massive evidence against him (including the revelation from his own attorneys that he miserably failed two polygraphs) but the case was decided by “If the glove don’t fit, you must acquit” and convincing the jury that hundreds of people conspired to plant evidence at the crime scene and in a hotel room, and then at the lab, etc., etc. etc.
What bothers me the most about this story and appears to be a running theme here at WUWT is that somehow there is this massive conspiracy among scientists to delude the public for no other reason than we do not wish to look wrong. We certainly are not getting rich by taking the pro-AGW position. It is just silly.
Hasn’t anybody here wondered why the hockey stick shape keeps appearing regardless of proxy and study author? Perhaps it is a real phenomenon? To suggest that it isn’t implies that scientists are colluding or that every proxy analysis technique always results in the same shape. If so, then why bother trying to understand the past?

kim
October 1, 2009 11:14 am

I think many people are misinterpreting this very important sentence: “My colleagues and I are working to develop methods that are capable of expressing robust evidence of climate changes using tree-ring data.” I interpret that to be an admission that present methods are not robust, an interpretation shared by Jennifer Marohasy.
I think the source of the misinterpretation has been the illicit change from the use of the term ‘global warming’ to the term ‘climate change’ yet keeping the onus on CO2 as the cause of ‘climate change’ as the alarmists are wont to do. Interpreted more conventionally and literally, all he is saying is that he is trying to capture the true voice of the dendro record, as it sings its duet of growth and temperature.
===========================================

October 1, 2009 11:14 am

To be honest, I’m pretty mad about this. This data and what it represents is one of the fundamental sources of anything and everything global warming.
Every single action that the AGW ivory elites push is based on the hockey stick data. But the most infuriating thing is that these elites solution does nothing but take away from people and give to others (“We are all gonna die!!….But for a small sacrifice by you of only a gazillion dollars, your first born, and say, your right leg, everything will be juuuust fine…”). Any actual solutions proposed can already be done today (wind power, solar cells, electric cars, and so on), which tells us it’s not about those things at all.
These ‘scientists’ (The Group? Who is this self appointed ‘group’, anyway?) are simply determining the best way to research and present data to further their agenda, exemplified the statement:
“My colleagues and I are working to develop methods that are capable of expressing robust evidence of climate changes using tree-ring data.”
One would hope that this was a statement written with little thought – evidence of climate change(s)? This is like saying that we are looking to find ‘robust evidence’ of the moon revolving around the earth. Climate…changes. The Climate Change/Global Warming euphemism is bitch, sometimes.
It seems like the AGW crowd and the self-appointed IPCC are pontificating around a sinking lifeboat, blaming the people actually rowing for their woes.
Gah, it’s just infuriating.

DonK31
October 1, 2009 11:15 am

Leif Svalgaard (10:51:04) :
hmmmm (10:01:51) : and others
I’d guess because people want to replicate the damned study and keep getting stonewalled.
It would seem that the effort should be directed towards the general utility of trees. If it can be shown they are no good [“hundreds of other reasons”], then the various stonewalling etc doesn’t matter anyway.
The problem, to me is that those trees are the justification for trillions in increased taxes and increased control of the people by their “betters” in government.

Bernie
October 1, 2009 11:15 am

I think that we should drop the characterization “cherry picked” and emphasize the need for sample metadata and an explanation of how Briffa (or whomever) selected his 10 or 12 trees from the available pool of trees/cores. I saw the data the same way Lief did: All 10 trees show a warming trend – though YAD06 appears as an outlier in this very small sample. But as I have said elsewhere – without a view of a larger sample one cannot actually say whether YAD06 is an outlier. If the 11th and 12th trees had the same profile as YAD06, then what? I think Steve’s whole argument is that a lack of transparency with respect to data and methods is bad for climate science. Briffa’s Yamal proxy, unfortunately, is a perfect example of poor practice with regards to transparency.

Stacey
October 1, 2009 11:21 am

On an earlier post Al The Brit made a point about exaggerated scales on graphs. This especially occurs on graphs showing temperature anomalies. This is on post, please bear with me as it must be read to the end?
To illustrate my last remark :-
1 The eminent Professor George Manley FRGS produced the Central England temperature graphs from 1650 to 1974.
You need to scroll to Page 14 of the pdf to see the hand drawn graph.
Also it may be of some interest to some on this site where he in effect deals with the urban heat island effect regarding monitoring stations around Oxford. Scroll to Page 2.
2 Now have a look at Hadcruts graph of the temperature anomaly a miracle its a Hockey stick graph?
http://hadobs.metoffice.com/hadcet/
You couldn’t make this up or could you?
It would be nice if you could post the graphs for me?

Stacey
October 1, 2009 11:24 am

Sorry I forgot the link to Professor Manley’s graph?
http://www.rmets.org/pdf/qj74manley.pdf
Pushing my luck I know please could you insert?

LarryOldtimer
October 1, 2009 11:24 am

The concept of tree ring growth as a proxy for temperature is an outright [snip] in and of itself. A tree can grow quite well over a rather wide range of temperatures. It regulates the temperature of its leaves or needles to make up for differences of ambient temperature. Other factors then determine the tree growth.
In radio, there is a little thingy called “signal to noise” ratio. Where ambient temperatures are concerned regarding tree rings, it is all noise and no signal.

Doug in Seattle
October 1, 2009 11:27 am

As a lead author of the IPCC report, Dr. Briffa refused to provide independent reviewers with access to the data upon which he and others were issuing strong statements about the robustness of their conclusion that the warming of the 20th century was unprecedented.
Now that the data has been released and is criticized as being anything but robust, he fesses up and says he and his colleagues are working on making it more robust.
Sorry, I don’t buy it.
I also have a problem with his assertion that he did not pre-select his data – it implies a level of naivety that does not fit with his position as leading expert in his field. Or perhaps I am being naive in assuming that such a renowned expert would be aware of methods which ensure that bias does not contaminate a dataset.

October 1, 2009 11:31 am

“What bothers me the most about this story and appears to be a running theme here at WUWT is that somehow there is this massive conspiracy among scientists ”
I think this is a warmist strawman. It’s not necessary for there to be a conspiracy for “groupthink” to take place.
“We certainly are not getting rich by taking the pro-AGW position. It is just silly.”
I’m not sure who “we” refers to, but certainly Al Gore is getting rich. In any event, nobody can seriously deny that climatologists are receiving enhanced funding, attention, and prestige as a result of concerns over CAGW.
“Hasn’t anybody here wondered why the hockey stick shape keeps appearing regardless of proxy and study author? Perhaps it is a real phenomenon? To suggest that it isn’t implies that scientists are colluding or that every proxy analysis technique always results in the same shape. ”
If I can find you 3 proxy temperature records which do not have hockey-stick shapes, will you concede that you are in the wrong?

Robinson
October 1, 2009 11:34 am

It would seem that the effort should be directed towards the general utility of trees. If it can be shown they are no good [“hundreds of other reasons”], then the various stonewalling etc doesn’t matter anyway.

Well, how do you refute the general utility of trees if you can’t get access to the data and methods used to show that trees do have utility? Can you imagine trying to get a paper published where your reviewers are other dendros, with a lot invested in the technique? It must be very difficult to argue to the contrary and actually get your paper published.

October 1, 2009 11:35 am

Isn’t tree ring growth influenced much more by things other than temperature? Like maybe water? I would bet you take two near identical trees and water one and leave the other to fend for it’s self, the growth differences would be obvious after a few years.
Yep, I did that, and it worked — Watered trees grow faster.
So how can you even consider tree rings as a proxy for temperature without knowing what their entire environment was? Makes no sense.

October 1, 2009 11:35 am

Michael (10:03:34) : I’m trying to put this whole mess in a nut shell for the sheeple. So let me see if I get this straight…
Michael, we are all sheeple to some extent… until we go and investigate for ourselves. Do yourself a favour and read BOTH significant pieces by Bishop Hill, starting with Caspar and the Jesus Paper, to help you get your basics right.

Steven Kopits
October 1, 2009 11:39 am

The trees noted above appear to end measurement in 1990. If so, this is something of a tempest in a teapot. We all know that recent temps were the highest in the 2000’s (until a couple of years ago). Therefore arguing to 1990 doesn’t seem particularly compelling with respect to the current climate.
However, as the data goes, it shows the 1940’s as the highest or equivalent temp in 7 of the 10 samples, against a general background of warming since 1850 (again, not a contested point).

vg
October 1, 2009 11:41 am

Is this not a bombshell? Or admission in fact that they do pick tress to fit the AGW?
from RC now:
In his response to McIntyre, Briffa says that “We do not select tree-core samples based on comparison with climate data”.
However I have read in RealClimate, on a post called “A New Take on an Old Millenium” from February 2006, that “They make use only of those proxy records which demonstrate a statistically significant relationship with modern instrumental temperature records”.
How are these two statements true at the same time?
[Response: Because they are talking about different things? The first is associated with which physical tree cores go into a particular chronology (like Yamal) which are composites of hundreds of trees. They do not pick their trees based on what the eventual chronology will look like. The second statement is with respect to a particular question relating to temperatures at multiple sites during the Medieval Climate Anomaly – what would be the point of looking at rainfall proxies? – gavin]

TJA
October 1, 2009 11:41 am

My colleagues and I are working to develop methods that are capable of expressing robust evidence of climate changes using tree-ring data

I don’t usually post without reading a thread, so somebody else may have jumped on this whopper, but doesn’t he pretty much admit that he knows what he is looking for before he starts? Isn’t this the very attitude that keeps him from understanding the objections to his work? He is so certain of global warming that he doesn’t even allow for the possibility that it isn’t there. He seems to be admitting that he is searching for ‘rhetorical’ graphs that can be used in propaganda pieces to convince us all of the “Global Warming Conjecture” that they seem to believe is proven by other means?

Duncan
October 1, 2009 11:42 am

Scott A. Mandia (11:11:39) ,
in all fairness: O.J. was guilty of the crime, but the police did fabricate evidence because they didn’t have a strong-enough case. What would you want a jury to do, faced with credible evidence that the state had fabricated evidence?
Anyway, I’m not sure in which side you’re referring to in your analogy as the maniacal killer, and which side represents the racist cop.

Jeremy
October 1, 2009 11:42 am

Wow, it’s down to a single tree? This just gets better and better.

Jimmy Haigh
October 1, 2009 11:43 am

Maybe YAD06 is a “lovely old tree” (Fast Show – BBC TV) and a favourite of the locals and one where they choose to sit and sing around the camp fire of an evening?
Seriously though. I planted about a million trees in Scotland about 25 to 30 years ago, probably 50,000 of them larch. They are all different shapes and sizes now – (I went back and looked). How come that happened? – they have all grown up enjoying the same climate.
No one has mentioned tree roots. I would think a pretty big factor on how a tree grows is its root system, after all that’s where they get their nourishment. Count me in as one of the skeptics when it comes to being able to get a global temperature curve out of a few miniscule pieces of wood cores bored from a few trees in some remote part of Siberia. What happens in the winter when it’s 40 below? Do trees still grow at 40 below? So many questions…

TJA
October 1, 2009 11:43 am

“We certainly are not getting rich by taking the pro-AGW position. It is just silly.” OK, hows about you give us the benefit of the doubt, and tell your warmie friends that we aren’t getting rich by taking skeptical positions either? Would that be too much to ask?

Sean Houlihane
October 1, 2009 11:45 am

posted @ rc:
Two parts of this story do not greatly fill me with confidence. Firstly, most of the convincing temperature proxies seem to only go back a few hundred years. The tree ring chronologies are maybe best placed for cross dating things like tree-line advance – but if recent events have taught us anything, the error bars for a tree-ring temperature reconstruction are large. Other long term proxies seem to differ fairly significantly, so all I’d be certain of for the last 2000 years is ‘not much change.’
The second and more contentious issue is that of the recent instrumental record. CET for this year simply didn’t seem above average to me, and various different recent detailed measurement series seem to offer the potential for divergence (although this probably is more of a wait and see problem).

P Wilson
October 1, 2009 11:46 am

Scott A. Mandia (11:11:39) :
Given that borehole data reaches back some 500 years, whereas other reconstructions not necessarily including tree rings date back much further, it doesn’t go back sufficiently to record either the holocene optimum, the Roman warm period, or the MWP.

Stacey
October 1, 2009 11:48 am

@Mike Bryant
“I’m a plumber and I don’t understand this…..”
Sorry couldn’t resist this:-
Hockey Stick Man:
I’m a lumberjack, and I’m okay.
I sleep all night and I work all day.
The Canadian:
He’s a lumberjack and he’s ok
He sleeps all night and works all day
Hockey Stick Man:
I measure rings on the trees
Some I like and some I leaves
I have some friends who measure with me
Some they like and some they leaves.
The Canadian All togeffer noow:
He measures rings on the trees
Some he likes and some he leaves
He has some friends who measure with him
Some they like and some they leaves.
The end (of my career)

Scott A. Mandia
October 1, 2009 11:49 am

@ brazil84 (11:31:48) :
I did not say EVERY reconstruction is a hockey stick. 🙂
BTW, I do not drive a BMW nor do I live in a big house. 🙂
Most of the researchers are just like me regarding demographics. 🙁
REPLY: Not all – check the latest main page story. Too much money flowing around uncontrolled in our government science programs apparently, you’re just on the low end of the totem pole. – A

jlc
October 1, 2009 11:55 am

Leif Svalgaard (09:36:45) :
Leif Svalgaard (09:14:03) :
Although YAD061 looks like an outlier, the other trees do show a rise from ~1820 to today [albeit smaller] so the record [based on those threes] does not look entirely flat to me.
REPLY:[…]There could be hundreds of reasons besides climatic temperature change.
So why the fascination with those trees in the first place? If there can be so many reasons besides climate changes, why get all hot under the collar about something that apparently is a poor indicator?
What an extraordinary and unscientific statement.
What’s your point, Lief?
You got 2 bob each way, do ya?

P Wilson
October 1, 2009 11:56 am

addendum to last post.
Here’s loehle’s reconstruction based on non treering data
http://tinyurl.com/y8sn45r

Tim Clark
October 1, 2009 11:56 am

Scott A. Mandia (11:11:39) :
Hasn’t anybody here wondered why the hockey stick shape keeps appearing regardless of proxy and study author?

See Tim Clark (10:58:14) :
Not at all. Only why it’s always correlated to temperature. Warmer temps mean greater precipitation. Google again.

MikeN
October 1, 2009 11:59 am

>What is the significance of this statement by Briffa?
“In their work they traditionally applied a data processing method (corridor standardisation) that does not preserve evidence of long timescale growth changes.”
Patrick, it means that the two papers results are not comparable.
The other method that Briffa refers to is not good at comparing temperatures across centuries. They were instead looking for short term changes in temperature. I think the different methods may have led to Briffa getting bad results for his method, as they did all the data collection to suit their methods.
This is why this data should be made public, so that it can be evaluated.

kim
October 1, 2009 12:00 pm

Scott Mandia 11:11:39
Man, Scott, didya notice I gave you a big clue at the Examiner, that this is not a conspiracy, but a ‘Popular Delusion and a Madness of the Crowd’?
======================================

Claude Harvey
October 1, 2009 12:01 pm

I believe we’ve discovered an answer to the ancient question, “Does a bear crap in the woods?”
Ans: “Right at the base of YADO61!”

Bill Sticker
October 1, 2009 12:01 pm

Briffa wrote;
“I do not believe that McIntyre’s preliminary post provides sufficient evidence to doubt the reality of unusually high summer temperatures in the last decades of the 20th century.”
My own response;
Erm, so the 20th century temperature highs recorded in the mid to late 1930’s didn’t happen then? Put in historical context there appears nothing unusual enough in the late 20th century temperature record to justify the postulation of runaway global temperature rise.

October 1, 2009 12:02 pm

“I did not say EVERY reconstruction is a hockey stick. :)”
You pretty much implied it when you claimed that “the hockey stick shape keeps appearing regardless of proxy and study author”
The fact is that the hockey stick DOES NOT keep appearing regardless of proxies and study authors.
“BTW, I do not drive a BMW nor do I live in a big house. 🙂
Most of the researchers are just like me regarding demographics”
Again you are attacking a strawman. The fact is that climatologists are receiving enhanced funding, attention, and prestige as a result of concerns over CAGW. This is true even if they are not getting fancy cars or big houses.

jlc
October 1, 2009 12:09 pm

£106,423: ECOCHANGE- Challenges in assessing and forecasting biodivesity and ecosystem changes in Europe
£125,000: Climate Change – Fellow 1 -modelling of the Earth’s climate
£123,789: Process-based methods in the interpretation of tree-growth/ climate relationships
£121,880: To What Extent Was The Little Ice Age A Result Of A Change In The Thermohaline Circulation?
£226,981: Quantitative applications of high resolution late Holocene proxy data sets: estimating climate sensitivity and thermohaline
Wow – over a million bucks for nonsense “research”.
“BIG OIL” is not paying me nearly enough!

kim
October 1, 2009 12:09 pm

brazil84 11:31:48.
You think warmist strawman, and I think projection. Hey, we’re both right.
brazil16, too, for the symmetry. er, summitry.
========

October 1, 2009 12:09 pm

Tim Clark (10:58:14) :
But the statistical contortions leading to erroneous conclusions drawn from a few scrawny trees really [snip] me off. These people have no concept of any facet of plant physiology.
And that is my point. One can lament the cherry picking and the sloppy stats [can find some of that on both sides of the fence], but the public will see that as bickering rather than science. To make a scientific point one has to attack the base of it all: that assumption that tree-rings are a good proxy for temperatures.
DonK31 (11:15:09) :
The problem, to me is that those trees are the justification for trillions in increased taxes and increased control of the people by their “betters” in government.
And that is even more reason for doing the ‘attack’ right.
Bernie (11:15:49) :
I saw the data the same way Leif did: All 10 trees show a warming trend – though YAD06 appears as an outlier in this very small sample. […] I think Steve’s whole argument is that a lack of transparency with respect to data and methods is bad for climate science.
Transparency is a must, but if it is true that tree-rings are a lousy proxy then transparency doesn’t matter. I can photograph the tea-leaves I use for sunspot prediction and produce the photograph for all to see and even send in the leaves to an independent lab for verification that these are genuine tea-leaves.
The ‘attack’ must [also, and primarily] be on whether trees are any good for this.

Bob Kutz
October 1, 2009 12:10 pm

Really interesting;
Yamal peninsula is really quite near the location where the ‘Tsar Bomba’ was detonated on October 30, 1961. Some 450 km (and maybe 1000 km at it’s farthest point) from the Yamal Peninsula, Novaya Zemlya was the sight of what has been described as the “most physically powerful device ever utilized throughout the history of humanity” (Wiki). The bomb was detonated at a height of 4 km, creating a fireball some 8 km in diameter. It is stated that some 5.25 x10^24 watts (yottawatts) of energy were released, a figure equivalent to more than 1% of the sun’s power output.
At a distance of some 500+km, the radiation would’ve been largely (though not entirely) dissipated, but significant fallout as well as physical effects would’ve reached Yamal, especially on hills with an easterly exposure. Above ground testing at the site began in 1954, ended prior to the test ban treaty in 1963, although subsequent underground testing took place at the site. Seismic activity attributed to this underground testing set off an avalanche which blocked a stream, creating a lake 2 km long.
Now, I’m not saying that Tsar Bomba created mutant growth trees, hell I’m not 100% certain whether the trees being looked at were on the Yamal Pen., or if they were in Yamalia, a bit futher away. What I would say is that if these trees were on the Yamal Pen., they certainly felt the effects of this if not many more bombs. The effects were felt as far away as Helsinki. Flash heat could’ve created glacial pools, or otherwise created an improved water supply, there could’ve been other ecological effects as well. This could’ve been the most unique ‘UHI’ ever to effect the surface T record.
To that end, why did this one tree take off about the same time the above ground testing started? Is there ‘meta-data’ on the actual tree? Grid coordinates, elev. and facing, exposure data, etc.?
Just a wild hare when I realized where this Yamal Peninsula really is, knowing full well where Novaya Zemlya was.
Curious.

October 1, 2009 12:11 pm

jlc (11:55:11) :
What’s your point, Leif?
See my comment (12:09:52)

Michael
October 1, 2009 12:12 pm

“Lucy Skywalker (11:35:30) :
Michael (10:03:34) : I’m trying to put this whole mess in a nut shell for the sheeple. So let me see if I get this straight…
Michael, we are all sheeple to some extent… until we go and investigate for ourselves.”
Lucy,
I admit I am a sheeple on many issues, that’s why I stand open to be corrected with the facts presented to me. That’s also why I believe nothing I read and half of what I see without much thought and scrutiny. I’m a slow reader for a reason.

jlc
October 1, 2009 12:13 pm

Leif Svalgaard (10:51:04) :
hmmmm (10:01:51) : and others
I’d guess because people want to replicate the damned study and keep getting stonewalled.
It would seem that the effort should be directed towards the general utility of trees. If it can be shown they are no good [“hundreds of other reasons”], then the various stonewalling etc doesn’t matter anyway
OK, Leif – I see your point and I apologize.
Sometimes you’re a bit too subtle for me.

kim
October 1, 2009 12:13 pm

jlc 11:55:11
Heh, I’ll bet Leif understands the significance of all this. He’s got two bob both ways because his neutral status insists upon it. It would not be consistent to bet otherwise.
====================

Bob Kutz
October 1, 2009 12:14 pm

(and yes, I was being intentionally obtuse with regard to the use of the term ‘meta-data’, so go ahead and consider me crazy, and even simple, but at least recognize my wry wit rather than assume ignorance)

mbabbitt
October 1, 2009 12:19 pm

Here we see the artful application BS using science laden language. BS should be the call letters of our times. The news today should shout when BS is not used to explain “fill in the blank.” Lots of verbiage but no key question addressed. What a genius.

October 1, 2009 12:20 pm

“You think warmist strawman, and I think projection. Hey, we’re both right.”
I’m not sure what your point is. For the most part, deniers such as myself DO NOT claim that there is a conspiracy among climate researchers. And DO NOT claim that climate researchers are getting rich from concern over global warming.
So what’s there to project?

P Wilson
October 1, 2009 12:22 pm

rain tends to bring the temperature down and during long hot summers, aridity can cause a drought problem. Saying that higher temps correlates to temperature is quite a simplification. Tree growth responds very well to c02 on the other hand. The most important factors to tree ring growth are nutrients, c02, temperature, competition, and water. If you have high atmospheric c02 and plenty of water with moderate/average temperature, then you have greater tree growth than high temperature, low c02, (which is what the pre-industrial average is supposed to be) and drought/aridity

JamesG
October 1, 2009 12:24 pm

Gavin trots out the line about peer-review despite having ridiculed the peer review process in a very recent post because something was published that he didn’t like. Always the double standards. At least peer review of Steve’s work is actually possible whether published or not. It wasn’t possible with Briffa’s work.
And Leif, the tree-based hockey stick is only important because it keeps being trotted out in IPCC impacts or FAQ publications to scare the public: Not the newer HS by Mann with the MWP, nor the spaghetti graph HS of the main IPCC reports. It’s always that utterly discredited MBH98 they use again and again. Gavin even drags up in his latest post, despite it being superceded by Mann’s own latest work. If they’d just disown it then we could all move on.
Just started reading “The farce of Physics”: A good reminder that climate science isn’t exactly alone with this poor behavior. In fact they are highly representative of mainstream scientific practice.

P Wilson
October 1, 2009 12:24 pm

addendum mistake: “Saying that high temperatures correlates greater precipitation”

October 1, 2009 12:25 pm

My opinion of Briffa’s rebuttal – http://www.di2.nu/200910/01a.htm – not too disimila methinks

October 1, 2009 12:25 pm

jlc (12:13:23) :
OK, Leif – I see your point and I apologize.
Sometimes you’re a bit too subtle for me.

Perhaps just a bit less emotional about it [since we are not on the topics of barycenters and non-cosmological redshifts 🙂 ]

P Wilson
October 1, 2009 12:26 pm

addendum: mistake. should read: saying that greater temperatures means greater precipitation

Tilo
October 1, 2009 12:28 pm

Leif:
“Although YAD061 looks like an outlier, the other trees do show a rise from ~1820 to today [albeit smaller] so the record [based on those threes] does not look entirely flat to me.”
I think that we would all accept a result that showed a small rise. It’s the sharp rise that results from the methodolgy and the one tree that are the issue.
Leif, if you are still here, I’m dying to get your take on the Svensmark cosmic ray theory. Pretty please with sugar on it!

Tilo
October 1, 2009 12:37 pm

Leif:
“Transparency is a must, but if it is true that tree-rings are a lousy proxy then transparency doesn’t matter. ”
Completely agree. Briffa’s own notes on the divergence problem of the second half of the twentieth century are an indication that he knows also. What I don’t understand is why he thinks that the problem is only limited to the second half of the twentieth century and only to the northern hemisphere. My guess is that that kind of divergence can happen anywhere at any time.
Then there is the question of the other proxies. It seems like the tree rings have recieved the most scrutiny. Can the proxies that have not recieved that level of scrutiny be trusted?

hmmmm
October 1, 2009 12:37 pm

Leif,
the raw data and processing would greatly help in showing whether it is viable or not, wouldn’t it?

hmmmm
October 1, 2009 12:41 pm

Leif,
Big picture I do agree with you. But I do see this as useful to that endpoint.

jlc
October 1, 2009 12:47 pm

I have been designing and building dams for more than 40 years, so I have an obsessive understanding of recent “climate”:
I am an engineer, like many CA and WUWT readers. Most engineers, look for proof, justification, evidence, logic, common sense, etc. As Steve Mc says, this is the engineering method
If I understand Lief correctly, he is saying that treemometry is nonsense. I think you would be very hard pressed to find an engineer who who would believe that there is anything but a very coarse link between tree ring thickness and temperature.
The reason I take the time to comment on this is that so many people (even engineers) accept at face value the publicised claims based on very tenuous science.
In general, engineers are the most honest and cautious members of any society.
We have an obligation to keep ourselves informed and to speak our minds

paulo arruda
October 1, 2009 12:47 pm

Step one: denial
Step Two: Anger
Step three: negotiation
Step Four: Depression
Step Five: Acceptance
The AGW `s are in the second step …
have to give time to them …

Bernie
October 1, 2009 12:48 pm

Leif:
We seem to agree, but given that the going in assumption is that old tree rings are acceptable as temperature proxies isn’t transparency needed in order to determine the validity of pre-instrumental trees as thermometers? The measurement issue is their value in estimating trees before thermometers relative to other proxies.

Bob Kutz
October 1, 2009 12:53 pm

Leif Svalgaard (09:14:03) :
Although YAD061 looks like an outlier, the other trees do show a rise from ~1820 to today [albeit smaller] so the record [based on those threes] does not look entirely flat to me.
Leif; while I agree that over the full period, all of the trees show an increase. However, 4 of them show a peak temp prior to 1950, while three of the remaining show peak temp prior to 1970. Further, over the last 50 years, very little actual trend can be inferred from any of them; even the most extreme example demonstrates that it was warmer at the beginning of the period than it was in 1990, and didn’t get significantly warmer during the interim.
Further, only one of the ten shows temperatures at 1990 were above the highest temp from 1900 to 1950. Only six of the ten show temps at 1990 above all temps prior to 1900, a period that concluded what is commonly regarded as the little ice age.
If we’re not arguing about AGW as caused by CO2 emissions, if this is only climate change we’re discussing, then the whole debate needs to end, so it can begin anew, without an agenda, and without a predetermined root cause, and without the fascist power grab that is IPCC, without cap & trade, and without the impending EPA and state regulation of what is, after all, the life breath of plants, and the normal and very natural byproduct of animal life.

Peter
October 1, 2009 1:00 pm

I do not believe that McIntyre’s preliminary post provides sufficient evidence to doubt the reality of unusually high summer temperatures in the last decades of the 20th century.

Whatever effect a CO2 increase has on temperature, it’s most significant during winter and in the coldest places on earth. At other times, and in other places, the amount of energy absorbed by CO2 is not only small compared with the total energy flux, but is also swamped by water vapor.
So I ask you, Prof Briffa, why summer temperatures?

October 1, 2009 1:01 pm

The frustration dripping from the RC rebuttal is funny. If they were so sure it’s “irrelevant” they wouldn’t have to resort to putting up a lot of uncorrelated pictures. Apparently there are so few usable graphs that even a graph showing CO2 over last thousands of years is needed to discuss the hockey stick that is supposedly present in temperature the last few decades …
The hockey stick is a marketing ploy. It helps people believe they are responsible themselves. You can try to stretch the dramatic rise as much as you want eventually it either needs to be really noticeable or people will drop the faith. It’s like how several religions predict the end of the world, you can “delay” it a few times but it soon becomes rather obvious that it’s not gonna happen.

Peter Plail
October 1, 2009 1:09 pm

Mike Bryant – I’m with you all the way and would value an explanation of why proxies are used for recent times.
I understand why temperature proxies are of value when looking at the past before real measurements were available, but what is the reason for using temperature proxies for the last couple of decades when the real thing exists.
OK, we have had many discussions here about the possible inaccuracies of modern temperature measurement, but surely they are likely to be more accurate, almost by definition, than proxies, since I assume that at some point in time actual temperature measurements are used to attempt to”calibrate” tree ring data.
And why choose trees in Siberia? Has Siberia become a proxy for the whole world.
Wikipedia says about reconstructing a temperature record of the last 1000 years ” A reconstruction is needed because a reliable surface temperature record exists only since about 1850. ” So what possible justification can there be for using proxies after this date.
Forgive me if this is too simplistic but my brain is hurting.
It seems to me that, at the moment, the entire edifice of US and European environmental and economic policy if balanced precariously on a few Siberian treestumps.

Mick
October 1, 2009 1:13 pm

I know the ‘hockey stick’ issue is important……but I can’t help thinking it might have been better if the tree-ring research had been carried out on cherry trees somewhere in Surrey…..at least then, ‘cherry-picking’ would have been an acceptable part of the investigation…even expected! With the added bonus of an abundance of hockey sticks in the local vicinity.

Skeptic Tank
October 1, 2009 1:13 pm

“My colleagues and I are working to develop methods that are capable of expressing robust evidence of climate changes using tree-ring data.”

Oops.

Antonio San
October 1, 2009 1:18 pm

One key element here is that Dr. Briffa did not archive the data for 9 years until he was cornered to. Why? Once archived for all to see, the limitation of the data (picked by the Russians, small subset etc…) would have become readily apparent, not only to their “nemesis” but most importantly to ANY OTHER Paleoclimatology research group. Therefore the focus of RC reply on McIntyre is indeed misplaced imo.

Jim
October 1, 2009 1:19 pm

****************
Bob Kutz (12:10:47) :
Yamal peninsula is really quite near the location where the ‘Tsar Bomba’ was detonated on October 30, 1961.
*****************
Hmmm … it seems there would be some sort of isotopic signature in the rings.

Tilo
October 1, 2009 1:20 pm

As you all know by now, the crew at Real Climate are in a rage. But Gavin posted a response to Steve McIntyre and in the comments section he made the comment that everyone was getting all of the data that they needed. So in response to his comment I submitted this comment.
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/__VkzVMn3cHA/SsUMIzGbPXI/AAAAAAAAAFI/3o4j7swEoDA/s1600-h/Briffa_Yamal_RC_screen3.JPG
And, of course, as everyone might guess, Gavin censored the comment – as he always does when he has no answer for something or when he finds it embarrasing and inconvinient.

rbateman
October 1, 2009 1:21 pm

Bob Kutz (12:10:47) :
Very interesting, and it’s yield was sustained for 30 seconds.
What were the other trees around YAD061 like? New trees, dying trees, diseased trees, burned trees, logged trees , etc?
A tree in a grove that suddenly has access to the the majority of the resources can take off.

October 1, 2009 1:24 pm

jlc (12:47:02) :
If I understand Leif correctly, he is saying that treemometry is nonsense. I think you would be very hard pressed to find an engineer who who would believe that there is anything but a very coarse link between tree ring thickness and temperature.
Perhaps I would be a tad gentler [although not my strong side] and say that the link is not understood [rather than ‘nonsense’] and that it therefore must be used with utter reserve and caution, and that research on its potential usefulness is important. However it is used, there must, of course, be transparency and disclosure.

Ken Hall
October 1, 2009 1:25 pm

I am guessing that he is hiding behind the “not yet published” data because they have not managed to discover any more magic trees yet.
“My science is robust dammit and as soon as I find another 10 trees that back up my religion, I will publish!!!”
He asks why did McIntyre remove those 10 trees?
WHY? well that rates a deserved “well DUH!”
How arrogant and indifferent to your fraud do you have to be to not realise that he did not publish them because they are NOT a representative sample and they falsely skew the results of the temperature record. They are anomalous. They are a fix. They are a CON!
I was waiting for a serious and substantive rebuttal. I should have known better.
Carbon induced climate catastrophe is a serious fraud. Let us all stop wasting incredibly precious time, money and energy attacking the production of an essential trace gas that is necessary for life to flourish, and start, finally, to get a solution to the real and serious environmental catastrophes in deforestation, habitat destruction and wanton chemical pollution. We need to clean up the “trash island” in the Pacific. We need to stop hunting and fishing species to extinction and we need to stop cutting down huge tracts of ancient historic and irreplaceable forests.
It is sickeningly perverse that the Urang-utang is on the very cusp of extinction because climate alarmists and environmentalists have boosted the demand for bio-oils that are planted where these magnificent animals used to have a habitat. It is gut wrenchingly hypocritical of them and I am incensed to a level of frustrated fury every time I think of it. How DARE they lecture and legislate and waste billions of dollars pushing a lie, when the environment is being raped in so many places? Often BY THEM!
Environmentalists are some of the worst environmental vandals in the world and they are desperate to keep us distracted with the fraud, the rubbish that is carbon alarmism.
We should have NONE of it!
Go sick ’em Anthony and Steve. Sick ’em good and proper!

UK John
October 1, 2009 1:28 pm

Nice hair style Keith, like it!

October 1, 2009 1:29 pm

Bob Kutz (12:53:04) :
Leif; while I agree that over the full period, all of the trees show an increase. However, 4 of them show a peak temp prior to 1950
which was a warm period,1930-40s…, so in that respect the proxy doesn’t look that bad…

rbateman
October 1, 2009 1:30 pm

Peter Plail (13:09:14) :
As much of the tree ring data I have looked at where there is a record back 2000 years, what shows most is the precipitation, and the temp is inferred from there (uncertainty rises).
Comparing such record to the instrumental data, one comes away with the impression that tree ring is generalized for precipitation, and over very long timespans give a rough impression of temperature.
What stands out in tree ring data are the exceptional years, like deluges and hard droughts, and they line up nicely with instrumental.
As for eras, long periods such as LIA and MWP, RWP are in evidence.

Joseph Murphy
October 1, 2009 1:34 pm

Scientist are getting good at sounding like politicians. To bad I seek out science to take a break from politics.

Tilo
October 1, 2009 1:36 pm

“And why choose trees in Siberia? Has Siberia become a proxy for the whole world.”
I think that choice is defensible. Harsh conditions (high altitude, far north) are good for producing old trees. Sparser trees, less fire, less diseases, less parasites. Also, when you use fossile trees from near the tree line and on south flowing streams, you have less chance of having a tree wash in from another location.

michael
October 1, 2009 1:38 pm

Dr Briffa says,
“He offers no justification for excluding the original data”
This is desperation. I strongly suspect Briffa knows that the original data was excluded because it was the basis of several of his publications claiming to show a hockeystick effect and excluding it is a reasonable way to determine if he may have cherry picked data in such a way as to create a hockeystick. His response is bluster.

imapopulist
October 1, 2009 1:42 pm

“My colleagues and I are working to develop methods that are capable of expressing robust evidence of climate changes using tree-ring data.”
Did he really mean to say this?
Would others in this field of science agree that this is an appropriate objective?
Am I living on an alternate planet where logic and reasoning is distorted beyond my comprehension?

NC
October 1, 2009 1:44 pm

This may be off topic but the Chinese must be laughing their heads off, and, shaking their collective heads in utter disbelief as the free world unravels over the readings of basically one tree. Here they carry most of the States dept, are on the verge to put man on the moon, are fast becoming the worlds number one super power while the free world may go into a financial death spiral chasing tap and trade and green energy.
North America could be energy self sufficient, but blocked by an unproven science, just amazing!

October 1, 2009 1:52 pm

Leif Svalgaard (10:51:04) :
hmmmm (10:01:51) : and others
I’d guess because people want to replicate the damned study and keep getting stonewalled.
It would seem that the effort should be directed towards the general utility of trees. If it can be shown they are no good [“hundreds of other reasons”], then the various stonewalling etc doesn’t matter anyway.

The STonewalling does matter because it is the modus operandi of a clique which seeks to advance it’s cause and ‘move on’ before it’s suspect data practices are discovered. Having moved on they can tell us ‘it doesn’t matter’. Thus we are led in a Gish Gallop towards the final destination – the self policed parade of carbon sinners in atonement.
However, I agree that showing that allegedly good treemometers are a rare species which don’t tell us anything beyond the coincidence of their growth pattern and the instrumental record would be a good move.

October 1, 2009 1:56 pm

More Yamal tree ring temperature data: this data is flat as roadkill
After that post I’d be very fairly certain that whatever tree growth rings measure, it isn’t temperature. Certainly not without being confounded by other variables.
I only ever met one tree growth ring expert and that was back in 1976 or 77. He was using them as a proxy for rainfall. The issue under discussion was the Boulder dam which was justified on 40 years’ worth of data. After the dam was complete the quantity of water has never since matched the prediction. His tree growth rings showed that the 40 years were the wettest in the last 400 in the catchment.

Peter Plail
October 1, 2009 1:57 pm

Tilo (13:20:19) :
Thanks for your screen grab of your comment.
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/__VkzVMn3cHA/SsUMIzGbPXI/AAAAAAAAAFI/3o4j7swEoDA/s1600-h/Briffa_Yamal_RC_screen3.JPG
The real beauty of that is not the reasonableness of your contribution which failed moderation, but the example of the spittle-flecked ranting which appears in the post above which apparently was quite acceptable to the moderator.
It serves to remind me why I don’t visit RC. I have come to the conclusion that it’s sole purpose is as a therapeutic aid for people with personality disorders.

dbleader61
October 1, 2009 1:57 pm

RE: brazil84 in two separte posts
(Re the assertion by AGWers that Denialists think it is a conspiracy) “I think this is a warmist strawman. It’s not necessary for there to be a conspiracy for “groupthink” to take place…For the most part, deniers such as myself DO NOT claim that there is a conspiracy among climate researchers. And DO NOT claim that climate researchers are getting rich from concern over global warming.”
My thoughts exactly. Well said sir/madam. AGW is a groupthink catastrophe.

Dave Andrews
October 1, 2009 2:02 pm

10 years on Dr Briffa says he and his colleagues are working to improve the robustness of the results showing that tree ring data reflects climate change!
So where were the caveats in the original paper and why were its results allowed to be used in subsequent papers also without caveats?
Seems there is something other than ‘science; in operation here.

Jimmy Haigh
October 1, 2009 2:05 pm

Dave Andrews (14:02:03) :
“10 years on Dr Briffa says he and his colleagues are working to improve the robustness of the results showing that tree ring data reflects climate change!

And he is also admitting that the ‘science’ is not yet settled!

Barry Foster
October 1, 2009 2:07 pm

Peter Plail. Couln’t agree more about RC. I thought just the same about the mindset of both the people who run it, and many of the contributors when I contributed once. There was one, dghoza, or somesuch, who posted some very odd comments. Schmidt also had some very strange reactions to things. I came away thinking it was a peculiar place to be. I can imagine what they’re like in real life. God, the internet seems to attract them! I suppose we should be thankful these people aren’t walking the streets at night.

Mike M.
October 1, 2009 2:11 pm

Scott Mandia beclowns himself by using an official AGW talking point issued a few months back. “You think there is a huge conspiracy amongst climate scientists. That’s crazy, so you and all of you other deniers are crazy!” Read the fine print on the label, Scott, that smear is to be used on the converted or the apathetic, not a crowd of educated and motivated Deniers.
I’ll tell you what’s crazy. Crazy is not expecting anyone like Anthony Watts or Steve McIntyre to appear when you started down this road. Crazy is thinking that you have made a strong enough scientific case to cause western democracies to cripple their economies with trillions of dollars in taxes. Crazy is thinking that the never ending arrogance and contempt shown towards us by the likes of The Team, Tamino, Romm and the rest of you haters would actually help to Save the World.

October 1, 2009 2:13 pm

“And, of course, as everyone might guess, Gavin censored the comment – as he always does when he has no answer for something or when he finds it embarrasing and inconvinient.”
For what it’s worth, I liked your comment Tilo. And I too have made civil, relevant comments on RC and similar blogs which were deleted or edited to distort my point.
I don’t bother commenting on those sorts of blogs anymore. But it’s fascinating how folks like Gavin, who think they are scientists, have wandered so far away from science.
My opinion only.

Tim Clark
October 1, 2009 2:19 pm

P Wilson (12:22:36) :
The most important factors to tree ring growth are nutrients, c02, temperature, competition, and water.

But not in that order, you have the dominant one last.

October 1, 2009 2:24 pm

I’m lost.
I’ve been trying to follow the logic of the tree-ring based hockey stick but it doesn’t make sense and I see that some other commenters are confused as well.
Briffa’s yamal analysis seems to show an approximately 1.5C increase in temperature during the 20th century. Did actual thermometers also show a 1.5C increase during that time period for that region (at least during the summer)? If yes, then what does it matter what trees were used during that period – it matches so you get the same result whether you use tree rings or thermometers. If no, then doesn’t that reject using either those trees or those analysis techniques or both? In which case why would such a paper even be published? And if it rejects using those analysis techniques, wouldn’t that reject the entire chronology?
Why does tree-ring based temperatures having any use in the 20th century except as a sanity check on whether or not trees can ever predict temperature?
I can’t imagine why this seems like a big deal to everybody (both sides). It makes no sense to me.

jlc
October 1, 2009 2:24 pm

“jlc (12:47:02) :
If I understand Leif correctly, he is saying that treemometry is nonsense. I think you would be very hard pressed to find an engineer who who would believe that there is anything but a very coarse link between tree ring thickness and temperature.
Perhaps I would be a tad gentler [although not my strong side] and say that the link is not understood [rather than ‘nonsense’] and that it therefore must be used with utter reserve and caution, and that research on its potential usefulness is important. However it is used, there must, of course, be transparency and disclosure”
Quite right, Lief.

Tim S.
October 1, 2009 2:27 pm

“My colleagues and I are working to develop methods that are capable of expressing robust evidence of climate changes using tree-ring data.” – Briffa
“Did he really mean to say this?” – imapopulist (13:42:37)
Ah, but don’t forget that since the recasting of “global warming” to “climate change” Briffa’s statement above is okay. He could simply be measuring natural climate change versus man-made. But I think we all know where the CO2 blame will end up, anyway.

Jeremy
October 1, 2009 2:34 pm

@ Scott A. Mandia…
“Hasn’t anybody here wondered why the hockey stick shape keeps appearing regardless of proxy and study author? Perhaps it is a real phenomenon? To suggest that it isn’t implies that scientists are colluding or that every proxy analysis technique always results in the same shape. ”
This is classic group-think. NASA said something very similar about foam-impacts on the space shuttle. A paraphrase might go something like this, “Hasn’t anyone here ever wondered why we’ve never lost a shuttle despite all the evidence of ice/foam strikes on the shuttle? Perhaps it is not something to worry about? To suggest that it is something to worry about implies that scientists and engineers are colluding…” Of course, we know how that turned out. Unchecked Group-think in that case led to death for 7 humans.
So please restrain yourself; bite your tongue; pinch your ear whenever you find yourself suggesting that we should stop questioning data. Doing otherwise is contributing to a perversion of science that leads to problems.

Al Gore's Holy Hologram
October 1, 2009 2:42 pm

” Crazy is not expecting anyone like Anthony Watts or Steve McIntyre to appear when you started down this road. Crazy is thinking that you have made a strong enough scientific case to cause western democracies to cripple their economies with trillions of dollars in taxes. Crazy is thinking that the never ending arrogance and contempt shown towards us by the likes of The Team, Tamino, Romm and the rest of you haters would actually help to Save the World.”
[snip]

Ken
October 1, 2009 2:46 pm

All this debate brings to mind the following:
WHY MOST PUBLISHED RESEARCH FINDINGS ARE FALSE, by John P. A. Ioannidis.
Find the paper at:
http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pmed.0020124
At the link, near the mid/lower right of the page, are links to papers that build on the above author’s paper.

Benjamin
October 1, 2009 2:50 pm

“My colleagues and I are working to develop methods that are capable of expressing robust evidence of climate changes using tree-ring data”
Sounds to me like Briffa’s saying “we’re working on a means to ignore all other data, which would then make the selected data favor our bias”. Either that, or wants to make a merely good story. I was kind of hoping debunking would be a little more challenging than that…

artwest
October 1, 2009 2:50 pm

Bret:
“Why does tree-ring based temperatures having any use in the 20th century except as a sanity check on whether or not trees can ever predict temperature?”
As I understand it, that’s the precise point. The sanity check fails in all but a handful of trees.
By cherry picking a tiny number of trees Briffa found the hockey stick shape which he and the warmists wanted (to suggest that recent temperatures are exceptional) but only by ignoring the vast majority of trees in the area which showed little or no similarity to recent temperatures.
The fact that so many trees don’t match recent temperatures suggests strongly that trees are a poor, at best, way of gauging past temperatures.
If trees are a poor indicator of past temperatures then their use as such in numerous AGW-supporting papers is indefensible and much of the “evidence” for AGW crumbles.
(Please correct me if I am wrong, folks.)

vigilantfish
October 1, 2009 2:51 pm

Bravo, Ken Hall! Your arguments get to the core of what is wrong with the ACW fiasco. There are so many urgent environmental problems that are being exacerbated by the political choice to focus on a non-existent problem. Overfishing and the balanced use of marine resources especially need more scientific attention, but some fisheries scientists have attempted to deflect criticism from poor management decisions by appealing to unforeseen climate change as the cause of recent fish stock collapses. “Global warming” or “climate change” offer a scientific “cop out” for other problems we are facing. Somehow, we have to get the focus back on the real
challenges that are facing humanity and our earthly home. So many of the proposed measures are only going to increase our true “environmental footprint”, and at what a cost to human life!
Briffa and his ilk need to consider the consequences of their use of shoddy techniques in support of their current paradigm. A sample size of ten trees! I think we learned better as science undergrads. Thank you Steve McIntyre for your persistence in pursuing the evidence and revealing what actually was done.

kim
October 1, 2009 2:52 pm

brazil84 12:20:50
Oh, no, I meant Scott Mandia was projecting.
===========================

Mark N
October 1, 2009 2:52 pm

There seems a lot of personal dishonesty, fraudulent in it’s intent.
What happened to President Trumans “The buck stops here”. Though in England it might just be a bucket of urine!

janama
October 1, 2009 2:53 pm

Here here Ken Hall !!! well said.

Jeremy
October 1, 2009 2:58 pm

@Bret (14:24:18) :
“I’m lost…
I can’t imagine why this seems like a big deal to everybody (both sides). It makes no sense to me.”
At this point, and I mean no disrespect to any of the major players in this situation, this is a scientific contest of wit of the purest kind. The effects on our understanding of climate due to any form of resolution of this issue will be so minor as to be meaningless. This is true in most sciences when arguments get to this point, so again my apologies to anyone who feels I’m peeing on their interesting work, I really am not trying to do so.
The reason this is a big deal is simply and plainly because one group of people made claims. These people published in scientific journals and in official government reports while being paid with taxpayer dollars. Some of them even became outright activists esposing their views that their research was supposed to back up with evidence… However, it is now clear that the scientific backing for any claims made by these people is unknown at best, and outright fraud at the unthinkable worst. Presuming that it is simply an unknown, then there is still scientific misconduct going on because if you are truly a scientist and you make claims, you are honor-bound to share and discuss your data and methods for making said claims. These sorts of fencing battles between minds occur in many fields in science when there is something that is truly unprovable, and they generally resolve themselves when more data becomes available.
Again, as far as our understanding of climate is concerned, this is almost a non-issue. However, as far as accurate representation of available data is concerned particularly in the highly-publicized IPCC reports, this is huge. This is frankly a battle over propaganda fought with the rapier of scientific method. I don’t know of many times in history when this has happened in such a public fashion. The battle over evolution in schools was one, Copernicus’ fight over his work on a heliocentric solar system was another.

Bill Sticker
October 1, 2009 3:06 pm

Dr Svalgaard has a point about Dendrochronology and the use of such data for temperature proxies. Even at the point of collection, the radial sample cores may not give a complete picture of tree ring growth because very few trees appear to have perfect tree ring symmetry. Even averaging out a great many samples would still leave a very wide margin for error.
I’m also pretty dubious as to how tree rings can translate to an accurate measure of temperature to 0.1 of a degree. Surely you get maximum tree ring growth under what are ideal conditions for a particular species, but those ‘ideal’ conditions cut across a fairly wide gradient of rainfall / environment / temperature and do not correlate well to temperature alone.

cba
October 1, 2009 3:15 pm

someone please enlighten me – didn’t steve exclude the briffa 12 and get a serious drop in late term growth to below average – and didn’t steve then also do another graph with the briffa 12 added back in that yielded a flatline?
if so then isn’t the briffa accusation about removing them rather hollow – not just totally hypocritical????

Steve in SC
October 1, 2009 3:29 pm

Bottom line is that the entire dendro scheme is highly questionable at the very best and downright fraudulent at the worst. With this team, I expect the worst.

Jakers
October 1, 2009 3:47 pm

Isn’t it just amazing that the entire field of climate change was resting on just 10 or 12 trees! The whole temperature record for the last half of the 20th century was a few trees, and now we know it’s all wrong!

carlbrannen
October 1, 2009 3:53 pm

One of the advances in silviculture I’ve been waiting for is sterile trees. A lot of the reduction in growth for old wood is due to production of seed. If you could eliminate this, you’d get more wood, less pine cones.
Every now and then a tree naturally appears that is sterile and they grow unnaturally quickly at old age. A famous example was the “golden spruce”, or Kiidk’yaas about which a book was written. It had yellow needles which reduced its efficiency at photosynthesis, but since it was also sterile, it grew fairly quickly.

J. Bob
October 1, 2009 3:53 pm

Tried to post a note to RC about taking a look at these sets of tree ring data before they dig themselves farther into a hole
http://www.climatedata.info/Proxy/Proxy/treerings_introduction.html
or look at long term temperatures
http://www.rimfrost.no/
but it was to much for the “gatekeeper”. I guess they don’t like me.

Norm
October 1, 2009 4:06 pm

Leif Svalgaard said:
“Although YAD061 looks like an outlier, the other trees do show a rise from ~1820 to today [albeit smaller] so the record [based on those threes] does not look entirely flat to me.”
I agree, but what does the rest of the series show? From seeing these individual trees, all from the same area displayed above, I conclude that any interpretation can be put on any collection depending on the results desired. All data available must to used to balance the picture with only the outliers excluded, i.e. depending on the sample size you through out the top x and bottom y samples before calculating.
In this case he’s kept the data secret long enough that CO2 changes will be implemented as desired because of the wide use of this data influencing many other reports.

David
October 1, 2009 4:42 pm

“10 years on Dr Briffa says he and his colleagues are working to improve the robustness of the results showing that tree ring data reflects climate change!
He has been working for teny ears, not to improve the robustness of the results, except in the negative sense, by refusing to yield the data he is protecting the claimed robustness from being exposed as not robust.

David
October 1, 2009 4:43 pm

fix typo please, ten, not teny

Indiana Bones
October 1, 2009 4:45 pm

Gary (09:55:37) :
“OK, regardless of hard feeling about past behaviors, real and imagined… Extracting a pound of flesh, as Shylock learned, isn’t without its costs. By all means the debade should be open and rigorous, but this reply has little if any nastiness and ought to be treated fairly.”
Reasonable point Gary. Except that Briffa writes with the clarity of a PR obfuscationist. And in doing so leaves the ad homs and “nastiness” to the RC Team. There, nastiness, ridicule and condescension toward skeptics remain the Team mandate.
Mr. Briffa and his defenders need to respond not only to the data manipulation charge – but also to the stonewall charge. There is little doubt that the years of delays and impediment to review have made their whole enterprise more than a little suspect.

Philip_B
October 1, 2009 5:00 pm

Briffa is at the CRU, where the climate models that fueled the whole AGW (choose your noun of preference) started. The climate modelers needed evidence that substantiated the assumptions and conclusions of their models. Briffa obliged.
Which is not to say Briffa deliberately misrepresented the data or conclusions. Whenever post hoc selection of data occurs, so does confirmation bias.
As noted above, dendro studies need randomized sampling to have any scientific validity.

Eric (skeptic)
October 1, 2009 5:06 pm

Since this won’t get posted at RC, I might as well post it here. The reason this event is so damaging to AGW science is that a dozen or so proxy studies were based on Yamal data that was processed, not raw. Basing a proxy study on raw data is acceptable, but basing it on data that has been filtered and then smoothed is not. Briffa’s withholding of his data is poor practice but his choice. But the further use of his processed results is inexcusable.

blondieBC
October 1, 2009 5:07 pm

I have posted two comments on RC. It seems only one was posted. I am disappointed on the quality of debate RC allows.
As a layman, i am very disappointed by the quality of the rebuttal on this issue by the pro-AGW.

Eric (skeptic)
October 1, 2009 5:24 pm

Bret (14:24:18)
Take 1000 cores and find 10 with a hockey stick shape? All that says is you found 10 hockey stick shaped cores because the trees were fertilized, segregated, better watered, etc.
But take 1000 cores and get 1000 hockey sticks? Now you have something. Take 1000 in 10 places around the world and get 10k hockey sticks? now you really have something.
Also matching to the instrument record is tenuous at best seeing the measurement bias. When you restrict the instrument record to just a few locations near the trees, you have an even better chance of UHI or something similar.

Antonio San
October 1, 2009 5:56 pm

black humour: “In the Wild West they’d find a tree and…”

Eric (skeptic)
October 1, 2009 5:59 pm

Correction to my previous post, 100% hockey sticks is not necessary at all, but a majority would be significant. But my previous point of selecting individual cores based on a correlation to the instrument record still stands. It is no more valid than matching them up to CO2 (which some do) or rainfall (which some do) or the number of sparrows in Rosslyn VA (which some do too). With a big enough set to sample from you can always get matches to anything.
If Briffa explains that these 10 trees were selected completely randomly from a much larger number of cores, that would be satisfying, at least for that location. Then that process would need to be repeated at many other locations around the world.

Harold Blue Tooth
October 1, 2009 6:09 pm

“The substantive implication of McIntyre’s comment (made explicitly in subsequent postings by others) is that the recent data that make up this chronology (i.e. the ring-width measurements from living trees) were purposely selected by me from among a larger available data set, specifically because they exhibited recent growth increases.”
Yes, and I still believe it now.

Scott A. Mandia
October 1, 2009 6:12 pm

@ P Wilson (11:46:42) :
Boreholes go back much further than 500 years. This study goes back 2,000 years:
Huang, S. P., H. N. Pollack, and P.-Y. Shen (2008). A late quaternary climate reconstruction based on borehole heat flux data, borehole temperature data, and the instrumental record, Geophys. Res. Lett., 35, L13703, doi:10.1029/2008GL034187.
Here is an image from that article (striking isn’t it?):
http://www2.sunysuffolk.edu/mandias/global_warming/images/borehole_3.gif
Figure 7d (Huang, Pollack, and Shen, 2008) shows the following: a broad cool minimum around AD 200 that was followed by a warming that peaked AD 1200–1400; the Medieval Warm Period (MWP)), a subsequent cooling to a minimum around (AD 1700–1800; the Little Ice Age (LIA), followed by rapid and substantial warming in the past few centuries. The reconstructed peak temperatures in the MWP appear comparable to the AD 1961–1990 mean reference level, with the bold mid-range curve slightly below. None of the borehole reconstructions show MWP peak temperatures as high as late 20th century temperatures, consistent with the conclusions of both National Research Council (2006) and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2007) about the warmth of the MWP. The LIA temperature minimum shows an amplitude about 1.2 K below the MWP maximum, and about 1.7 K below present-day temperatures.
@ Scott A. Mandia (11:49:39) :
Anthony’s reply: Not all – check the latest main page story. Too much money flowing around uncontrolled in our government science programs apparently, you’re just on the low end of the totem pole. – A
No problem, tomorrow night’s Mega Millions jackpot is $44.2 million after state and federal taxes. I will be posting from Hawaii on Saturday! 🙂
@ Tim Clark (11:56:42) :
Huh? I said “regardless of proxy” which means corals, sediments, cave deposits, boreholes, ice cores, etc. NOT just tree rings.
@ kim (12:00:53) :
I have to admit I love your passion but not your statements. If you were a scientist you would understand how we think and that it goes against our nature to have “group think.” There may be exceptions but it certainly is not the rule.
The Nobel Prize goes to the first person that can show why we are all wrong about AGW. That is quite an incentive. Ah, but to have one’s name said along with Galileo, Darwin, and Einstein…..
@ brazil84 (12:02:21) :
The fact is that the hockey stick DOES NOT keep appearing regardless of proxies and study authors.
Wrong.
@ jlc (12:47:02) :
Look at borehole data. It is quite compelling. I have a link and some references for you:
http://www2.sunysuffolk.edu/mandias/global_warming/determining_climate_record.html
Huang, S. (2009). Brief introduction to the geothermal approach of climate reconstruction. Retrieved September 20, 2009 from Borehole
Temperature and Climate Reconstruction Database: http://www.geo.lsa.umich.edu/climate/approach.html
Huang, S. P., H. N. Pollack, and P.-Y. Shen (2008). A late quaternary climate reconstruction based on borehole heat flux data, borehole temperature data, and the instrumental record, Geophys. Res. Lett., 35, L13703, doi:10.1029/2008GL034187.
Pollock, H. (2005, December). Reconstruction of ground surface temperature history from borehole temperature profiles. Retrieved September 29, 2009, from http://home.badc.rl.ac.uk/mjuckes/mitrie_files/docs/mitrie_borehole.pdf
Tamino. (2007, May). Notes from Underground. Retrieved September 20, 2009 from Open Mind Website: http://tamino.wordpress.com/2007/05/20/notes-from-underground/
@ Peter Plail (13:09:14) :
It seems to me that, at the moment, the entire edifice of US and European environmental and economic policy if balanced precariously on a few Siberian treestumps
Peter, step back a second. Do you really believe that thousands of brilliant scientists are going to stand together and tell the world that $ BILLIONS need to be spent to fix a problem that a “few Siberian treestumps” tells us about?
There is a tremendous amount of evidence that humans are warming the climate and that we are now dominating natural forcing mechanisms.
Click the link on my name and see what I have presented which is, to the best of my knowledge, a pretty fair summary of what these thousands of scientists are finding. I am just the messenger – I do not do any research. I have nothing to gain by taking this position and I never voted for Gore. In fact, I am a registered Independent. More importantly, I am a scientist that seeks to know what the heck is going on.
I obviously am an AGW supporter and I have a viewpoint that is quite different than most here at WUWT. I appreciate that WUWT allows me to post my dissenting comments and, to give props to WUWT and its posters, I have learned a great deal by their replies. This latest Yamal controversy which I think is “much ado about nothing” has led me to research proxy data and I am more knowledgeable now.
@ Jeremy (14:34:11) :
I never said we should stop questioning data. I think when the data keeps looking the same perhaps we should start thinking that maybe it is accurate. The NASA example you give is comparing apples to oranges (or should I say Tang?)
@ Jakers (15:47:43) :
Isn’t it just amazing that the entire field of climate change was resting on just 10 or 12 trees!
Even Steve McIntyre doesn’t believe this. The hockey stick does not discount the instrumental record which shows tremendous warming in the modern era, especially the last few decades. Trees or no trees.
————————————————-
A person at RC posted an interesting observation. CA, and subsequently WUWT, got into a tizzy because it appeared that only a subset of tree data was being used to reconstruct past climate. Posters at these two sites asked why not use ALL of the tree data instead of a subset?
Shouldn’t all of the data be better than a small subset?
Now let us think about surfacestations.org. The claim there (and often here) is that the full NOAA station record is contaminated by UHI and we should only use a SUBSET of validated rural stations. I think it was 70 out of 1221?
So is this cherry-picking (according to CA and WUWT) or is this just using the “best data” (Briffa) to get the correct reconstruction?
Touche’

Harold Blue Tooth
October 1, 2009 6:13 pm

“…based on the application of a tree-ring processing method applied to the same set of composite sub-fossil and living-tree ring-width measurements provided to me by Rashit Hantemirov and Stepan Shiyatov which forms the basis of a chronology they published (Hantemirov and Shiyatov 2002)”
This isn’t Adam blaming Eve, is it?

Harold Blue Tooth
October 1, 2009 6:17 pm

“My colleagues and I are working to develop methods that are capable of expressing robust evidence of climate changes using tree-ring data”
Was a grant given to you based on this premise? Is this why you are working to develop these methods?

Gary Hladik
October 1, 2009 6:18 pm

Jeremy (14:58:25)
Well said, Jeremy.

Harold Blue Tooth
October 1, 2009 6:29 pm

Leif Svalgaard (09:14:03) :
does not look entirely flat to me
Ahh, but does it look like a Hockey Stick? That would be the issue at hand, wouldn’t it, sir? Maybe you weren’t aware of a graph called the Mann Hockey Stick.
Have you heard of a movie with a man named Al Gore in it called “An Inconvenient Truth”? That graph was featured in it.
Statisticians, scientists, economists, professors, politicians, and many other people from all walks of life have looked in to the issue of this ever so slightly important ingredient to the topic of global warming.
You may wish to take some time to brush up on the topic of global warming before commenting on it.
Or maybe I should lower my expectations of you and ask if you have ever heard of a thing called “GLOBAL WARMING”?

Bill Illis
October 1, 2009 6:33 pm

We all know this was cherry-picking, pure and simple.
And we all know that tree rings are not thermometres.
And we all know the team like them because of their cherry-picking potential.
And we all tired of having to pussy-foot around calling the kettle black.

bugs
October 1, 2009 6:36 pm

Quote
Quote:
My colleagues and I are working to develop methods that are capable of expressing robust evidence of climate changes using tree-ring data
Mr. Briffa, I need read no further.
You have now explained yourself, and your goal. That goal has nothing to do with Science, or the discovery of truth, it is only the mundane, self-serving goal of proving your pet theory.
Shame on you, and your colleagues.

You don’t think the climate ever changes, and he has to explain himself on that basis, he has to be ashamed of himself? He made no reference to AGW.

Reply to  bugs
October 1, 2009 6:45 pm

Bugs:
I see other problems with the Briffa quote. I don’t really think Briffa meant to say it, but by implication he is saying the previous methods were not capable of expressing evidence of climate changes in a robust manner.

My colleagues and I are working to develop methods that are capable of expressing robust evidence of climate changes using tree-ring data

This is fine as long as the summaries for those previous papers be changed to:

Thar be dragons.

Harold Blue Tooth
October 1, 2009 6:37 pm

Now that this data is available any scientist, statistician, engineer, or mathemtician (etc) who is on the fence about global warming will have something to work with for themselves which will influence them one way or the other!
Thank you Mr. McIntyre. And thanks to the Royal Society for the pressure!

janama
October 1, 2009 6:43 pm

Scott A. Mandia (18:12:27) :
The hockey stick does not discount the instrumental record which shows tremendous warming in the modern era, especially the last few decades. Trees or no trees.

0.23C over the past 3 decades
http://www.drroyspencer.com/wp-content/uploads/UAH_LT_1979_thru_Aug_091.jpg
is that tremendous warming? it’s only .7666/century which is the same as the 20th century.

CodeTech
October 1, 2009 6:43 pm

Mandia:

Now let us think about surfacestations.org. The claim there (and often here) is that the full NOAA station record is contaminated by UHI and we should only use a SUBSET of validated rural stations. I think it was 70 out of 1221?
So is this cherry-picking (according to CA and WUWT) or is this just using the “best data” (Briffa) to get the correct reconstruction?
Touche

Nobody is saying to use a subset.
The whole point is to demonstrate that the record, as it stands, is completely contaminated and essentially useless.
See, unlike SOME people, the vast majority of “skeptics” actually understand how Science works. The correct course of action would really be to discard all past temperature records (which ARE unreliable, no sane individual can possibly argue otherwise) and BEGIN AGAIN.
And, while beginning again, throw out the ridiculously applied concept of a “precautionary principle” as CAGW proponents want to see it applied.
While they’re at it, the CAGW proponents could learn some reading comprehension, and stop hanging out at a corporate sponsored, highly edited “blog” for their information.

Patrick Davis
October 1, 2009 6:45 pm

“Ecotretas (10:24:00) :
It’s interesting to see the grants Briffa’s involved in:
£106,423: ECOCHANGE- Challenges in assessing and forecasting biodivesity and ecosystem changes in Europe
£125,000: Climate Change – Fellow 1 -modelling of the Earth’s climate
£123,789: Process-based methods in the interpretation of tree-growth/ climate relationships
£121,880: To What Extent Was The Little Ice Age A Result Of A Change In The Thermohaline Circulation?
£226,981: Quantitative applications of high resolution late Holocene proxy data sets: estimating climate sensitivity and thermohaline circulation influences
£3,732: Statistical callibration of Eurasian tree ring records.
£1,000: ARC (Academic Research Collaboration) :Long tree ring chronologies in the Alps.
Taken from http://go2.wordpress.com/?id=725X1342&site=wattsupwiththat.wordpress.com&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.cru.uea.ac.uk%2Fcru%2Fresearch%2Fgrants.htm
Grabbed a copy, just in case.
Ecotretas”
Interesting, that’s a lot of bling! Also, the earliest grant starts in 2003, he’s been granted for many years, must be a wealthy, and all of a sudden healthy, man by now. Glad to see where some of my tax pounds went…down the drain it seems.

TJA
October 1, 2009 6:50 pm

That’s right, it is not entirely flat. Since many of the cores extend back to the LIA.

October 1, 2009 6:57 pm

Scott A. Mandia (18:12:27),
I honestly wish the alarmist crowd would try and get it right for once. The long accepted hypothesis is natural climate variability. The climate has gone in regular cycles for hundreds of thousands of years. The current climate is benign, and it is well within historical parameters. Nothing unusual is happening. But someone from the alarmist crowd always tries to turn the Scientific Method on its head, and demands that skeptical scientists must falsify whatever odd conjecture comes along:

“The Nobel Prize goes to the first person that can show why we are all wrong about AGW.”

If I propose a new hypothesis that claims a CO2 breathing dragon lives under my bed, does the mainstream science community have an obligation to falsify my hypothesis? Will the Nobel Prize go to the first person that can show why I am wrong about my pet CO2 dragon? Of course not. Same with AGW.
Skeptical scientists [which is the subset of all good scientists] have no obligation to falsify every hypothesis that comes along. They will, of course, make the attempt — if a hypothesis is testable and falsifiable, and if all raw and adjusted data and their methodologies are made plainly transparent, and available to anyone who asks.
Furthermore, the originator of the new hypothesis must, according to the Scientific Method, do whatever he can to falsify his own hypothesis, and fully cooperate with anyone else trying to falsify it. That’s how science arrives at the truth. But that is not happening with the promoters of the CO2=AGW hypothesis, as the Briffa fiasco makes clear. Those purveying the CO2=AGW hypothesis reject the Scientific Method. They have become politicians, anxious to keep both front feet in the public grant trough.
Climatologist Roy Spencer puts it this way: “No one has falsified the hypothesis that the observed temperature changes are a consequence of natural variability.”
Falsify that hypothesis, and you might get a Nobel. But falsifying the CO2 dragon under my bed, or CO2=AGW? Both have already been falsified; the dragon, by me looking under my bed, and CO2=AGW, by Planet Earth itself, which laughs at the hubris of alarmists by getting chillier as harmless CO2 rises.

Pamela Gray
October 1, 2009 6:57 pm

I love this. I live in a logging town and county. The lowest guy on the logging crew could give you 10 legit reasons why this stand versus that stand 10 yards away is the same age but bigger.
And did you say punch cards? Can you say “hanging chads”? Mine did that all the fricken time. And often in the same place on the cards. The manufacturing process for those cards resulted in some areas not being readily “punchable”. And if you had a mixed set of cards (different manufacturing dates and sources), you might as well bite the bullet and load up on stiff coffee cuz you will be up all night for several nights in a row pinching off recalcitrant hanging chads.
If this guy’s picture (when he was younger) is any measure, he weren’t drinkin coffee when he prepared his punch cards. Wouldn’t be surprised if the antique cards still have potato chip dust on ’em.

October 1, 2009 6:59 pm

I’ve worked outside since I was a small boy in the 1950’s, and have cut down hundreds of trees. I always check out the rings, for every tree has its own story.
I’ve seen some rather neat tricks pulled off by trees, especially concerning how far they can reach with their roots to find fertilizer or moisture. For example, sugar maple roots will reach, in some cases, well over a hundred feet, and grow a swift net of roots in the peat moss surrounding a lady’s azalea’s root ball, so that the azalea withers, for the maple steals all its water.
I’ve also seen tired old maples perk right up, when a pile of manure is heaped out in a pasture a hundred feet away, and later have seen the tree’s rings, when it was cut down, show its growth surged while that manure was available.
After fifty years you learn a thing or two, even if you don’t take any science classes or major in climatology, and I’ve had a hunch many of the tree-ring theories were bunkum, right from the start.
The bristlecone records seemed a lousy proxy, because at the altitude where they grow it is below freezing nearly every night, and daytime temperatures are only above freezing for something like 10% of the year. They live on the borderline of existence, for trees, because trees go dormant when water freezes. (As soon as it drops below freezing the sap stops dripping into the sugar maple buckets.) Therefore the bristlecone pines were dormant 90% of all days and 99% of all nights, in a sense failing to collect temperature data all that time, yet they were supposedly a very important proxy for the entire planet. To that I just muttered “bunkum.”
But there were other trees in other places. I was skeptical about the data, but until I saw so much was based on a single tree, YAD061, I couldn’t be sure I could just say “bunkum.”
YAD061 looks very much like a tree that grew up in the shade of its elders, and therefore grew slowly, until age or ice-storms or insects removed the elders and the shade. Then, with sunshine and the rotting remains of its elders to feed it, the tree could take off.
I have seen growth patterns much like YAD061 in the rings of many stumps in New Hampshire, and not once have I thought it showed a sign of global warming, or of increased levels of CO2 in the air. Rather the cause is far more simple: A childhood in the under-story, followed by a tree’s “day in the sun.”
Dr. Briffa should spend less time gazing at computer screens, and actually get out and associate with trees more. At the very least, it might be good for his health.

TJA
October 1, 2009 7:06 pm

“So is this cherry-picking (according to CA and WUWT) or is this just using the “best data” (Briffa) to get the correct reconstruction?”
OMG.
Let us compare the two methods of selection. The surfacestations method is to survey every site possible, and applying consistent, published, standards which are designed to minimize temperature error. Once this has been done, let the data fall where it will.
Briffa looks for data series which contain hockey sticks using the beard of statistical methods to ‘prove’ that there is a hockey stick in the data. Briffa uses methods that are fine in and of themselves, if one honors the assumptions under which they were developed, which he does not.
How you can say these are the same is totally beyond me. When Craig Loehle did a reconstruction only using data that had been independently proven to be accurate temperature proxies in peer reviewed literature. Guess what? No hockey stick. Briffa is either [snip]. I think he is probably locked into group think.

James F. Evans
October 1, 2009 7:14 pm

Liar, liar, pants on fire.

Jim
October 1, 2009 7:15 pm

Scott A. Mandia (18:12:27) :
I guess you have a snappy defense of Briffa keeping the data under wraps for 10 years? Let’s hear it.
Are the data for your other hockey sticks out in the open? Are these techniques proven any better than tree rings? I doubt it.

October 1, 2009 7:37 pm

@ Scott A. Mandia (18:12:27) :
Group think happens all the time in science. It is known as dogma. It is usually a single scientist who has to fight the battle against dogma, and then the dogma changes.
I can give you many examples of this happening in the past. As a fellow scientist, you should know this is true.

ssquared
October 1, 2009 8:05 pm

Caleb….you saved the best for last. While all the scientific arguments, discussions and points of view are interesting, there is nothing like a splash of reality on all this to bring in the reality……that maybe it’s an argument about irrelivent data.
For the record, I believe AGW is hokum.

richcar
October 1, 2009 8:13 pm

Scott Mandia:
“The reconstructed peak temperatures in the MWP appear comparable to the AD 1961–1990 mean reference level”
If I understand you then your hocky stick is the .5 degree C increase illustrated by GISS from the 1961-1990 mean reference to today. I wonder about the resolution of the reconstruction over the MWP. Graph b in RC’s response appears to show much higher frequency and variation during the MWP. Could not a similar .5 degrees over thirty years have occured and not be easily resolvable?

James F. Evans
October 1, 2009 8:14 pm

Leif Svalgaard : “Although YAD061 looks like an outlier, the other trees do show a rise from ~1820 to today [albeit smaller] so the record [based on those threes] does not look entirely flat to me.”
REPLY:[…]There could be hundreds of reasons besides climatic temperature change.
Svalgaard: “So why the fascination with those trees in the first place? If there can be so many reasons besides climate changes, why get all hot under the collar about something that apparently is a poor indicator?”
Response: Because they made claims this was a good indicator.
Svalgaard comes off as an prostrate apologist for poor science.

October 1, 2009 8:15 pm

Caleb (18:59:33) :
Great post, Caleb, this is why I love this site. Insight from people with a lifetime of experience.

Tom Jones
October 1, 2009 8:15 pm

Scott A. Mandia (18:12:27)
Thanks for the URL pointers. I am always interested in learning things.
It seems to me that there are a number of related hypotheses:
1. Global temperatures have been rising in parallel with industrial development.
2. The rise in temperatures correlates well with CO2 in the atmosphere.
3. The rising temperatures are controllable by controlling CO2 in the atmosphere.
4. The rise in temperatures can be predicted by the climate models of the IPCC.
5. The rise over the rest of this century will be so large that it is incumbent on society to do whatever it takes to limit production of CO2.
Well, I’m back at #1. That seems to be true. #2 seems to be mostly true. There have been temperature events, though, that appear to be entirely uncorrelated with CO2 concentration. #3 seems to be highly questionable. #4 is just absurd. My response to #5 is “I don’t think so”.
My background is Engineering and Physics. I think we are at the stage of trying to understand the phenomenon. We are a long way from designing a solution. Trying to stampede me by predicting that a crisis is at hand is a waste of time. Trying to overwhelm me with the notion that I should just leave it to the “pro’s” and take their word for it is an insult.
Incidentally, I place a very high premium on being able to predict the outcome of an experiment. I place no value at all on a “consensus” among scientists.

October 1, 2009 8:19 pm

Harold Blue Tooth (18:29:26) :
Ahh, but does it look like a Hockey Stick?
Yep, with a very short handle.

October 1, 2009 8:23 pm

@ Leif Svalgaard, Anthony Watts and all my dear colleagues…
Many factors, biological and abiotic, affect the growth of any plant living on this planet. However, a factor exists which is preponderant over the remainder factors like the concentration of CO2, rainfalls, glaciations, etc.; it is the Solar Irradiance. The intensity of the incident light on the Earth’s surface has a proportional effect on photosynthesis, the ultimate cause of plants’ growth. That’s the reason by which the databases from treerings are strongly correlated with the intensity of solar irradiance.
To have a high intensity of incident solar irradiance doesn’t mean a higher temperature because of the physical regulation of the climate by the oceans. There are other factors that modify the plants’ growth, so not always an increase of solar irradiance means an enhanced growth of the plant.
The problem with Mann’s and Briffa’s works is that they show the database from treerings as if they were an accurate mirror of the environmental temperature; this belief is false. Even so, the Media gives more credit to this myth than to the trusty elements taken from careful observations of nature.
The treerings are not a reliable source of information about the environmental paleotemperatures, but for showing that the plant is taking more energy from the incident solar radiation.
There is a very humble tool for measuring the intensity of the light striking on a plant, i.e. the photometer. Ask a biologist if he has detected years with high incidence of light on the surface standing out against years with extremely low incidence of light on the surface. This factor is determinant for the health and robustness of any plant. 🙂

savethesharks
October 1, 2009 8:25 pm

Scott A. Mandia (18:12:27) : “The Nobel Prize goes to the first person that can show why we are all wrong about AGW. That is quite an incentive. Ah, but to have one’s name said along with Galileo, Darwin, and Einstein…..”
Uh huh….but most recently along with Yasser Arafat, the IPPC, and Al Gore….
In today’s politico-scientific climate, most of us will pass or decline on such an award. It would NOT be a compliment.
That is all well and good anyways, Scott, because the BURDEN OF PROOF is on you, not on the Skeptics.
The Skeptics do not have to do anything.
Nothing at all.
There are no real observational reasons to be concerned, outside the normal cycles of the planet, however extreme they might be.
The burden of proof is on your camp.
Produce the evidence. And I don’t mean in the Hollywood world of GCMs either.
Show the actual tropical tropospheric fingerprint.
Show those independent reproductions of hockey sticks and how they were reproduced.
Explain as to why the “group-think” phenomenon [where many individuals are acting as a super-organism] could NOT be in effect in the world-wide scientific community, thanks to the GISS, James Hansen’s control of the data, and the IPCC?
Mass delusions have happened before in human history and they will no doubt repeat themselves.
The REAL problem Scott, is that there are TWO SEPARATE ARGUMENTS here:
Are homo sapiens polluting the Earth, and should they change their ways and invent new technologies? YES
Do the damage that homo sapiens cause really influence mega-cycles that have been around for BILLIONS of years? NO
I’m sorry, but no matter hard our “fire-ant opportunism” may try, we are not going to be able to change the whims of the PDO to any measurable extent.
We can certainly make the Pacific Trash gyre worse though.
[Why isn’t any AGW / IPCC thinktank trying to solve that???]
Pick up your ******* trash people! …Environmental Responsibility 101
I long for the day that Science wrests itself from the political establishment (of either side) and actually solves global problems and makes the Earth better than they found it!
Chris
Norfolk, VA, USA

bill
October 1, 2009 8:26 pm

Patrick Davis (18:45:15) :
For goodness sake have a look at how the CRU is funded. Check how many of the staff are salaried by the UEA. All grants go to pay for researchers and other non salaried staff

October 1, 2009 8:31 pm

Whoever said this isn’t a smoking gun is quite right. The Yamal/Briffa affair isn’t a smoking gun in the sense that it alone kills the AGW scare or it alone shows malfeisance by the Team.
What it does show is that “Trust me, I’m a climate scientist” is no longer valid.
Like Anthony, I do not accept that Keith Briffa is giving full, plain disclosure as to why Yamal should be used as a proxy for anything, why the Polar Urals chronology disappeared after it was updated, nor why Yamal is so artificially sparse in its critical variance.
If Keith Briffa had not replied because of his health problems, I would have understood. But the fact that he could respond so quickly while ill throws a spotlight on his obstructive and uncooperative behaviour over the last ten years while healthy.

John Nicklin
October 1, 2009 8:32 pm

Scott A. Mandia (18:12:27) :
Nice bore hole graph. I did notice that the heavy black line seems to be the one that shows the highest increase in temperature or maybe it just hides the other lines. These spaghetti graphs are a good example of “chart junk” they look good but convey little real infromation. A better presentation would be showing each line on a different chart so the reader could see the trend of the line without having to guess what’s behind the darkest one.
I noticed that the paleo reconstructions in the main paper have the modern instrument data spliced onto the paleo data. Comparing apples to oranges comes to mind.

October 1, 2009 8:33 pm

James F. Evans (20:14:26) :
Response: Because they made claims this was a good indicator.
Svalgaard comes off as an prostrate apologist for poor science.

If that is the claim they made, then that is the claim we should address, attack, and beat down if we think otherwise. Not just their various shenanigans. And if it is such a poor indicator, then their poor analysis is moot, because of GIGO.

Chris V.
October 1, 2009 8:34 pm

Are the data for your other hockey sticks out in the open?
the data for the borehole temperature reconstructions certainly are:
http://www.geo.lsa.umich.edu/climate/

Reply to  Chris V.
October 1, 2009 8:40 pm

Chris V.
Lonnie Thompson?

savethesharks
October 1, 2009 8:35 pm

bugs (18:36:10) : “My colleagues and I are working to develop methods that are capable of expressing robust evidence of climate changes using tree-ring data Mr. [sic] Briffa, I need read no further.
You have now explained yourself, and your goal. That goal has nothing to do with Science, or the discovery of truth, it is only the mundane, self-serving goal of proving your pet theory.
Shame on you, and your colleagues.”

Smoking Gunnimus Maximus.
The BLATANT derailment of the august principles of the Scientific Method in Dr. Briffa’s statement. Thanks for this, Bugs.
To quote Hamlet: “Me thinks he [Briffa] protesteth too much.”
Chris
Norfolk, VA, USA

October 1, 2009 8:40 pm

John A (20:31:07) :
What it does show is that “Trust me, I’m a climate scientist” is no longer valid.
Was it ever?

GGM
October 1, 2009 8:43 pm

Here is a far more concise and accurate response to them :
Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire!

savethesharks
October 1, 2009 8:44 pm

“My background is Engineering and Physics. I think we are at the stage of trying to understand the phenomenon. We are a long way from designing a solution. Trying to stampede me by predicting that a crisis is at hand is a waste of time. Trying to overwhelm me with the notion that I should just leave it to the “pro’s” and take their word for it is an insult.
Incidentally, I place a very high premium on being able to predict the outcome of an experiment. I place no value at all on a “consensus” among scientists.”

GRRRR. Spot on. May our species produce more engineers and scientists with this outlook.
May the TRUTH win out. That is what we are after, right?
Chris
Norfolk, VA, USA

pwl
October 1, 2009 8:45 pm

“Justify your own method of selecting 10 trees out of a much larger data set. You’ve failed to do that. That’s the million dollar question.”
Right on target. That’s what I’ve been wanting to know.
Briffa Writes: “My application of the Regional Curve Standardisation method to these same data was intended to better represent the multi-decadal to centennial growth variations necessary to infer the longer-term variability in average summer temperatures in the Yamal region: to provide a direct comparison with the chronology produced by Hantemirov and Shiyatov.“
“… was intended to better represent …”
What? That sounds like manipulation. This isn’t a movie or a novel where you get to cherry pick the “representation”, it’s science and you must not use trickery Briffa dude. Besides how the heck are you supposed to know what a “better representation” is anyhow?
I think by represent Briffa might mean to “better allow us to present our biased point of view so that people freak out”, or that seems to now be the effect.

richcar
October 1, 2009 8:45 pm

I really feel that this discussion has been too focused on the validity of arctic tree rings as temperature proxies for or against the Hockey Stick. Although I am a sceptic I feel RC and Scott Mandia are rightfully trying to turn the discussion to the various other methods used in reconstructions on more of a global basis. My definition of the hockey stick is whether the sum of all these proxies really convince me that today’s climate is exceptional or is similar to temps during the MWP. What concerns me the most is that the hockey stick presented in the media does not even closely represent what these scientists are showing us.

Patrick Davis
October 1, 2009 8:45 pm

“bill (20:26:05) :
Patrick Davis (18:45:15) :
For goodness sake have a look at how the CRU is funded. Check how many of the staff are salaried by the UEA. All grants go to pay for researchers and other non salaried staff”
Are you suggesting the CRU, and sub-groups (CCPR), some of which are sub-groups of The Met Office, isn’t, since at least the mid-1980’s, Govn’t funded? That’s a good one Bill, I needed a laugh to start the w/e off. Cheers!
“£226,981: Quantitative applications of high resolution late Holocene proxy data sets: estimating climate sensitivity and thermohaline circulation influences”
Represents about 15 years salary when I last worked in the UK. That’s what I call a good wicket.

savethesharks
October 1, 2009 8:57 pm

John A (20:31:07) : “If Keith Briffa had not replied because of his health problems, I would have understood. But the fact that he could respond so quickly while ill throws a spotlight on his obstructive and uncooperative behaviour over the last ten years while healthy.”
The cold, hard truth. Wishing Dr. Briffa health and wellness….but this inconsistency is unavoidable.
Especially when your research is leveraging the entire world right now [even though Carbon Credits are not looking too good right now on the CBT].
Chris
Norfolk, VA, USA

savethesharks
October 1, 2009 9:03 pm

richcar (20:45:19) : “Although I am a sceptic I feel RC and Scott Mandia are rightfully trying to turn the discussion to the various other methods used in reconstructions on more of a global basis.”
No.
“Rightfully trying to turn” in this case…is seen as an excuse for creating a strawman.
They need to produce the evidence of those “reconstructions.”
Chris
Norfolk, VA, USA

Jeremy
October 1, 2009 9:13 pm

Caleb,
Nice post – thanks. Sometimes it takes someone without a lifetime dedicated to academic sophistry to state the darned obvious: “the emperor has no clothes”.
In one foul swoop, Dr Briffa has killed the “science” (if it can be called that) of tree ring reading deader than a dead dog’s bone buried down a blind alley off a dead-end street in a ghost town!
Hip Hip Hooray Tree Cheers for Dr Briffa.

Pragmatic
October 1, 2009 9:19 pm

If we use the recent crashed Carbon Credit Market price of 10 cents per ton of CO2 – as a proxy for acceptance of Anthropogenic Global Warming – AGW is in serious trouble.
The plummet in CO2 “pollution” pricing is a strong indicator of a lack of belief in man-made global warming. One need not cherry pick at this proxy to confirm that the climate change threat is proving to be a motivational bust.
But all is not lost. We are moving forward with global electrification of transport. Big oil companies are seriously at work on alternative fuels. The urgency to end foreign oil imports is clear. And there is a healthy awareness of the need to balance development against the resources that allow it.
If only warmists hadn’t been so misanthropic in their zeal – and a lot less catastrophic in their performance – AGW may have done more good.

denny
October 1, 2009 9:29 pm

Mike Bryant (10:24:25) :
Look… I am a plumber… can someone please explain how the tree ring data can override the existing arctic temperature records? It seems to me that this alone puts the lie to the Yamal hockey stick… Like I said… I’m a plumber… what am I missing here??
Mike Bryant
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You’re not missing anything Mike…unlike some others who “responded” to
you…I understood exactly what you were asking. That’s probably because I’m
a retired long haul trucker, and not an Academic. The temp record should discredit
the dendro BUT….they do a lot of hand waving and mumbling of magic scientific
stuff that Plumbers, Truckers, and other common mortals aren’t capable of understanding….and that’s supposed to make it OK.
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Leif you hit the nail on the head as Mike had alluded to before.
Leif Svalgaard (12:09:52) :
Tim Clark (10:58:14) :
But the statistical contortions leading to erroneous conclusions drawn from a few scrawny trees really [snip] me off. These people have no concept of any facet of plant physiology.
And that is my point. One can lament the cherry picking and the sloppy stats [can find some of that on both sides of the fence], but the public will see that as bickering rather than science. To make a scientific point one has to attack the base of it all: that assumption that tree-rings are a good proxy for temperatures.
DonK31 (11:15:09) :
The problem, to me is that those trees are the justification for trillions in increased taxes and increased control of the people by their “betters” in government.
And that is even more reason for doing the ‘attack’ right.
Bernie (11:15:49) :
I saw the data the same way Leif did: All 10 trees show a warming trend – though YAD06 appears as an outlier in this very small sample. […] I think Steve’s whole argument is that a lack of transparency with respect to data and methods is bad for climate science.
Transparency is a must, but if it is true that tree-rings are a lousy proxy then transparency doesn’t matter. I can photograph the tea-leaves I use for sunspot prediction and produce the photograph for all to see and even send in the leaves to an independent lab for verification that these are genuine tea-leaves.
The ‘attack’ must [also, and primarily] be on whether trees are any good for this.
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The problem with Leif’s suggestion as it concerns Steve Mc in particular and other Academics as well, is this….. He/they seemingly have ABSOLUTELY NO INTEREST in
whether or not tea leaves, chicken guts or tree rings are a proper metric for ascertaining ANYTHING. Their concerns are seemingly academic and procedural
in nature. It would seem that as long as the sampling and math is done correctly they don’t have a major problem with it.
Why in the hell would you be overly concerned with Ice Cores,when the glacier you’re
drilling on keeps spitting out VEGETATION indicating that the freeze line was
higher in the past. Or tree rings when, tree lines exist higher or further north than
the ones you’re sampling. It is completely beyond me as well….. but then I don’t
have a Diploma from a University. (Think the Wizard of OZ talking to the Scare Crow
here)
Dennis Dunton

bill
October 1, 2009 9:33 pm

Patrick Davis (20:45:26) :
http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/about/history/
Today, CRU is still dependent upon research grant income to maintain the size and breadth of our research and student communities. The European Commission of the European Union (EU) provides the largest fraction of our research income under the Environment and Climate Change Programme. …. Although EU funding is very important, we also endeavour to maintain the diverse pattern of funding reflected by the research described in this “history of CRU” and in the list of Acknowledgements below.
Since 1994, the situation has improved and now three of the senior staff are fully funded by ENV/UEA and two others have part of their salaries paid. The fact that CRU has and has had a number of long-standing research staff is testimony to the quality and relevance of our work. Such longevity in a research centre, dependent principally on soft money, in the UK university system is probably unprecedented. The number of CRU research staff as of the end of July 2007 is 15 (including those fully funded by ENV/UEA).
£226,981 is for the period:
01-Jul-03 30-Jun-08
£45,400/year.
The recipients are:
Prof K.R. Briffa
Prof P.D. Jones
Dr T. Osborn
Dr S. Tett
Thats about £11k each. assuming that no money is spent on research.
Keep real.

Jeremy
October 1, 2009 9:35 pm

£106,423: ECOCHANGE…
£125,000: Climate Change – Fellow 1 -modelling of the Earth’s climate…
£123,789: Process-based methods…
£121,880: To What Extent Was The Little Ice Age A Result Of…
£226,981: Quantitative applications of high resolution late Holocene…
£3,732: Statistical callibration of Eurasian tree ring records.
£1,000: ARC (Academic Research Collaboration) :Long tree ring….
Aha! It looks like the Briffalump has been at the Honey Jar!
Briffalumps love Honey!
“What have you decided, Steve “Pooh” Mcintyre?”
“I have decided to catch a Briffalump.”
Pooh nodded his head several times as he said this, and waited for Piglet to say “How?” or “Pooh, you couldn’t!” or something helpful of that sort, but Piglet said nothing. The fact was Piglet was wishing that he had thought about it first.
“I shall do it,” said Pooh, after waiting a little longer, “by means of a trap. And it must be a Cunning Trap, so you will have to help me, Piglet.”
“Pooh,” said Piglet, feeling quite happy again now, “I will.” And then he said, “How shall we do it?” and Pooh said, “That’s just it. How?” And then they sat down together to think it out.
Pooh’s first idea was that they should dig a Very Deep Pit, and then the Briffalump would come along and fall into the Pit, and—-“Why?” said Piglet.
“Why what?” said Pooh.
“Why would he fall in?”
Pooh rubbed his nose with his paw, and said that Briffalump might be walking along, humming a little song, and looking up at the trees, wondering about Global Climate (Briffalumps worry about these things you know), and so he wouldn’t see the Very Deep Pit until he was half-way down, when it would be too late.

AEGeneral
October 1, 2009 9:44 pm

Excellent rebuttal, Anthony. Keep the heat on ’em — no pun intended.
The mere presence of debate works in our favor, even if the media ignores it (which admittedly is frustrating). But at least this week’s revelations are on permanent record on the internet for all to see.
Debate: It’s not just for breakfast anymore.

October 1, 2009 9:46 pm

Tom Jones (20:15:48) :
1. Global temperatures have been rising in parallel with industrial development.
2. The rise in temperatures correlates well with CO2 in the atmosphere.
3. The rising temperatures are controllable by controlling CO2 in the atmosphere.
4. The rise in temperatures can be predicted by the climate models of the IPCC.
5. The rise over the rest of this century will be so large that it is incumbent on society to do whatever it takes to limit production of CO2.

Lets see if i understand this correctly as a “simple” person.
1. Yup, but a correlation is still not a cause. And this because in the past there have been periods when the average temperatures have been as warm or even warmer as it is now. There are several hundreds of publications backed by solid evidence that show a MWP and a LIA, the burden of proof is in your AGW-camp to show that this was caused by CO2. If you leave room for natural variation than i could suggest that a least part of the current warming is caused by natural factors, your task is to disprove this. Even the IPCC admits that at least a part of the warming is caused by natural factors.
2. No it does not. Especially on long periods of time in our past. But on a shorter timescale, the last 10 years do not correlate at all.
3. Unproven theory, because we only know how this works on a small scale in a laboratory, we still have no clue how this work on a global scale with a lot more natural and artificial factors (land-use, UHI and so on) thrown in, this is also the reason why modelling fails as a prediction tool.
4. No it can not, the margin of errors are to wide to make a sensible prediction. If you are to pick a number out of 100 than you should not choose 25 to 75 in the hope that you are correct somewhere in the next 9 decades.
Still its only a prediction, Lehman Brothers believed in AGW yet no one did predict that the bank would go belly-up within a year. Why should i trust those longterm predictions with so much unknown factors if shortterm economic predictions fail even if we know almost all factors that are in play?
5. Not very likely at all since all models did not predict the current decline in average temperatures. When does this thermageddon take off, now, in 10 years time, at the end of the century or perhaps never? And by how much? And what of that much is caused by artifical factors and what is cause by natural factors?
My question is, how much A is there in AGW (or ACC), it can’t be 100% nor can it be 0%, the current rise in temperature since 1850 is about 0.75 degrees celcius, if the factor A is 50% than 0.5 x 0.75 would result in 0.375 degrees. And my guess is that this factor A is even lower than 50%.
How much is factor A? The trees don’t tell us, thats for sure.

Pofarmer
October 1, 2009 10:00 pm

Some of the problems with bore hole measurements.
http://www.kilty.com/pdfs/t-d.pdf

Noelene
October 1, 2009 10:03 pm

Leif set me off googling tree rings indicate global warming,to see how much publicity there was about the subject.I came across a video on You Tube by a dendochronologist(he he I learnt a new word)

As a member of the unwashed masses(that phrase amuses me,it’s just so wrong )this lady is very convincing.The only part I wondered about was where she states that temperatures are warmer over the last couple of decades than they have been for a thousand years.Is there a thousand years of tree ring data?The video was uploaded in 2007,I don’t know what year it was made,but as a member of the public,with no interest in science,I have no reason to doubt this lady,why would I?I will see a lot of documentaries by educated people saying AGW is a problem,who am I(as a member of the unwashed masses)to challenge that?For me,my conclusion to all this
scientists are not as smart as they think they are,they have hoodwinked the public into believing they are smarter than they are.I am not saying all scientists,but it seems to me the majority have been corrupted.Time for a new broom,and accountability.

October 1, 2009 10:19 pm

Noelene (22:03:05) :
Is there a thousand years of tree ring data?
12,000 years or so.

James F. Evans
October 1, 2009 10:20 pm

“The Nobel Prize goes to the first person that can show why we are all wrong about _________.”
This statement is made many times by consensus scientists and their acolytes when others challenge them about a particular proposition or dogma.
It is an empty statement because they know that if the dogma is sacred enough, no amount of evidence will persuade the diehards that the dogma is wrong…that’s why it’s called dogma.
And they know who controls the voting for the Nobel Prize…those that maintain and enforce the dogma…