Mike's Nature Trick

This is a mirrored post from ClimateAudit.org which is terribly overloaded.

Mike’s Nature trick

by Jean S on November 20th, 2009

So far one of the most circulated e-mails from the CRU hack is the following from Phil Jones to the original hockey stick authors – Michael Mann, Raymond Bradley, and Malcolm Hughes.

From: Phil Jones

To: ray bradley ,mann@xxxxx.xxx, mhughes@xxxx.xxx

Subject: Diagram for WMO Statement

Date: Tue, 16 Nov 1999 13:31:15 +0000

Cc: k.briffa@xxx.xx.xx,t.osborn@xxxx.xxx

Dear Ray, Mike and Malcolm,

Once Tim’s got a diagram here we’ll send that either later today or

first thing tomorrow.

I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps

to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from

1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline. Mike’s series got the annual

land and marine values while the other two got April-Sept for NH land

N of 20N. The latter two are real for 1999, while the estimate for 1999

for NH combined is +0.44C wrt 61-90. The Global estimate for 1999 with

data through Oct is +0.35C cf. 0.57 for 1998.

Thanks for the comments, Ray.



Prof. Phil Jones

Climatic Research Unit Telephone +44 (0) xxxxx

School of Environmental Sciences Fax +44 (0) xxxx

University of East Anglia

Norwich Email p.jones@xxxx.xxx



The e-mail is about WMO statement on the status of the global climate in 1999 -report, or more specifically, about its cover image.

click to enlarge

Back in December 2004 John Finn asked about “the divergence” in Myth vs. Fact Regarding the “Hockey Stick” -thread of RealClimate.org.

Whatever the reason for the divergence, it would seem to suggest that the practice of grafting the thermometer record onto a proxy temperature record – as I believe was done in the case of the ‘hockey stick’ – is dubious to say the least.

mike’s response speaks for itself.

No researchers in this field have ever, to our knowledge, “grafted the thermometer record onto” any reconstrution. It is somewhat disappointing to find this specious claim (which we usually find originating from industry-funded climate disinformation websites) appearing in this forum.

But there is an interesting twist here: grafting the thermometer onto a reconstruction is not actually the original “Mike’s Nature trick”! Mann did not fully graft the thermometer on a reconstruction, but he stopped the smoothed series in their end years. The trick is more sophisticated, and was uncovered by UC over here. (Note: Try not to click this link now, CA is overloaded. Can’t even get to it myself to mirror it. -A)

When smoothing these time series, the Team had a problem: actual reconstructions “diverge” from the instrumental series in the last part of 20th century. For instance, in the original hockey stick (ending 1980) the last 30-40 years of data points slightly downwards. In order to smooth those time series one needs to “pad” the series beyond the end time, and no matter what method one uses, this leads to a smoothed graph pointing downwards in the end whereas the smoothed instrumental series is pointing upwards — a divergence. So Mann’s solution was to use the instrumental record for padding, which changes the smoothed series to point upwards as clearly seen in UC’s figure (violet original, green without “Mike’s Nature trick”).

TGIF-magazine has already asked Jones about the e-mail, and he denied misleading anyone but did remember grafting.

“No, that’s completely wrong. In the sense that they’re talking about two different things here. They’re talking about the instrumental data which is unaltered – but they’re talking about proxy data going further back in time, a thousand years, and it’s just about how you add on the last few years, because when you get proxy data you sample things like tree rings and ice cores, and they don’t always have the last few years. So one way is to add on the instrumental data for the last few years.”

Jones told TGIF he had no idea what me meant by using the words “hide the decline”.

“That was an email from ten years ago. Can you remember the exact context of what you wrote ten years ago?”

Maybe it helps Dr. Jones’s recollection of the exact context, if he inspects UC’s figure carefully. We here at CA are more than pleased to be able to help such nice persons in these matters.

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Johnny Bombenhagel

Read the excuse for this on Realclimate.com:
“Scientists often use the term “trick” to refer to a “a good way to deal with a problem”, rather than something that is “secret”, and so there is nothing problematic in this at all”
By the way: WUWT has 1000 comments on one topic for the first time…

Dr Phil Jones’ 13.7 million British pounds in grants, seen in one of the XLS files,
indicate that Jones’ less sophisticated tricks to hide the decline, relatively to Mann’s relatively refined ones, may be sufficient to fool the science-limited British taxpayer. 😉


Take no prisoners.
Go go go.

Robert M.

What we have here is evidence that the team has engaged in:
1. Conspiracy
2. Government Fraud
3. Computer Fraud
4. Obstruction of Justice
5. Environmental Law Violations (Falsifying lab data pertaining to environmental regulations) (snicker)
6. Suppression of evidence
7. Tampering with evidence
8. Public Corruption
9. Bribery
Does that cover it?

Ron de Haan

Excellent work.

L Nettles



I would be interested to hear some informed opinion comparing/contrasting this piece to RC’s explanation for “hide the decline”. They seem pretty consistent to me.
If Jones had written “address the divergence problem” instead of “hide the decline” would we be talking about that email at all?
Not that I’m entirely comfortable with “the divergence problem”. I’m not. To me it is evidence that the dendro’s specialty is not ready-for-primetime to be relying on for the kind of grave responsibilities it is being used for currently. Not that they shouldn’t keep working on it. Not that, perhaps, it won’t eventually get there (and perhaps not), but that it isn’t there yet.
Still, if Jones had written “address the divergence problem” instead –a well known non-controversial (in the sense everyone knows it is there) issue, would we be having this conversation about that particular email?


WOW – this has totally blown off the lid off. We have evidence of premeditated deceit and then outright denial when caught red handed.
Dr. Jones et Al. it is time to do the honorable thing when caught red handed as a cheats and a liars. PLEASE RESIGN before you are all FIRED.

Doug in Seattle

As delicious as this all is, and as much as I agree that is shows these climate “scientists” to total a$$es, I’m not at all sure it represents the smoking gun so many seem to think.
But what clowns they are.


Keep it up!!! Holy cow, they are on the ropes now. It won’t be long before the ref stops this fight!
As Hunter said, go go go!!!!


Re “trick”, that was addressed in the other thread by many people –just google “tips and tricks” (with the quotes) and look at the responses you get and their nature. I got “about 12,000,000” when I just did it.


there are going to have a hard job burying this one but they are going to try very very hard
Hopefully some people will stand up to in the science industry for bringing there profession into disrepute

I agree with RC… “Trick” does NOT mean they were trying to deceive anyone. No way. Nothing problematic here. Instead, “trick” means selling their souls for power, prestige and money…as in the prostitution sense. Duh!

The emails are now searchable online here:
I typed in “skeptics” and the first email I read was allegedly from renowned climatologist Tom Wigley written in 1997 castigating his fellow scientists for misrepresenting the science to influence Kyoto. Here is the link:
And here are a few paragraphs from the email:
“I was very disturbed by your recent letter, and your attempt to get others to endorse it. Not only do I disagree with the content of this letter, but I also believe that you have severely distorted the IPCC “view” when you say that “the latest IPCC assessment makes a convincing economic case for immediate control of emissions.” In contrast to the one-sided opinion expressed in your letter, IPCC WGIII SAR and TP3 review the literature and the issues in a balanced way presenting arguments in support of both “immediate control” and the spectrum of more cost-effective options. It is not IPCC’s role to make “convincing cases” for any particular policy option; nor does it. However, most IPCC readers would draw the conclusion that the balance of economic evidence favors the emissions trajectories given in the WRE paper. This is contrary to your statement.
This is a complex issue, and your misrepresentation of it does you a dis-service. To someone like me, who knows the science, it is apparent that you are presenting a personal view, not an informed, balanced scientific assessment. What is unfortunate is that this will not be apparent to the vast majority of scientists you have contacted. In issues like this, scientists have an added responsibility to keep their personal views separate from the science, and to make it clear to others when they diverge from the objectivity they (hopefully) adhere to in their scientific research. I think you have failed to do this.
When scientists color the science with their own PERSONAL views or make categorical statements without presenting the evidence for such statements, they have a clear responsibility to state that that is what they are doing. You have failed to do so. Indeed, what you are doing is, in my view, a form of dishonesty more subtle but no less egregious than the statements made by the greenhouse skeptics, Michaels, Singer et al. I find this extremely disturbing.”

Fred from Canuckistan . . .

The amount of Kharma in having CRU, the great secret host of data that cannot and will not be released to peons who just want to find problems now having all that data andf then some exposed is massive.
I hope the irony is not lost on Jones, Mann et al. Maybe the write a new paper, get it peer reviewed and then have it published.


Posted on Richard’s site at the BBC.
While I can’t condone hacking, it’s great to see this information out in the open.


To those defending the ‘trick’:
The problem is not that he called his technique a ‘trick’.
The problem is that the intent of his technique is to fool people into thinking something is going on that is not, in fact, going on.


How specious of you to point this out. ;P If no one can get to CA, why is it so busy?

I have no problem with the word “trick” – I use many “Tricks of the Trade” to diagnose problems, find workarounds for recalcitrant computers, etc. I have lots of problems with the word “hide” and can’t think of many places in a professional position where hide is good other than military and similar fields.
Congrats to John Finn and others who worked on this years ago. Good job!

Read the excuse for this on Realclimate.com:
“Scientists often use the term “trick” to refer to a “a good way to deal with a problem”, rather than something that is “secret”, and so there is nothing problematic in this at all”

I personally use the word ‘murder’ to mean ‘wonder if that person would be nicer if they owned a puppy’.
Any future confessions or other statements by me should be read with this in mind.

RC: “Scientists often use the term “trick” to refer to a “a good way to deal with a problem”, rather than something that is “secret”, and so there is nothing problematic in this at all.”
The problem happened to be a downward trend in their anaysis.
They didn’t want that. So they found a way to cover it up or “hide it.”
Argue over nouns and adjectives later…this is FRAUD!

Brian B

–If Jones had written “address the divergence problem” instead of “hide the decline” would we be talking about that email at all?–
The problem is the way they addressed the divergence problem was to simply hide the decline with plaster and lath.
“Hide the decline” is much closer to the truth than “address the divergence problem” as the former denotes a knowingly improper method whereas the latter is more closely associated with, you know, science. That’s probably why he used the term he did.

Magnus A

Luboš Motl (14:12:30). Hear-hear!

Peter Dunford

I think Jones really believes that grafting practise is acceptable. That these trees were great thermometers right up until 1960/61. As Tim Osborn said to Michael Mann, “we usually stop the series in 1960 because of the recent non-temperature signal that is superimposed on the tree-ring data that we use.”
I’ve tended to think of these handful of trees (out of hundreds and thousands of samples and probably hundreds of thousands not yet sampled) as “magic” trees. lucky to be found. Trees that can grow in step with the historic temperature “reconstruction” for 120 years, and become a proxy for centuries, even millennia of past temperatures.
Now I find it’s only 80 years tracking the reconstruction, I just don’t know what to think. Oh wait, I do.


Hide is good in tanning, which is what I hope they get.


I typed in fake and found this little snippet From Phil Jones
“I’m away all next week – with Mike. PaleoENSO meeting in Tahiti – you can’t
turn those sorts of meetings down!”
Indeed if only we could all have those sorts of meetings!


“13.7 million British pounds in grants”
So ask yourself … “If data ‘is what it is’, then why is it so important that the graphics show warming?” then repeat “13.7 million pounds in grants”, then ask yourself “If there were no ‘dramatic’ warming, what would be the consequence for them.” then repeat “13.7 million pounds in grants”.
It bothers me that gyrations must be done in order to show warming when if the warming is real, and there, the data would not need so much “massaging” in order to tease that warming out of it. It is like “well, if you turn it sideways, squint, tilt the paper a little this way, close one eye … see that! Warming! Now get us some money so we can ‘study’ it some more.”


The real problem to me with “the divergence problem” is *they don’t actually know what causes it*. So they know it exists post-1960. But because they don’t know what causes it, they have no idea where else in the dendro record it might also exist to one degree or another pre-instrumental record. No idea at all. Just whistling past the graveyard assuring themselves that shadow didn’t really just move.


Obama, Kerry, Pelosi and the EPAs Lisa Jackson are still fighting for climate change AGW. They will not admit defeat or even think this minor technical detail is but a bump in the road on their agenda. They think they have the votes. Let your elected officials in on the facts.


Epic Win for the Hockey Stick Hacker. American Politicians should be quick to drop Micheal Mann as a credible source of climate validity.

Shurley Knot

We here at CA are more than pleased to be able to help such nice persons in these matters.
Pretty big talk for a site with absolutely zero scientific accomplishments. Don’t you guys ever get tired of crying wolf to each other?

Leon Brozyna

Okay, so the instrument record wasn’t grafted (in the precise meaning of the term) onto the proxy reconstruction. But if it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, don’t blame skeptics for calling it a duck. It hardly qualifies as being a specious claim, as asserted by MM. I will be less kind and call it cooking the books to achieve a desired result. And if the comments from critics are sounding harsh these days, that’s what happens when the data is hidden. It might not be pretty, but the true path of real scientific discovery is made up of many false leads and loads of controversy — it’s not a sing-along love fest of consensual mutual admiration.


Also found this little cracker:
Discussing a paper going public;
“We simply want to do our best to help make sure
that the right message is emphasized.”
that was M MANN saying this
these are very eye opening it shows that they are playing with much more that just science


Might as well assume this as a continuation of the leak story. Looks like Revkin has virtually conceded as well… very interesting as they try to run for cover… LOL

grandpa boris

Unless there is an extremely good explanation of how “hide the decline” should be interpreted as anything other than what it sounds like — trying to cook the data to make the recent temperature decline disappear from the chart — this is a damning evidence that should invalidate just about everything Hadley CRU and Mann had published.

The TGIF magazine mentioned is AKA “Investigate”.
IMHO this little magazine deserves kudos. New Zealand based, and always on the money.


Is it me or have the BBC just taken all comments off Richard Blacks site?

gary gulrud

I guess I didn’t have it quite right. Instead of supplying interpolated values for the tree ring series, they use “instrumental data”. Guess I’d better just supply a link cause I was spreading the appended temps myth.
Ok, I’ll bite, instrumental?


Roger Harrabin of the BBC writes
My contacts at the CRU tell me the e-mails are being taken out of context and insist they are part of the normal hurly-burly of conversations between scientists working on some of the most complicated questions of our times.
Maybe Roger Harrabin would like to tell us who these public servants are and why they are talking to the media. Maybe he would like to show us where they are being taken out of context.
The article is a pathetic apology for wrong doing and Mr Harrabin shows his lack of capability and bias to a cause which has the credibilty of a dead nat.
No mention on the BBC news what a surprise.

Paul W

Phil Jones writes that the missing raw CRU data could be reconstructed:
(from file 1255298593.txt)
From: P.Jones@uea.ac.ukTo: “Rick Piltz” <piltz@xxxx.net
Subject: Re: Your comments on the latest CEI/Michaels gambitDate: Sun, 11 Oct 2009 18:03:13 +0100 (BST)Cc: "Phil Jones" <p.jones@uea.ac.uk
, "Ben Santer" <santer1@llnl.gov
Rick, What you've put together seems fine from a quick read. I'm in Lecce inthe heal of Italy till Tuesday. I should be back in the UK byWednesday. The original raw data are not lost either. I could reconstruct what wehad from some DoE reports we published in the mid-1980s. I would startwith the GHCN data. I know that the effort would be a complete wate oftime though. I may get around to it some time. As you've said, thedocumentation of what we've done is all in the literature. I think if it hadn't been this issue, the CEI would have dreamt upsomething else! Cheers Phil
Phil and Ben–
Thanks for writing. I appreciate very much what you're saying.
I'm going to be posting some entries on this matter on the Climate
Science Watch Web site. I'm sure others will weigh in on it in
various venues (Steve Schneider has supplied me with an on-the-record
quote), and I suppose that a more formal response by the relevant
scientists is likely eventually to become part of the EPA docket as
part of their rejection of the CEI petition. But that will drag on,
and meanwhile CEI and Michaels will demagogue their allegations, as
they do with everything. No way to prevent that. But I would like to
expedite documenting some immediate pushback, helping to set the
record straight and put what CEI and Michaels are up to in perspective.
I have taken the liberty of editing what you wrote just a bit (and
adding some possible URL links and writing-out of acronyms), in the
hope that, with your permission and with any revisions or additions
you might care to make, we could post your comments. This requires
no clearance other than you and me. I would draft appropriate text to
provide context. Please take a look at this and RSVP:
Ben's comment:
As I see it, there are two key issues here.
First, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and Pat Michaels
are arguing that Phil Jones and colleagues at the CRU [Climatic
Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, UK ] willfully,
intentionally, and suspiciously "destroyed" some of the raw surface
temperature data used in the construction of the gridded surface
temperature datasets.
Second, the CEI and Pat Michaels contend that the CRU surface
temperature datasets provided the sole basis for IPCC "discernible
human influence" conclusions.
Both of these arguments are incorrect. First, there was no
intentional destruction of the primary source data. I am sure that,
over 20 years ago, the CRU could not have foreseen that the raw
station data might be the subject of legal proceedings by the CEI and
Pat Michaels. Raw data were NOT secretly destroyed to avoid efforts
by other scientists to replicate the CRU and Hadley Centre-based
estimates of global-scale changes in near-surface temperature. In
fact, a key point here is that other groups — primarily at the NCDC
[NOAA National Climatic Data Center] and at GISS [NASA Goddard
Institute for Space Studies], but also in Russia — WERE able to
replicate the major findings of the CRU and UK Hadley Centre groups.
The NCDC and GISS groups performed this replication completely
independently. …


cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war

D Caldwell

geo wrote:
“If Jones had written “address the divergence problem” instead of “hide the decline” would we be talking about that email at all?”
Seems to me that Jones’ email was about making a graphical presentation look the way they wanted it to by employing the “trick” of inserting certain data in the right places. In that context, “hide the decline” would have been exactly what he meant.
“Addressing the divergence problem” would imply a great deal of work and research into exacly why many of the proxies they use do not track with the modern instrumental temp data. That has nothing to do with the above email.
Sorry, geo, no dice.

Remember the Downing Street Memo? Intelligence and facts are being fixed around the policy….

Robert M. (14:15:43) :
What we have here is evidence that the team has engaged in:
1. Conspiracy
2. Government Fraud
3. Computer Fraud
4. Obstruction of Justice
5. Environmental Law Violations (Falsifying lab data pertaining to environmental regulations) (snicker)
6. Suppression of evidence
7. Tampering with evidence
8. Public Corruption
9. Bribery
Does that cover it?”
Even if only half of the items you raise are punishable by criminal sanction (going to the slammer), it explains why the participants in the e-mails are refusing to comment:
“When the Guardian asked Prof Phil Jones at UEA, who features in the correspondence, to verify whether the emails were genuine, he refused to comment.”
“Professor Michael Mann, director of Pennsylvania State University’s Earth System Science Centre and a regular contributor to the popular climate science blog Real Climate, features in many of the email exchanges. He said: “I’m not going to comment on the content of illegally obtained emails.”
Because they have talked to their lawyers and are preparing for criminal prosecution (just kidding…kind of)…
And that’s where they belong…in the slammer!


What’s wrong with grafting data ? They are dealing with dendro data or data from trees. The most common method of propagating trees is which maintains its good characteristics is by grafting the branch into some rubbish but stout base like citrange for citrus. The guys at CRU must be real denro scientist of the widest skills. They have just opened a new branch in horticulture-which is data grafting. As they expand to politics, grafting data could also take another meaning.
It is interesting for MattN to quote as Hunter said “go go go”. If I rememeber correctly it was a Hunter who used to head the IPCC secretariat at around the time of those emails.

Methow Ken

IMO it’s worth mentioning how widespread the coverage and discussion of this hack has already become:
If you throw ”CRU email hack jones” at Google, as of right now it comes back with about 338,000 hits.


RC has completely changed tack. They are allowing all comments, which appear to really lambast them (RC) and all the team. I suppose they know they are on the line and its the only thing Gavin can do to possibly regain some respectability in Science. However I do admire his admissions re emails and willingness now to actually allow dissent albeit under extreme duress? I doubt if they will survive though (the site)


Btw, since one (unproven) theory is that warming causes “the divergence problem”, has any of the dendros (or Steve McI, should “somehow” the warmists not find it a worthy exercise) taken the observed post-1960s divergence and applied it to the MWP in the reconstructions covering that period? Could, in fact, this be a reason why the warmists have consistently underestimated the MWP?

Roger Knights

Shurley Knot (14:52:51) :
“Pretty big talk for a site with absolutely zero scientific accomplishments.”

That’s not a bug, it’s a feature, considering what “scientific accomplishment” amounts to in this field.