Butterfly study: a case study in confirmation bias

Guest post by Marc Hendrickx

Brown Butterfly (Heteronympha merope)

Brown Butterfly (Heteronympha merope)

A little over a month ago reports appeared in the press (eg. Butterflies ‘fly early as planet warms’) that the common Brown Butterfly (Heteronympha merope) was emerging 10 days earlier than it was 60 years ago all due to global warming attributed solely to CO2 emissions. The report was based on a paper published in Biology Letters. The article was titled “Early emergence in a butterfly causally linked to anthropogenic warming” by Michael R. Kearney, Natalie J. Briscoe, David J. Karoly, Warren P. Porter, Melanie Norgate and Paul Sunnucks was published online on 17 March 2010. The abstract can be accessed HERE.

The basis of the study was opportunistically collected observational data of butterfly emergence based on museum records and private data collected between 1941 and 2005 in an area centred around Melbourne, Australia, a city of about 4 million people. No links to the original data or location information of observations were provided in the published article.

The authors gauged the temperature dependence of Heteronympha merope under laboratory conditions and used historical weather data for 1945–2007 (Bureau of Meteorology, Australia) from Laverton (37.868 S, 144.768 E), a “rural” site close to Melbourne, to model the physiological response of H. merope to temperature. The authors claim that this weather station is a ‘high-quality’ site, unaffected by changes in exposure, urbanization, instrumentation, etc., during the study period. Weather records (mean monthly maximum and minimum air temperature, wind speed and cloud cover) were translated into microclimates experienced by immature H. merope using biophysical modelling software (NICHE MAPPER, http://www.zoology.wisc.edu/faculty/Por/Por.html#niche).

The observed temperature trends at Laverton were compared to output from extended climate model simulations for the single-model grid box overlying Melbourne and Laverton. Anthropogenic climate forcing included observed increases in greenhouse gases and estimated variations of anthropogenic aerosols, whereas natural external climate forcing included estimated changes in solar irradiance and volcanic aerosols.

The results are summarised in Figure 1 from the paper

Click to enlarge

click for larger image

I found a number of issues with this paper that pointed to strong confirmation bias and quickly put together a comment that I submitted to Biology Letters on 19 March 2010, just two days after the article was published on line. A copy of the manuscript appears below. I received notification this week that the manuscript was rejected. The reviewer comments make interesting reading (see below) and I thought I would share them with WUWT readers, with a view that the collective brain of WUWT readers would help find the necessary references such that I might be able to re-submit the comment to Biology Letters sometime over the next few weeks. I’d also be interested in hearing the views of the authors and invite them to add their comments.

Comment on Kearney et al., 2010: Early emergence in a butterfly causally linked to anthropogenic warming.
Kearney et al. (2010) examine phenological change in Heteronympha merope (Nymphalidae) to test whether (i) the phenological shift could be explained by air temperature change, and (ii) that the associated change could be attributed to human influences. Kearney et al., contend their results support:

  1. a shift in the mean emergence date for H. merope of 1.6 days per decade over a 65 year period over 12,000 km2,
  2. an increase in local air temperature of 0.14ºC over the same period, and
  3. attribution of the phonological and temperature change to anthropogenic warming, due to greenhouse gas emissions.

There are significant issues with the study outlined below that negate the conclusions:

1. Observed emergence times for H. merope were based on opportunistically collected data over an area of about 12,000 km2 (geographic area-37.60-38.54 Lat, 144.17 to145.48 Long.) centred on the Melbourne CBD. The location of individual observation locations is not provided and there potential for location bias is not discussed. Nor is there a discussion of the potential effect of confounding influences that may affect emergence times. These influences include: human impact on habitat (Kobayashi et al., 2009), pollution, coincidence in emergence of H. merope  with changing emergence patterns of its food stock, food availability and variation over time. These factors may have provided adaptive stresses favouring earlier emergence.

2.The methodology for determining thermal dependence of development rate for eggs, larvae and pupae did not account for other variables that might be a factor in emergence such as: atmospheric CO2 content or affect of atmospheric pollutants such as CO, and ozone common in urban environments. There is a considerable body of evidence demonstrating that effects of elevated CO2 on plants can influence insect herbivore performance (Watt et al. 1995, Bezemer and Jones 1998). Changes in leaf chemistry for instance, such as decreased leaf nitrogen and increased carbohydrate and polyphenolic concentrations at elevated CO2 (Cotrufo et al. 1998, Penuelas and Estiarte 1998), might affect insect development (Slansky 1993) and potentially effect emergence timing. These factors were not taken into consideration and as such the link between emergence timing and temperature cannot be conclusively stated.

3.To assess whether the observed change in climate could be attributed to human influence, the observed April-October mean temperature trend for 1944-2007 for the weather station at Laverton (Bureau of Meteorology-BOM ID 87031) was compared to climate model simulations. Laverton is affected by urbanisation effects from significant changes in land use over the period of observations. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS 2008, ABS 2008a) data show an increase in population in the area from 7854 in 1933 to 132793 in 2008 (ABS, 2008, 2008a). Hence to define the station as “rural” is a misrepresentation. NASA GISTEMP defines the station as “Urban” with a population of 2.7 million (GISTEMP, 2010). A station at the western edge of the study area with records spanning the period 1903 to 1998 shows no substantial warming (Figure 1). This station, Durdidwarrah BOM ID 87021, is located in the Brisbane Ranges National Park in an area that has not experienced significant land use change since the 1870s when dams were constructed (Catrice, 1997). A comparison between Durdidwarrah, Laverton and the Melbourne CBD station (BOM ID 86071) indicates substantial warming over the Melbourne Region. The disparity between the rural station and the two urban stations suggest this warming is due to urbanization, rather than increases in greenhouse gases. The temperature increases due to urbanization are similar to those reported in China (Jones et al., 2008).

References
ABS 2008. Australian Bureau of Statistics 3105.0.65.001 – Australian Historical Population Statistics. www.abs.gov.au (accessed 18 March 2010).
ABS 2008a. Australian Bureau of Statistics 3218.0 Regional Population Growth, Australia. www.abs.gov.au (accessed 18 March 2010).
Bezemer, T. M., & Jones, T. H. 1998 Plant–insect herbivore interactions in elevated atmospheric CO2: quantitative analyses and guild effects. Oikos 82, 212–222.
Catrice D. 1997 Brisbane Ranges National Park. Parks Victoria. Department of Natural Resources and Environment, Melbourne Victoria (accessed 18 March 2010)
Cotrufo, M. F., Ineson, P. and Scott A. 1998 Elevated CO2 reduces the nitrogen concentration of plant tissues. Global Change Biology 4, 43–54
GISTEMP 2010. NASA GISS Surface Temperature Analysis – Station Data ‘Laverton’ GISTEMP ID 501948650000 (http://data.giss.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/gistemp/gistemp_station.py?id=501948650000&data_set=0&num_neighbors=1) (accessed 18 March 2010).
Goverde, M., Erhardt, A., & Niklaus P. A. (2002) In situ development of a satyrid butterfly on calcareous grassland exposed to elevated carbon dioxide. Ecology 83(5), 1399-1411
Jones, P. D., Lister, D. H., and Li Q. (2008), Urbanization effects in large-scale temperature records, with an emphasis on China, J. Geophys. Res., 113, D16122, doi:10.1029/2008JD009916.
Kearney, M. R., Briscoe, N. J., Karoly,  D. J., Porter, W. P., Norgate M. and Sunnucks P. 2010 Early emergence in a butterfly causally linked to anthropogenic warming. Biology Letters (doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2010.0053)
Kobayashi, T., Kitahara, M.,  Suzuki, Y. and Tachikawa, S. 2009. Assessment of the habitat quality of the threatened butterfly, Zizina emelina (Lepidoptera, Lycaenidae) in the agro-ecosystem of Japan and implications for conservation. Transactions of the Lepidopterological Society of Japan 60(1), 25-36.
Penuelas, J., & Estiarte M. 1998 Can elevated CO2 affect secondary metabolism and ecosystem function? Trends in Ecology and Evolution 13, 20–24.
Slansky, F. 1993 Nutritional ecology: the fundamental quest of nutrients. Pages 29–91 in N. E. Stamp and T. M. Casey, editors. Caterpillars: ecological and evolutionary constraints on foraging. Chapman and Hall, New York, New York, USA.
Watt, A. D., Whittaker, J. B. , Docherty, M., Brooks, G., Lindsay, E. and Salt D. T. 1995 The impact of elevated atmospheric CO2 on insect herbivores. Pages 197–217 in R. Harrington and N. E. Stork, editors. Insects in a changing environment. Academic Press, London, UK.

=================================

Rejection Letter received April 20 , 2010. Dear Mr Hendrickx

I am writing to inform you that we have now obtained responses from referees on manuscript RSBL-2010-0263 entitled “Comment on Kearney et al., 2010: Early emergence in a butterfly causally linked to anthropogenic warming.” which you submitted to Biology Letters.
Unfortunately, your manuscript has been rejected following full peer review. Competition for space in Biology Letters is currently very severe, as many more manuscripts are submitted to us than we have space to print. We are therefore only able to publish those that are exceptional and present significant advances of broad interest, and must reject many good manuscripts.
Please find below the comments received from referees concerning your manuscript, not including confidential reports to the Editor. I hope you may find these useful should you wish to submit your manuscript elsewhere.
We are sorry that your manuscript has had an unfavourable outcome, but would like to thank you for offering your work to Biology Letters.
Yours sincerely
Publishing Editor

Editor’s comments:
I am rejecting this in view of the strong criticisms by refs. 1 and 3. If the author can deal with these comments, we could consider this for e-letters.

Reviewer(s)’ Comments to Author:
(MH-I have added comments in italics)
Referee: 1
Comments to the Author(s)
The ms is a critique of a recent publication by Kearney et al in Biology Letters. But I am not convinced by any of the author’s three criticisms of the paper.

The first criticism is that the data presented in Kearney et al does not support evidence of a change in emergence times over the study period. Kearney et al note in their paper that while “the opportunistically collected data probably adds considerable noise to any signal of phenological shift, there is no reason to expect such data to be chronologically biased”. To me, this proviso seems sufficient (MH-this seems difficult to justify as no actual data is presented). For the criticisms in the current ms to be supported, the author should present some evidence that this species or others are shifting their phenology related to some of the other factors suggested, or some evidence that in fact the data does not support a shift in phenology. (MH-Can WUWT readers help out with suggestions?) I also do not know where the author has extracted the “area of 12000 km2” data from (MH-this was based on the geographic coordinates provided in the paper) , or that the data were drawn from “disparate, genetically diverse groups” (MH-This was an assumption I made that there would be significant genetic variation over a large geographic area-the area covered by the study contains a range of geographies and sub-climates that may provide local variation in emergence timing. The absence of location data for observations makes it impossibel to judge the potential affect of geographic bias).

The second criticism is that the physiological model did not account for other possible variables. No, but the fit of observed phenology to that modelled based on climate was extremely close. For this criticism to be justified the author should again present some empirical evidence that the other variables listed influence emergence times in this species or similar species. (MH-Can WUWT readers help out with suggestions?)

I am most concerned about the third criticism levelled by the author, that the temperature increase noted for the meteorological station in the Kearney et al paper is dependent on urbanisation effects. The author here presents data from a rural met station and argues that it has shown no increase in temperature over the same period of time. However, the comparison is not valid, because the regression of temperature against year in Fig 1 for the Durdidwarrah station is run from 1903 to 1998, rather than 1944 to 2007, as in the Kearney et al paper. Examination of the figure shows that had data for the approximate 1940 to 2000 period been analysed for Durdidwarrah, there would have probably been a significant increase in temperature, comparable to that reported for the Laverton station by Kearney et al. In this case it is essential to compare like with like, as the Kearney et al paper is not looking at changes to butterfly phenology since 1903, but from the 1940s. (MH-Durdidwarrah is a good station but suffers from a number of breaks in reporting. The reviewer is correct in arguing that a trend through Durdidwarrah from 1940 through 2000 would yield a decadal trend similar to Laverton, however virtually all this warming occurred in the late 1940s, the trend since 1950 has been flat).
There are a few presentational errors: various spellings of “phenological” and “effect” and “affect”, “Nymphalidae” spelt incorrectly, Fig 1 could be presented more clearly.

Referee: 2
Comments to the Author(s)
In the short intro, the author writes twice “phonological changes”. I guess that would be “phenological changes”? (MH based on this I take it that Ref 2 was generally happy with the manuscript)
Referee: 3
Comments to the Author(s)
The author makes some relevant and potentially relevant points in his comment on Kearney et al., (MH-my bold) but this manuscript does not bring this criticism in a sound way, as it stands. It needs major revision before it may become acceptable for publication.

1)      Point 1 – Hendrickx is criticizing the use of opportunistically collected data. Kearny et al have made the assumption that there is no obvious bias in these data. So, here the author should more convincingly show that there is indeed bias that may impact on the conclusions. It is not enough mentioning the opportunistic nature of the data. This point needs more work. (MH-again any references that demonstrate effect of other influences on emergence appreciated)

2)      Point 2 –CO2: that may be a valid issue that has not been considered as an alternative (or interaction) effect by Kearney. Another relevant paper would be Mevi-Schultz et al. 2003. behave Ecol Sociobiol 54: 36-43 (MH-this appears to be generally supportive of my point 2).

3)      Point 3: I don’t get this point. How can you distinguish between urbanization and an increase in greenhouse gasses per se? What would be the direct and the indirect effects of urbanization for the system considered. Again, the author is not making his point in a clear way (MH-I would have thought the comparison between the three stations clearly demonstrates a UHI effect over the Melbourne region).

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154 thoughts on “Butterfly study: a case study in confirmation bias

  1. And it is not like available food, i.e., the proper plant hosts have anything to do with insect populations.////

  2. Just a preliminary look at Laverton between the raw data and the trend maps of the Australian BOM show some max temps before 1970 as being ‘tampered’ with.
    For instance, the raw shows 1961 and 2009 as both averaging 20.9C but the trend map shows 1961 about 20.5C.
    See raw data at:-
    http://www.bom.gov.au/jsp/ncc/cdio/weatherData/av?p_nccObsCode=36&p_display_type=dataFile&p_startYear=&p_stn_num=087031
    and trend map at:-
    http://reg.bom.gov.au/cgi-bin/climate/hqsites/site_data.cgi?variable=maxT&area=vic&station=087031&period=annual

  3. It is my opinion that those journals that have given themselves over to the AGW belief are beyond the tipping point of recovery. Any refinement and resubmission would be a waste of time. I would love to see the emergence of new journals which observe true scientific objectivity, and then observe the decline of those that are sliding into irrelevancy.

  4. As to point # 3 being able to distinguish between UHI and cyclic warming one has to look at both high and low means (monthy or yearly will do).
    UHI will show as a warming at night (the lows will rise) but the highs will track the same or nearly the same as nearby rural stations.
    Cyclical warming or cooling will couple the trends of highs and lows.
    Simply looking at yearly average temps will not distinguish cause of warming/cooling.

  5. Peculiar, the paper is rejected for not providing proof. The point of the paper was that the original paper being criticized was flawed and did not provide proof for its position. It seems to me that the peer reviewers have reversed the burden of proof from what is proper. All that Hendrickx has to do is show that there is a possibility of bias and simply bad data in the Kearney paper. It is up to Kearney et alia to prove their thesis. Hendrickx is not required to prove a counter-thesis.

  6. First impressions
    1. Max states “The location of individual observation locations is not provided and there potential for location bias is not discussed. Nor is there a discussion of the potential effect of confounding influences that may affect emergence times.”

    The response in defense of the the study is… “The first criticism is that the data presented in Kearney et al does not support evidence of a change in emergence times over the study period. Kearney et al note in their paper that while “the opportunistically collected data probably adds considerable noise to any signal of phenological shift, there is no reason to expect such data to be chronologically biased”. To me, this proviso seems sufficient.” (So the author of the study said all is fine, does not provide the data related to the potential conflict, and admits there may be “considerable noise; and the reviewer accepts this because the author said so?)…” For the criticisms in the current ms to be supported, the author should present some evidence that this species or others are shifting their phenology related to some of the other factors suggested, or some evidence that in fact the data does not support a shift in phenology.”
    (So how would one do this when the details of the “noise” are not revealed?)

    Point 2 “The second criticism is that the physiological model did not account for other possible variables. No, but the fit of observed phenology to that modelled based on climate was extremely close. For this criticism to be justified the author should again present some empirical evidence that the other variables listed influence emergence times in this species or similar species.” (This is tantamount to saying we have one correlation, we know there could be other factors, the study does not address those factors, the one correlation is acceptable and it is up to you to show it is not, even though you do not know the details that would make this possible)

    As to point three, refusing to see and acknowledge that the trend at the less influenced, (more truly rural) site has been flat since 1950 is simply revelatory of the bias of the reviewer.

    Sorry I can not help you, but even if I found 50 peer reviewed studies supporting your crticism, I am afraid the results you present here would be repeated in a different dress.

  7. Even here in the “States” a 10 mile difference with the same elevation has a 2 week difference in biological activity. I live North of a ridge in one micro climate while south of the ridge flowers bloom earlier and trees start leafing out earlier by as much as 14 days. The primary differences are the nearness to an urban area and the width of the valleys. I go to town to know when to expect my flowers to bloom! :-)

  8. Thanks for posting this!
    On the whole Reviewer 3’s comments are not entirely unfavourable, actually somewhat supportive. I believe I can deal with Reviewer 1’s main area of concern by providing additional references that demonstrate potential confounding due to other factors that Kearney at al did not take into account.
    As indicated I hope to re-submit (with your collective help) either as a comment in the journal or as an “e-letter”.

    Note that I can be contacted through the ABC NEWS WATCH BLOG.

  9. @ Steve Schaper,

    I agree with you. That was the first thing that struck me as rather odd. Is not the purpose of the comment to the Kearney paper to say “hey, wait a sec, this doesn’t look quite right and here is why” ? … instead, it is as if one is expected to say “hey, wait a sec, I have a better hypothesis and I have to out prove my hypothesis over the original hypothesis in order for you to take me seriously, and then I must say it in just exactly the manner in which you will accept”

    Something in this process seems very wrong to me.

  10. Having a background in entomology, I can say that cumulative degree-days is a critical factor in development. That is, the accumulated product of temperature and time is highly correlated with developmental and emergence events. If there is warming average temperature during the critical developmental period, then the average date of emergence will change. That says nothing about the reason for the warming. It is pure claptrap to present these observations as confirming anything about the cause of the warming. If the observations are accurate, they possibly do suggest something about the temperature trends in the area. However, it is also well established that such events are highly variable from year to year so a short term trend means nothing in terms of predicting the future. This is the classic mistake of the AGW alarmists- they refuse to think on a geological time scale and try to divine the future based on their limited data set. Overinterpretation of limited data is one of the banes of modern science.

  11. Don’t give up, Marc. (1) Your paper may be publishable elsewhere, (2) The unscientific requirements of Reviewer #1 should be glaringly obvious, even to him, with a little careful expansion of your reasoning. (3) You may have two reviewers on the fence, (4) Reviewer #1 may surprise you because of factors not yet apparent, (5) Is the data subject to FOI? (6) A day of reckoning is coming.

    Be concise. Run the paper past a professional editor before submission. Watch “there” for “their” and other common typos–see the hints of Reviewer #2.

    It’s a good paper, just needs some more work.

  12. Ref1
    Examination of the figure shows that had data for the approximate 1940 to 2000 period been analysed for Durdidwarrah, there would have probably been a significant increase in temperature, comparable to that reported for the Laverton station by Kearney et al. In this case it is essential to compare like with like,>>

    Say what? Durdidwarrah is the purple graph at the bottom of Fig 1? So cut it off at 1944… trend looks darn near flat.

    Ref2
    In the short intro, the author writes twice “phonological changes”. I guess that would be “phenological changes”? (MH based on this I take it that Ref 2 was generally happy with the manuscript)>>

    Sorry, but sounds more sarcastic to me, but I’m reading out of context, etc. Just the impression I got. Sorta like that clown taking Anthony to task for it’s versus its. I am now using itz in protest in all cases.

    Ref3
    Point 3: I don’t get this point. How can you distinguish between urbanization and an increase in greenhouse gasses per se?>>

    OK, now itz clear. You are pushing a rope up a hill. You showed the difference in urban versus rural temp trends and the response is to ask how you can distinguish between them “per se”. You may as well try and show that there is more sunlight in the daytime than at night and he’ll want to know how you can disinguish “per se” if that is what is convenient. Itz not even arm waving, arm waving is more credible.

  13. Local changes in food and pupation, do to night temperature tempering caused by UHI would definatly cause early emergence. What is the problem here? Any good bug chaser or gardener can tell you that. Plants and insects get their life timing clues from length of darkness at night and length of night temperature lows.
    I think the poster should find a better quality axe to grind.

  14. This is ridiculous.

    Laverton is clearly part of Melbourne’s (Australia’s second largest city) urban sprawl – approximately 17kms (10.5 miles) from downtown Melbourne, and one of the country’s fastest growing cities.

    Also, it is at a very low elevation (5 metres), which means that prevailing winds may have a problem in blowing away stale warm air caused by man’s increasing presence in the area.

    For those wanting to know more about Laverton, see: http://www.exploroz.com/Places/53131/VIC/Laverton.aspx

    There is an RAAF weather facility nearby, I was unable to find the data records for it, but these might help if they could be found.

    Are these moths affected by ‘light pollution’, as there must be a lot more of it now than 50 years ago.

    Anyhow, Laverton is very definitely not a rural site, so any temperature increase – if it is real – is almost entirely UHI.

    As for the referees’ comments – this is simply a case of the ‘Old Pals’ Act’ and seeking to protect to believe fellow AGW believers.

  15. Here’s the first line of the Abstract.

    “There is strong correlative evidence that human-induced climate warming is contributing to changes in the timing of natural events.”

    This is a typical paper from the pseudoscience of Conservation Biology, or shall we call it Post-Normal Biology. A quest for predetermined conclusions.

    Note they compare their ‘historical’ evidence to their predictions. Convenient. And no one can check their historical evidence because:

    “No links to the original data or location information of observations were provided in the published article.”

    Funny! But no worries. “Kearney et al note in their paper that while “the opportunistically collected data probably adds considerable noise to any signal of phenological shift, there is no reason to expect such data to be chronologically biased”.

    Really? No reason to expect that? Here’s one simple reason why those butterflies may appear to be emerging earlier. How many observers in 1941 versus 2005? More observers, more chances to record the earlier individuals out.

    This also works for birds. The growing army of birdwatchers – a genuine hockey stick of growth – is finding earlier birds. Who’d a thunk it? And bird feeders have radically changed things for some species and their migration patterns. Many things have.

    Contrary to Green Doomsday, many bird species are at historic highs. More birds means more early birds. Simple chance. And some birds – eg. Canada geese – are now wintering further north because their southern winter grounds are full, and other non-climate related reasons.

    So how has this butterfly population fared since 1941? Population growth? Any changes to pesticide use? Habitat use? Predators? Agricultural effects?

    And back to temperature, UHI ?

    But we must just take their word for this. These people are so good that not only do they know that what they say they saw is not what they predicted it would be, but they also known that this was caused by not just any warming, but AGW.

    That’s remarkable.

  16. This is yet another case where the Laverton, Vic, Australia data is quoted as being for a rural station. It is at an airfield which has been itself heavily built up as an Aviation College. On the south of the airfield is an 8 lane freeway, east is surburban, and north is an industrial area. You can confirm this from a local street directory. The authors perhaps are dependent on information from Prof. David Karoly , who is a very visible presence in Climate Change discusions in Australia. Karoly wrote a piece on Real Climate stating that Laverton was a high quality rural station. I understand that he is a professor of geography.

  17. The following paper provides some evidence for genetic variation, that covers one of reviewer 1’s criticisms…

    Clinal Variation in the Common Brown Butterfly Heteronympha merope merope (Lepidoptera: Satyrinae)

    K Pearse and ND Murray
    Abstract

    Analyses of variation in seven wing pattern characters in H. merope merope females, from 22 sites throughout the range of the subspecies, show that the variation generally has a substantial genetic component. All characters exhibit significant interpopulation variation and one character (S) shows an obvious clinal pattern in a north-south direction. Variation in the total wing phenotype was examined by a multivariate principal component analysis. The first two principal components identified also show a clinal pattern: a north-south cline in component 1 and an east-west cline in component 2. Variation in component 1 is significantly associated with winter humidity and that in the second with yearly rainfall. Because the components cannot be identified simply as size, shape or colour vectors the possible adaptive significance of the results is not clear, although there is some indirect evidence that the pattern of variation is due to natural selection rather than random processes.

    Australian Journal of Zoology 29(4) 631 – 642 (1981) doi:10.1071/ZO9810631

  18. First, this is one of the few “Global warming could…. “news stories that have made it into the MSM since climategate. Before climategate there was a steady stream of perhaps a dozen a week. Since climategate there may have been as few as a dozen of these stories.

    Having said that even I with my abysmal spelling noticed: “The location of individual observation locations is not provided and there potential” and another reviewer spotted another. Whilst spelling shouldn’t matter, it is indicative of a paper that has been carelessly put together and is not fit for publication and having put the hackles up by the detail, the reviewers may just have been looking for reasons to reject it.

  19. My 2 cents: Any claim, from butterfly behavior to tropospheric temperatures, should be simply disregarded if the scientists don’t provide the ability to replicate the results.

  20. I posted a valid automatic email address earlier after a lengthy constructive comment only to get an invalid address sign.

    [Reply: Try again, I checked the spam bin – no post there. ~dbs, mod.]

  21. Having read this article in a little more detail, first let me extend my gratitude to Mr. Hendrix for his work. My only advise for re-submission, or submission to another journal, is to try to answer the referee’s critisims as best you can. For example, providing a reference to a peer-reviewed publication that discusses the differences between UHI and AGW may be useful.

    That said, my honest opinion is these types of efforts would be better served with a some sort of publicly reviewable repository of papers which had, as a requirement to entry into the system, a strict requirement of reproducibility. All data, computer code, etc, needed to reproduce the results must be provided before entry into the system. The original Kearney paper, for example, would not meet the requirements for publication.

    Somewhere along the line, we need to stop complaining about the mess that science is currently in and start cleaning it up.

  22. Spectacular ignorance from the Daily Telegraph http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/dinosaurs/7624014/Dinosaurs-died-from-sudden-temperature-drop-not-comet-strike-scientists-claim.html. Read the last paragraph, “The drop in temperature is thought to have occurred because high levels of CO2 were in the atmosphere which caused global temperatures to rise and polar ice to melt – a phenomenon currently predicted for Earth”.

    Only thing is, there were no polar ice caps 65 million years ago when the dinosaurs were wiped out. The south cap began to form 30 mya, and the north cap anything between 33 and 45 mya. Still, never let the truth get in the way of a chance to mention global warming, eh, Mr Andrew Hough?

  23. Laverton was one of the RAAF’s first airfields built in 1926 and hence the history of weather data collection. It was sold off in 1999 for suburban and industrial development. From 1999 most of the base buildings where used by industry. I understand that there is now a suburb called Williams Landing with 2000 houses and there are plans for a railway station.
    The Melbourne suburbia now extends well beyond Laverton to Werribee.
    There is another RAAF base at Point Cook on the bay only about 5 miles away. There is also a little to the south the Avalon airfield which originally was a training ground for 707 and 747 pilots. It is now Melbourne’s second airport.
    Any temperature measurements in the Laverton/Point Cook/Avalon area could not be representative of a rural area from the mid 1960’s and maybe earlier.
    Changing landscape would also affect the butterflies. I would be surprised that there are any at Laverton now. I am sure that they would not be breeding

  24. “There are significant issues with the study outlined below that negate the conclusions”
    In view of the evidence that you present, “negate” would seem rather too strong. “Cast slight uncertainty on” is perhaps more appropriate given the arguments you present.

    I’ve published comments on papers. It’s a fool’s errand: you are allocated little space; editors are predisposed to reject your work; and the authors of the original manuscript get the last word. I now won’t write comments unless papers are egregiously wrong, interestingly wrong, or erroneously criticise my work. I would usually prefer to write a new paper.

    Merely disagreeing with a paper is not sufficient to write a comment. You need to have evidence that it is wrong, and that evidence may be lacking. A controversial paper can thus provoke new research themes (see for example the neutral theory of biogeography, which is probably largely wrong, but has been very useful in provoking research and honing our understanding).

    Back to your comment. I would largely agree with reviewers: who could disagree with the immense insight provided by reviewer two? You raise potential problems, but fail to demonstrate that they are material problems. The first point, that their might be location biases is weak. You have to demonstrate that such biases are well documented elsewhere. If you can do this you render the authors’ assumption to the contrary premature. Ideally you would go on to demonstrate that there are biases in this data set. Your second argument is also weak. It amounts to “we don’t know everything about xxx therefore we cannot conclude anything”. The effect of temperature on insects is well documented: you need to demonstrate that the other effects might be greater, or at least of the same order of magnitude. To argue that other effect might exist, without quantifying their severity is insufficient. Your third point, is as reviewer one noted, more troublesome. Attribution of the warming to global rather than local effects will always be difficult. This is why meta-analyses that show that most indicators are trending in the direction expected under global warming are so valuable. I doubt you would interest a biological journal in your third point alone.

  25. Hi Marc

    I hope the following is useful to you.

    I clearly remember this paper when it hit the MSM (mainly the ABC via David Karoly) on or about 17th March 2010
    I did some digging at the time and found a preliminary report on the Monash Uni website. I have it on my USB key or you can link HERE for the 7 page pdf.

    I noticed figures a and b are slightly different from that presented in the prelim report.
    Also from the prelim report…

    “Time-of-flight study: Heather Chalinor, Mel Norgate, Maddie Barton
    and many kind volunteers collected >900 butterflies, mostly male, in
    voluntary flight (not disturbed by collectors) from Olinda in the
    Dandenong Ranges in January”.

    I hope this is helpful to you Marc, good luck

  26. Just off the top of my head:

    What about availability of water? Hasn’t Australia been going through some droughts during this time period, with some recent recovery?

    Precipitation would affect both food availability and development of pupae, would it not?

    Another example of the bias in thinking out there, Greenpeace is warning us about the dangers of cloud computing. Seems the iPad is going to eat the world up.

    See http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/press-center/releases2/does-the-ipad-launch-forecast

  27. If anything, the original paper proves beyond doubt that you can get anything published as long as it pays homage to the AGW religion. Al Gore is right in one thing, the science is settled. Too bad it settled before having all the facts.

    I guess the point is to show that temperature affects butterflies but, as has become so common in the field av climate research, it is enough to record a correlation and ignore causation. Climate research has become a junk science without intellectual value, except for a rather small number of skeptics who are forced to walk a really narrow path logic to spread their word. In the long run, this will pay off because resistance makes you work harder.

    We should rephrase the camel and needle’s eye aphorism to:
    “… it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than to publish a paper challenging the anthropogenic global warming theory”

  28. David Karoly is an author. That’s always a sign that the science will be remarkably flaky. Therefore, it’s London to a brick that you’ll uncover a huge error somewhere in their analysis.

  29. This isn’t useful to Marc but maybe of interest to other readers.

    When this butterfly story hit the radio and tv here in Oz, it was heavily promoted by our resident ultra alarmist David Karoly.
    Interestingly however, Karoly wasn’t listed as an author in the preliminary report. It turns out he did the modelling.

    Also, the study received grants from the Australian Research Council.
    Australianclimatemadness.com found the details of the grant.

    Though climate change and it’s effects is mentioned in the project summary, there is no mention of anthropogenic or man made.
    Details of the grant ($240,000 over 3yrs) is HERE

    I have no doubt (nor proof unfortunately) that Karoly would have pushed the anthropogenic angle

  30. Baahumbug…Thanks for the link.
    (http://www.biolsci.monash.edu.au/research/merg/docs/project-update0808.pdf) . I found this part of the study also subject to confirmation bias…

    Wing pattern responses to climate change:
    ‘Have female H. merope genetically adapted their physical characteristics (wing patterns) in response to global warming?’. snip…Vedia is now undertaking comparative data analysis of these characteristics to help determine if wing pattern morphometrics have altered in response to global warming.

  31. Robert Kral (22:39:13) : “Having a background in entomology, I can say that cumulative degree-days is a critical factor in development”

    I’m not an entomologist, but I wonder if cumulative degree-days is a proxy for the aggregate of limiting factors (like exploitable food supply). If so, Marc’s concerns would stand – it would still be necessary to account for confounding factors.

    I would also question possible changes in observation. The earliest seasonal observations would be at the point when the species population is low. Does this mean that the number of human observers has an significant influence on the probability of observation?

    If so, the human population growth in the study area could be a confounding factor (trend towards earlier observation). And the significant world upheaval around the earliest dates of this study could introduce a bias towards late observation.

  32. Marc,
    wish you all the very best, was going to comment but Richard Telford (01:49:31) said it all.
    Ziiex

  33. On another “Butterflies Are Not Climate” note, the small orange Painted Lady butterflies were *late* hatching in this part of Iraq, and the past winter was milder — but there are a kazillion of them out there.

    The camel spider hatch hasn’t happened yet, and usually the babies are underfoot beginning in late March.

  34. The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley (01:08:49) :

    I read from the Telegraph story that ““If they were unable to migrate south they could have been wiped out…”

    What I have to ask is what about those that lived around the tropics?

  35. Marc,

    Keep it simple. Attack the enemy at his weakest point. The only issue you should address is whether any observed or inferred warming can attributed to anthopogenic green house gas emissions. The alternate hypothesis is that the warming is due to natural cycles and/or land use changes. Expanding the comment beyond this opens you up to criticism that can be easily avoided by just not raising the issues in the first place.

  36. @ The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley (01:08:49) :

    I just read that link. Anger doesn’t begin to cover what I felt when I got to the end. My first thought was the journalist was misreading what he’d got from these scientists, but that isn’t enough to explain how wrong the whole thing is. And even if it was the journo getting it wrong, that’s still bad! He’s a science writer, he should at last try to make an effort to understand what he’s writing about!

    Ice-caps melting when there weren’t any ice-caps caused the slow-down of an ocean current that didn’t yet exist in an ocean that wasn’t there… AAAAAAAARGH! This is what passes for science and reporting today! F-…bad word!

  37. Jimbo and AndyS – Re: O/T Telegraph article. Amazing what ‘modern science’ can do when it ignores the facts, isn’t it? O/T or not, thank you!

    If the scientists can blame global warming for disrupting an Atlantic Ocean that didn’t exist yet by way of the Gulf Stream, that didn’t exist yet, with ice caps that didn’t exist yet doesn’t it stand to reason the likely cause has to be Humanity that didn’t exist yet?

    I remain the sceptic about today’s AGW, but with what these scientists have uncovered I am completely convinced that Michael Mann and AGW did indeed lead to the extinction of the dinosaurs. /sarc, but you know that already :D

    Love the blog. Thanks to Anthony and crew (and the amazing people who comment) for being here and keep up the great work here at WUWT!

  38. Jimbo, I wouldn’t take too much notice of the Telegraph article actually (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/dinosaurs/7624014/Dinosaurs-died-from-sudden-temperature-drop-not-comet-strike-scientists-claim.html), as it seems to be completely inaccurate. The author cites a study by a geologist, but it’s not clear if the words are the geologist’s or the author’s. I hope they are the author’s, because there no ice caps, no ice to melt, no Atlantic ocean, so no Atlantic Gulf Stream. If I didn’t know better I’d say it’s an April Fool.

  39. I would guess that the former RAAF air base at Laverton would be the source of historical met records. I flew in there from time to time in 1991 from nearby Point Cook during flying training at 1FTS. It certainly wasnt rural when I was there.

    I think Laverton had closed as an air base by the mid 90s due to encroached urbanisation and noise issues with operating aircraft there.

  40. Back on topic though. Yes, it seems you’re being blown off Marc, just like Ross McKitrick was over the last years in his attempts to find a journal, despite having various editors and referees agree with his work and one case even reject it because it was too simple and obvious to print.

    It’s apparently in the declining Mikes’ Nature to hide the McKitrick (and Hendrickx). You’re in good company in the Land of the Big Cutoff though, at least there is that.

  41. The location of Laverton quoted (37.868 S, 144.768 E) is on the freeway and is not the Laverton weather station.
    I found a map claiming to show the weather station and it appears to be about in the middle of both these two images:

  42. A number of commentators have made good points, especially Al Gored (00:13:07) . Opportunistically collected first flight times would clearly be biased by any trend in the number of people looking for the butterflies, so there is no way to disentagle observer population growth from temperature in this study that I can think of. You should be able to document this.

    The data in this paper do seem especially weak and it is unlikely that it would have been published except for its AGW spin. If there is any validity to their pattern, then I suspect it would be due to UHI (also note the use of ‘their’ and ‘there’ in this sentence – I think I got them right, but even Richard Telford seems to have a problem with ‘their’, so you are in good company).

    Still, as several commentators have noted, you would be fighting an uphill battle and even if you win, all you will have is a technical comment that no one will pay any attention to. You need a better story than the Karoly rubbish if you want to have an impact.

  43. Prevailing wind direction also has an effect; wind from the city center will have higher temps and probably CO2 content than wind from the rural areas. In addition to the heat island effect, I suspect there is also a CO2 island effect.

    All of which pertains to the point that the local conditions may well have advanced hatching times, but the reasons for such changes in conditions are far beyond the reach and purview of the data presented. To prove the GW causality, a similar effect would have to be observed in a hatching site far from any urban center as well.

  44. This is just ridiculous. Springtime jumpstarts, you know, from one day to another.
    Warm winds and sunshine boosts temperatures 5-10-15 degrees in a single day!
    The notion that mere tenths of degrees would make a difference is a tough task to prove.
    Or that the grrenhouse gasses would make a big differense.
    I think to much focus is on mean temperatures, what about the sudden rise in temperature from one day to another? Has that changed?
    Is nighttime cooling significantly lower now than 50 years ago?
    Today, in sweden, I have the first real springday, sun is hot, wind is waarm, and lo!
    butterflies are whimsically searching for flowers. This happened from one day to another.
    I think the cold winds from the arctic that usually travel eastwards over the sea, this winter decided to blow across land, thats what made the harsh winter. The sea is therefor warmer, and is now giving back energy. Regardless of mean temperature variations of tenths of degrees.

  45. Picking the data points off Fig.1a, I dont find a significant correlation between observed emergence-dates and their predicted emergence-dates.
    (But I do not see a predicted emergence date for 1940, which might change things ).

  46. OT (ish)

    Well, we now know that the dinosaur extinction was started by excess CO2 causing colder sea temperatures

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/dinosaurs/7624014/Dinosaurs-died-from-sudden-temperature-drop-not-comet-strike-scientists-claim.html

    “We now believe that they died out gradually and it is very possible that this could have been caused by a series of climatic changes.”
    The drop in temperature is thought to have occurred because high levels of CO2 were in the atmosphere which caused global temperatures to rise and polar ice to melt – a phenomenon currently predicted for Earth. ”

    They just don’t give up do they? As a non-scientist, I now have about as much trust in climate science as I have in the infallibility of the Pope.

  47. OT again but startling:

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100036272/too-many-sceptics-in-bbcs-climate-change-reporting-says-independent-expert/

    ‘Then there’s Fiona Fox’s outrageous claim that the way the BBC could really improve its science coverage is to have fewer sceptics. She says:
    “To have a sceptic or contrarian in every interview is really misleading the public.”’

    I had to stop here and wonder if I’d blinked and missed something in BBC climate coverage – all those malicious sceptics spoiling every interview.

  48. More $ for Nabokov lovers?

    Reading Lolita in Elite Flutterby Land.

    “Some money would still have to be available for other scientists to apply for grants to support individual projects, he said.”
    …-

    “Nobel Prize winner Sir Paul Nurse calls for reform of science funding

    Public funding of science should become more elitist, says the Nobel laureate nominated as next head of Britain’s national academy of science.

    Sir Paul Nurse, named yesterday as the only candidate to succeed Lord Rees of Ludlow as President of the Royal Society, called for reform of the £3.2 billion budget to give more support to the few scientists who can “really move the needle” by making major discoveries.

    In an interview with The Times, the geneticist, who won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2001 and is currently president of the Rockefeller University in New York, said that funders should identify 100 to 150 excellent scientists in all fields, who would get generous long-term support to pursue their interests.

    The amount of funding would vary from field to field, and the elite would be assessed for five to seven years to ensure that they still deserved their status. Some money would still have to be available for other scientists to apply for grants to support individual projects, he said.”

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/science/article7106626.ece

  49. Jordan (03:12:23) : “I’m not an entomologist, but I wonder if cumulative degree-days is a proxy for the aggregate of limiting factors (like exploitable food supply). ”

    Degree days are not a proxy for anything. Temperature has independent effects on insect development. Obviously, other factors also have effects including food and water availability, light/dark cycles, etc. One commenter here had a question about potential light pollution effects, which struck me as insightful. Photoperiod changes can also have strong independent effects on developmental events. The premise of this paper seems quite weak, since it appears that the authors are just reporting a correlation without making much of an attempt to evaluate other variables that might affect the timing of adult emergence. Then, to make matters worse, they jump to an unsupported conclusion about the cause of the observed warming. It might very well be UHI, but from the bug’s perspective temperature is temperature.

  50. I live about 20kms from Laverton and I can tell you, it was once a rural area, which became an air force base from the early 1940s to the early 1990s or so, and since then has seen significant development and is now is part of one the most fastest urban growth corridors in Australia. A perfect case of seeing an increasing warming bias over the past 50 years.

    But hey, why let facts get in the way of a good story!

  51. I thought it somewhat humorous that the first referee decried spelling then spelled impossible as “impossibel”.

  52. Comparative degree days to hatching tells us nothing more than there was a change. It doesn’t tell us what within a dynamic system was the causative agent or agents.

    Hatch time for many organisms are far more plastic than simply degree days. Predation risk plays an essential role mediated by kairomones (chemical odors released by predators and the prey being eaten). The smell of conspecifics (kin) being eaten and/or the smell of predators can accelerate hatching time – significantly. (Yup -the smell is transferred into the egg) Chemical alarm signaling can also change the place and timing of ovipositing.

    Here are some papers showing chemical alarm signaling and its role in hatch timing for dragon flies, trout, daphnia, spiders, and frogs :
    http://www.esajournals.org/doi/abs/10.1890/0012-9658%282006%2987%5B809:TCMPPI%5D2.0.CO%3B2

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/n151246k72342tlh/

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/w7547312266t3113/

    http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/269/1505/2155.abstract

    http://www.pnas.org/content/92/8/3507.full.pdf

  53. I note one place where a spelling correction is called for.
    The location of individual observation locations is not provided and there ////[THEIR??? THE???/ /// potential for location bias is not discussed.

    Sorry that it is such a minor point, for the note is interesting.

    IanM

  54. Re: MarcH (Apr 24 03:07),
    Maybe our understanding of confirmation bias is different to theirs.
    The prelim paper lists email addresses for the authors, maybe fire one off? If not appropriate for you to do that, let me know and I’ll do it. A courteous invite.

    The thing that I don’t understand is what has this study got to do with CO2 emissions? Why did this study need modelling? They didn’t predict future emergence times for these butterflies did they?
    The temps have been what they have been, the butterflies emerged whenever they emerged. A conclusion that they are emerging earlier is sufficient. Why bother with Karoly and modelling of T’s precip etc with CO2 forcing?

    p.s. The 1st reviewer states “The second criticism is that the physiological model did not account for other possible variables. No, but the fit of observed phenology to that modelled based on climate was extremely close.”

    Marc have you had a chance to figure out why fig.B is different in the prelim report? Looks like the model results are different.

  55. Weather affects timing of insect cycles. Ask bats. They are really good at figuring this out, even to the point of waiting to fertilize eggs till more insects are available. The females hold onto sperm they received earlier and then somehow move it to their eggs when the timing is right. Wonder if anyone has studied bats down there? Wonder what the weather cycles were like during the study period in question?

    As far as the comment letter, I would agree. It was poorly written and poorly sited. And if you need this much help finding articles or data to refute this study, maybe you shouldn’t be the one to comment on it?

  56. As well as the many good points above there are further at the New Scientist page on this story at http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18671-global-warming-changes-natural-event-first-causal-link.html

    More evidence on confounding factors can be found in the Kearney et al interim report. (For link and more details see the post by Baahumbug on 24/4 at 02:11:42)

    “Over the past few months, Maddie Barton has been rearing four populations of larvae – Carnarvon Gorge, South Australia (MR and WP), Olinda and Tasmania (HB and LA) under three temperature treatments: 20, 15 and 8°C. Growth rates of each larval stage and overall development rates have been measured and so far, at 20°C, individuals from Carnarvon Gorge and South Australia appear to be developing faster than those originating from the southern end of their range.”

    There is no useful information at all in the Kearney paper on the emergence data that was collected. We don’t know number or frequency of observations, but do they have phenotype information? Could the observed variation in emergence be due to the arrival in Melbourne of a faster developing phenotype and little to do with the change in temperature?

    I agree that a comment in Biology Letters will have little initial impact, but I assume it will also appear in CAB/Scopus etc which may result in your points being considered by subsequent research groups that wish to cite Kearney. More mainstream exposure would be good, similar to that generated by the original paper. Can I suggest that once v2 is published (or rejected) you could send this web site and any associated data to Christopher Booker or James Delingpole at the UK Telegraph to see if they will expose the story. By then the UK election will be over and hopefully the Icelandic volcano will have stopped erupting and they may be looking for some Global warming related news!

  57. Just read Science Daily . An article declares that GW will stop bird migration. As someone else said, “they just won’t stop.”

  58. As someone else noted, I would (a) avoid claiming that the paper is all wrong; (b) focus on one key issue, e.g., actual biologically relevant temperature pattern; and (c) find a really good editor to check spelling and grammar.

    Ultimately, the best counter is to find another first flight data set that does not support the strong AGW hypothesis.

  59. MarcH:
    I had another thought. I recall looking at Mountain Pine Beetle infestation studies and the weakness there was that the current infestations actually were similar to earlier equally severe infestations that happened to be outside of the time period of the study. It may be worthwhile looking at first flight data prior to the start of the period focused on in the original article.

  60. Laverton rural?! I wanted to fall about laughing when I read that. I first lived in Melbourne in 1984. It has grown hugely since then. Laverton is out near Altona and by the Prince’s Freeway to Geelong. Don’t tell me that the huge sprawl of Melbourne and the increasing use of cars and air-conditioners hasn’t had an effect on local temperatures.

  61. On a separate note: Please consider posting on the dinosaur study reported on in the Telegraph and mentioned several times above. I was a dinosaur enthusiast as a young man, and I realize this is off-topic for the thread, but just a couple of points on that story:
    – I believe there was an Atlantic Ocean by the end of the Age of Dinosaurs, as Pangea started breaking up during the Jurassic – could be wrong here?
    – I also seem to remember there was strong evidence that the dinosaurs were warm-blooded… but no proof to point to myself.
    Sorry to be OT on that.

  62. I followed the link to the Telegraph article on dinosaur extinction, and was hugely amused by the lead paragraph:

    “British researchers claim that a sudden plummeting in the sea temperature of 16F (9C) more than 137 million years ago was the first step towards their eventual road to extinction.

    Whose extinction? Judging by the paragraph, British researchers are on their eventual road to extinction. Perhaps not a bad idea.

  63. I looked at the Google maps for this area and it is mostly civilized. It is urban or farmland. I’m not sure that trying to find a rural temperature history will be useful if the butterflies have become urbanized. Isn’t nice how the paper is completely useless without this information.

    At one time I needed to measure vapor transport through polymers. From this I became aware of how insects are completely controlled by humidity. You do not see mosquitoes out in the sunshine in the middle of the day because they will rapidly dry out. They come out in the evening as the temperature drops and the r.h. goes up. This is also true for the butterflies.
    http://users.sa.chariot.net.au/~erg/merope_ds.htm

    If irrigation has increased in the study area, I would expect the insects would have done better from the higher humidity
    Here is a graph showing a decreased trend in pan evaporation:

    If temperatures have gone up from land use change and evaporation has gone down, the humidity must have gone up.
    I have not found historical trends for irrigation near Melbourne.

  64. “The authors claim that this weather station is a ‘high-quality’ site, unaffected by changes in exposure, urbanization, instrumentation, etc., during the study period.”

    Wow, Anthony, your surfacestations work continues to have impact. The authors of this Aussie paper at least had to address the quality of the station and the UHI affect, even if they are only paying lipservice.

  65. Seems completely plausible that UHI could be a significant factor in emergence times. IMHO, the critical issue is that this is based on localized anthropogenic warming; whatever your belief about AGW, its proof is clearly outside the scope of this study.

  66. The problem here is proof of anything. One does not prove one falsifies. I think you need to demonstrate the assumed correlations simply do not exist because of the heat island effect that you point out etc. If something is based on an assumption that is inductive logic. The appropriate logic of science is deductive. If something is based on an assumption, something like the assumption of representativeness, one can just a rightly assume non representativeness. This logic then demands the representativeness or non rep. must be demonstrated and properly identified. It would seem to me that the hypotheses that CO2 driven warming is demonstrated by early hatching. It would seem that the increased temperatures over the period is important to that conclusion. The hypothesis that this temperature rise is due only to CO2, has been clearly demonstrated false.

    Popper’s theory of demarcation may be articulated as follows: where a ‘basic statement’ is to be understood as a particular observation-report, then we may say that a theory is scientific if and only if it divides the class of basic statements into the following two non-empty sub-classes: (a) the class of all those basic statements with which it is inconsistent, or which it prohibits—this is the class of its potential falsifiers (i.e., those statements which, if true, falsify the whole theory), and (b) the class of those basic statements with which it is consistent, or which it permits (i.e., those statements which, if true, corroborate it, or bear it out).

  67. From a pure statistics point oview, looking at the charts there are not enough data points to say anything with classical statistical significance about any of this. The bare minimum for a student’s T distribution (approximating a normal distribution) for statistical significance testing on say a regression analysis, would be 30 data points which would still give a high potential variation due to sample size error alone, even in a relatively loose 90% confidence interval. And, of course, there are the issues of sampling error, equipment error, implied cause and effect, etc. Scatter diagrams such as above have no meaning. This is poor science (no science) and merely another case of the “band wagon effect” with someone looking to get brownie points from the green crowd by piling on to the band wagon.

  68. I want to start with a comment on the title: Early emergence in a butterfly causally linked to anthropogenic warming.

    The assumption is the warming is anthropogenic. I’ll wager a Trillion Zimbabwean dollars there is nothing in the body of the report that shows the warming is anthropogenic. It just assumes it is.

  69. “Referee 3, Point 3: I don’t get this point. How can you distinguish between urbanization and an increase in greenhouse gasses per se? What would be the direct and the indirect effects of urbanization for the system considered. Again, the author is not making his point in a clear way (MH-I would have thought the comparison between the three stations clearly demonstrates a UHI effect over the Melbourne region).”

    I believe what is meant by this objection is: The UHI effect could in theory result from a greater concentration of CO2, rather than from the presence of concrete, cars, air conditioners, heating furnaces, and from land-use changes. I believe I’ve seen this before in another WUWT post, that some warmists are actually attributing UHI to CO2concentration rather than to these other obvious factors.

    What the referee needs is an analysis proving the specific causes of UHI.

  70. Anyway it is not the prerogative of climate change researchers only to be slightly confused but still I believe here is another one who has got things “upside down”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/dinosaurs/7624014/Dinosaurs-died-from-sudden-temperature-drop-not-comet-strike-scientists-claim.html

    “The drop in temperature is thought to have occurred because high levels of CO2 were in the atmosphere which caused global temperatures to rise and polar ice to melt – a phenomenon currently predicted for Earth.”

    Did he mean this or was he wrongly quoted? Whatever happend surely AGW was not to blame.

  71. Just offhand, I think insects respond to other things far more than they do temperature. Food and water comes first to mind.

    And here I though it was the duty of the scientists involved in the research to prove their case, not the other way around. If so, can’t anybody just write up any nutty conclusion and say prove this wrong. Seems like this is what happens with the alarmist hoaxers. Is it a competition just for grant money, and no longer truth?

    So there …

  72. Jim G (09:25:38) :

    I would spend a little more time studying statistics before proclaiming how many observations are necessary for statistical significance. Thirty data points is not the bare minimum for testing the significance of a slope with the t-distribution: the minimum is three. Yes with only three datapoints, confidence intervals are wide etc, and nobody would take you seriously.
    I suspect what you are misremembering, is that with about 30 degrees of freedom, the normal distribution is a satisfactory approximation of a t-distribution .

  73. Marc,

    re: 3) Point 3: I don’t get this point. How can you distinguish between urbanization and an increase in greenhouse gasses per se? What would be the direct and the indirect effects of urbanization for the system considered. Again, the author is not making his point in a clear way (MH-I would have thought the comparison between the three stations clearly demonstrates a UHI effect over the Melbourne region).

    These guys are biologists, not climate scientists, writing and working outside their own field when it gets to UHI. You might need to explain the difference between “anthropogenic climate change” caused by land use changes, urbanization, deforestation, agriculture, etc., narrowly defined UHI and then “GHG-caused climate change” . Some folks here at WUWT understand the differences, but I obviously this reviewer hasn’t a clue – but he does have a point!

  74. Steve Schaper (22:05:11) :

    “Peculiar, the paper is rejected for not providing proof. The point of the paper was that the original paper being criticized was flawed and did not provide proof for its position. It seems to me that the peer reviewers have reversed the burden of proof from what is proper. All that Hendrickx has to do is show that there is a possibility of bias and simply bad data in the Kearney paper. It is up to Kearney et alia to prove their thesis. Hendrickx is not required to prove a counter-thesis.”

    This, and other comments further on, highlight the misunderstanding
    of science within the sceptic movement. Whether you do an original
    article, a reply/refutation or a review; the burden of proof is definitely
    on you; in fact the acceptance of this burden and attempt to provide
    better proof or at least an equally good counter-explanation is the
    criteria for participation. Although MH could with time probably do
    an interesting article, what he offered in his reply letter were very
    generic, rather weak arguments. The referees did right.

  75. I’m suspicious of the conclusions drawn in this paper. I’ve observed, collected, and raised butterflies and moths my entire life as a hobby. Emergence times are not tied to a 1C degree of temperature change. This would be true if the daily temperature cycle never varied by more than a few tenths of a degree.

    Instead I have observed that emergence is tied to periods of average to above average temperatures. I used to live in Fremont, California and rode my bike out to Coyote Hills Park all the time. There was a population of Anise Swallowtails out there. The earliest emergence I observed was March and the latest was June. It depended on how cold and wet the Spring was.

    I’ve raised Ceanothus silk moths for over ten years. The adults have an uncanny ability to hatch on the first or second day of a warm spell which could be from late March to early May.

    I’ve found that the Ceanothus larva are affected by temperature. A 5 C degree increase in temperature inside the house where I keep them can speed their development up by a week. A 1 C degree increase would make little measurable difference, maybe a day or so. Larvae from the same female can end up with as much as a two week spread in development time under identical conditions. The development time data is pretty noisy.

    The idea that anyone can claim adult emergence is occurring 10 days earlier due to a 1 C average temperature increase is very suspicious to me.

  76. Marc, since you had questions about the paper did you bother to contact the authors?

    Steve Schaper (22:05:11) : “Peculiar, the paper is rejected for not providing proof. The point of the paper was that the original paper being criticized was flawed and did not provide proof for its position. It seems to me that the peer reviewers have reversed the burden of proof from what is proper.”

    There is no such thing as proof in the empirical sciences. The papers claims to “provide evidence for phenological shifts in the butterfly Heteronympha merope in response to regional warming in the southeast Australian city of Melbourne.” (See the abstract.)

    If Marc Hendrickx wants to get something published on this he either needs to find a flaw in this paper or provide evidence of his own. Every scientist reading the paper knows it could happen that confounding processes that the authors did not account for could undermine the hypothesis. To get published Marc needs to actually find such evidence.

  77. Marc,

    3) Point 3: I don’t get this point. How can you distinguish between urbanization and an increase in greenhouse gasses per se? What would be the direct and the indirect effects of urbanization for the system considered. Again, the author is not making his point in a clear way (MH-I would have thought the comparison between the three stations clearly demonstrates a UHI effect over the Melbourne region).

    I don’t have much time today, so this may have been addressed already.
    Regardless, I agree with this critique per se. If the heating is due to co2 or UHI is moot. IMHO, you need elaborate that warming from UHI is a localized event. If the habitat of the insect is entirely within the confines of the area affected by UHI (12,000 sq km2), and if in fact warming does cause earlier emergence, then the authors have a valid point. If the habitat extends beyond the UHI effect (which I imagine it does), then rephrase your criticism as to the extent of the data. In other words, attack the title and premise of the original article, ie. the title and premise of the article should be changed to “Butterfly emergence affected by UHI”. If you know the range of the species, show a trend for a real rural station in that area.

    And your response to commenter 3 could be similar to: The geograpical coordinates given by authors includes an area of 12,000 sq km2. However the UHI may extend to only XX area, as the outlying stations which I’ve (Marc) included do not show warming. Therefore, there is no data to support the authors contention that anthropogenic climate forcing is affecting this species in the greater part of their range.

    Also, IMHO, nutrition is probably the actual causal mechanism. Better fed specimen of most species develop faster, as in the onset of the menstrual cycle in women occurs sooner with better nutritiion. One insect example:

    Effects of elevated CO2 on development and larval food-plant preference in the butterfly Coenonympha pamphilus (Lepidoptera, Satyridae)
    Marcel Goverde and Andreas Erhardt
    Department of Integrative Biology, Section of Conservation Biology, University of Basel, St. Johanns-Vorstadt 10, CH-4056 Basel, Switzerland
    Correspondence to Marcel Goverde, Melchtalstrasse 21, CH-4102 Binningen, tel. +41 (0)61 422 03 55, fax +41 (0)61 422 03 57, e-mail: goverde@mail.com
    Copyright Blackwell Publishing Ltd
    KEYWORDS
    elevated carbon dioxide • plant–insect interactions • nutrient availability
    Abstract

    The objective of this study was to determine how increasing atmospheric CO2 change plant tissue quality in four native grassland grass species (Agrostis stolonifera, Anthoxanthum odoratum, Festuca rubra, Poa pratensis) which are all larval food-plants of Coenonympha pamphilus (Lepidoptera, Satyridae). We assessed the effect of these changes on the performance and larval food-plant preference of C. pamphilus in a greenhouse experiment. Furthermore, we tested the interactive effects of elevated CO2 and soil nutritional availability in F. rubra and its effect an larval development of C. pamphilus. In general, elevated CO2 decreased leaf water concentration, nitrogen concentration and specific leaf area (SLA), while leaf starch concentration was increased in all grass species. A species-specific reaction to elevated CO2 was only found for foliar starch concentration. P. pratensis did not increase its starch concentration under elevated CO2 conditions, whereas the other three species did. Fertilisation, investigated only for F. rubra, increased leaf nitrogen concentration and amplified the CO2-induced decrease in leaf nitrogen. Development time of C. pamphilus was on the average prolonged by two days under elevated CO2 and the prolongation differed from 0.7 to 5.3 days among food-plant species. Pupal fresh weight differed marginally between CO2 treatments. Fertilisation of the larval food-plant F. rubra shortened development time by one day and significantly increased pupal and adult fresh weights. C. pamphilus larvae showed a clear food-plant preference among grass species at the age of 36 h or older. Additionally, a change of food-plant preference under elevated CO2 was found. Larvae at ambient CO2 preferred Agrostis stolonifera and F. rubra, while under elevated CO2Anthoxanthum odoratum and P. pratensis were preferred. The present study demonstrates that larval development of C. pamphilus is affected by food-plant species and CO2 induced changes in foliar chemistry. Although we found some species-specific reactions to elevated CO2 for foliar chemistry, no such CO2 by species interaction was found for insect development. The change in food-plant preference of larvae under elevated CO2 implies potential changes in selection pressure for grass species and might therefore affect evolutionary process.

    The authors keywords and citations will give you a starting point to continue your pursuit.

    Occasionally herbivores have shown reduced growth (Fajer et al., 1989). In other experiments with lepidopterans, Fajer et al. documented that insect weight gain was positively correlated and consumption was negatively correlated with foliar nitrogen concentration (Fajer et al., 1989). They also found that insects that feed on plants grown in elevated CO2 have a reduced efficiency of conversion of ingested food to insect tissue. Thus, larvae could be prevented from completing development in climatically-limited environments with short growing seasons, and have increased exposure to their natural enemies (Fajer, 1989; Caulfield and Bunce, 1994), or both.
    Fajer ED. 1989. The effects of enriched carbon dioxide atmospheres on plant–insect herbivore interactions: growth responses of larvae of the specialist butterfly, Junonia coenia (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae). Oecologia 81, 514–520.[@ DigiTop]

    Fajer ED, Bowers MD, Bazzaz FA. 1989. The effects of enriched carbon dioxide atmospheres on plant–insect herbivore interactions. Science 243, 1198–1200

    Lastly, and this is my take, what is the problem with emerging earlier? Who gives a rat’s ***.

  78. I second the comment by TA (09:53:38). Include a sentence or two explaining the nature of the UHI effect, to differentiate it from warming from CO2. You referenced the Jones China paper on this subject, don’t expect the reviewer to examine your references.

    Also include a satellite photograph or other means of proving the non-rural nature of the Laverton station. In fact, maybe we could get a reader in the Melbourne area to drive through Laverton with one of those UHI measurement kits to prove the point (ha!).

    Change the station temperature comparison graph to take out the trend lines. They’re not needed to make the point, because the human eye can easily see that the Melbourne and Laverton stations have an upward trend while the rural station does not (except for the short period in the 40s). However, you’ll have to explain to the editor why you took the trend lines out: it is that they were misleading, because the two urban stations show linear trends in warming, while the rural station shows a rapid change in the 40s followed by no change since then.

    Ask why the study only goes back to 1941, which coincidentally is roughly the year the warming trend began. Any study like this should have a “baseline”, showing that changes did not occur while temperatures were constant, but only began once temperatures started going up. If data on butterfly emergence prior to 1941 exists, it should have been included in the original study.

    While your points in #2 are good, they are difficult to substantiate without direct evidence contradicting the original study. And from the comments by entomologists here, it seems the consensus (if I dare use that word!) is that cumulative temperature is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, drivers of butterfly emergence dates. You may very well have hit on some good points regarding other possible factors, in my view it will be difficult, without hard evidence, to convince the editors that the original study was flawed because of its focus on the single issue of temperature.

    Your points in #1 and #3 are by far the strongest, so in the revision I would focus on those. In fact, I don’t think #1 and #3 are separate issues. For the revision, you should combine those points together to make the argument stronger. Focus on the fact that, if the authors are correct about the influence of temperature on emergence dates, their conclusions are flawed because (1) they don’t present specific sampling locations for the emergence data, and (2) they don’t account for the huge effect of UHI.

    The lack of specific locations for the butterfly emergence data is a big problem with the original study. Even if the primary driver is temperature change, the UHI effect depends very strongly on location, while the overall “global warming” trend does not. So to rule out UHI, the butterfly data must be shown as a function of sampling location, not just time. There are many ways this could be presented: for example, emergence dates by year as a function of distance from the Melbourne city center.

    We have good proof that local variations in temperature due to UHI completely swamp whatever underlying signal is coming from global temperature changes. You can more conclusively demonstrate that the original study’s use of the Laverton station was severely flawed — so flawed, in fact, as to negate their conclusions, because without location evidence to the contrary, the temperature changes in the area sampled likely come from UHI, not from global warming. Hammer home the point that specific emergence locations are needed because of the strong dependence of local temperature on the UHI effect.

  79. Ian George (21:56:59)

    Just a preliminary look at Laverton between the raw data and the trend maps of the Australian BOM show some max temps before 1970 as being ‘tampered’ with.

    For instance, the raw shows 1961 and 2009 as both averaging 20.9C but the trend map shows 1961 about 20.5C.

    See raw data at:-
    http://www.bom.gov.au/jsp/ncc/cdio/weatherData/av?p_nccObsCode=36&p_display_type=dataFile&p_startYear=&p_stn_num=087031
    and trend map at:-
    http://reg.bom.gov.au/cgi-bin/climate/hqsites/site_data.cgi?variable=maxT&area=vic&station=087031&period=annual

    It’s worse than that. Although the graph shows max temps back to 1910, the data only starts in 1944. Here’s why:

    Hide the decline …

    w.

  80. Nobody seems to notice that referee #1 suggests correcting the
    trend line for the rural station – I am refering to the graph of MH –
    so that all 3 stations are compared fin the same period. In this was
    done, it seems we would have three wqarming trends, some of it
    could be UHI, but some would have to be, well…

  81. Also, it appears that they have used the data from the graph (which shows a greater temperature increase from 1944-2007) rather than from the adjusted data … bad scientists, no cookies.

  82. Robert Kral says: “Degree days are not a proxy for anything. Temperature has independent effects on insect development.”

    The reason I asked was because I understand caterpillars spend some time munching on leaves. If the butterflies in this study do the same, there is a development stage before emerging as butterflies which could well involve more factors than temperature, and a simple measure of degree-days. No?

  83. Chuck (11:17:18) :

    I’m suspicious of the conclusions drawn in this paper. I’ve observed, collected, and raised butterflies and moths my entire life as a hobby. Emergence times are not tied to a 1C degree of temperature change. This would be true if the daily temperature cycle never varied by more than a few tenths of a degree.

    You are right that plants/animals don’t emerge or die off because
    of long term averages. But does not a clear change in average yearly
    temp. imply that the triggering warm spells would come earlier, on an
    average.

  84. How come that if this very old and decidedly unscientific bozo can understand Bertrand Russell’s Flying Teapot Hypothesis, young men who cannot comprehend it come to get employed as editors of serious scientific publications? If I postulate the existence of the teapot, and perhaps its quite overwhelming influence on the emergence of Australian butterflies, it is up to me to demonstrate that it must be so. I am no scientist and nor is anyone else who cannot grasp this elementary principle.

  85. The abstract makes claims about anthropogenic warming, not CO2-induced warming. UHI’s and GHG’s are both causes of anthropogenic warming, so discussion of UHI’s is only useful if you can prove that any UHI influences the recorded temperature in a small section of the butterfly study area.

    Opportunistic collection of data over a variable wide region with increase the noise in the data, but not necessarily impart a bias. However, as the road system has improved, it is possible that this has increased access to the warmer areas of the study region, causing more butterflies to be collected from warmer areas. This could be important near the ocean.

    The DECADAL averages in Figure 1a could hide a multitude of sins. If earlier appearance of butterflies is due to more rapid maturation in warmer surroundings, then ANNUAL changes in appearance should show correlation with ANNUAL changes in temperature. This is best explored with the correlation coefficient. Other environmental factors that might influence butterfly hatching (genetic drift, predator changes, land-use changes) will produce gradual changes like those seen in Figure 1a.

    There is a thermodynamic reason for plotting 1/development time vs temperature in Figure 1c, but this makes it very difficult to convert temperature change into a change in development time. The difference between 0.02 and 0.03 on the vertical scale (temperature ca 5 degC) is the difference between 50 and 33 days, while the difference between 0.10 and 0.11 (temperature ca 20 degC) is 10 days and 9 days. This makes it clear that butterflies mature mostly during the warmer daytime than during the cool night. So it would make sense to consider the relationship between the daily maximum temperature and butterfly appearance rather than the daily average temperature. GHG’s and UHI’s are supposed to have a bigger impact on minimum temperatures.

  86. In the document linked to by Baahumbug they say:
    “Our prediction of what should have happened based on Nat’s data and the monthly climate data (air temp,cloud, wind speed,humidity) for those years runs right through the middle! ”
    So their prediction equation was (is?) not soley based on temperature.
    They also appear to have tried two different temperature datasets and come up with two different sets of predictions.
    Given a permutations of months and the many met. variables that could be included (and a choice of stations) it would, of course, be hard not to get a bit of a match to 14 data points! So we really need to see a copy of the paper.

  87. “For this criticism to be justified the author should again present some empirical evidence that the other variables listed influence emergence times in this species or similar species. (MH-Can WUWT readers help out with suggestions?)”

    I see introduced species of grasses that are more suited to the climate, and are regularly watered.

    Calculate the Lawn density in the urban environment vs. the rural. People sculpt lawns, feed them and surround them by flower beds. Find the bedding season; you get that information form the gardening centers. Cynodon dactylon is grown in hot salty soils and is dinner for Heteronympha merope. Have a look and see what type of grasses are sold in Melbourne. My guess is that you will have had the introduction of non-native species in the 70-‘s and especially in the late80’s and early 90’s

    Pennisetum clandestinum , most often called kikuyu grass, was introduced to Australia and grows much better than native species.

    Kentucky blue grass,Poa pratensis, was also introduced and is essentially caterpillar rocket fuel.

    The standard grass, used for lawns in Melbourne, is Couch grass. Couch grass is of course a general purpose food for Butterfly larvae,

    http://www.hgturf.com.au/inl_4seasons.html

  88. It is my observation that all of these “AGW is causing earlier (fill the blank)” studies are near or in large cities.

    The warmists are creating a huge mess for themselves. 20 years of papers will need to be thrown out or be heavily revised when this house-of-cards crashes. Careers will end.

  89. @ Richard Hill (00:17:32) :

    This is yet another case where the Laverton, Vic, Australia data is quoted as being for a rural station. It is at an airfield which has been itself heavily built up as an Aviation College. On the south of the airfield is an 8 lane freeway, east is surburban [sic], and north is an industrial area. You can confirm this from a local street directory. The authors perhaps are dependent on information from Prof. David Karoly , who is a very visible presence in Climate Change discusions [sic] in Australia. Karoly wrote a piece on Real Climate stating that Laverton was a high quality rural station. I understand that he is a professor of geography.

    Wikipedia states:

    Laverton is a suburb in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 17 km south-west from Melbourne’s central business district.

    Wow – barely 10 miles from the central Melbourne business district.

    The immediate town to the WSW from Laverton is Werribee, and Wiki has this to say:

    Werribee is a city in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 32 km south-west from Melbourne’s central business district. Its Local Government Area is the City of Wyndham. At the 2006 Census, Werribee had a population of 36,641. Statistically, Werribee is considered part of Greater Melbourne.

    Obviously is Werribee is considered part of Greater Melbourne, then Laverton, just over half the distance from the central Melbourne business district cannot be a rural station, much less a high quality one. Karoly is an idiot.

    I imagine part of THIS is what is used to delineate Laverton as “high quality” for the warmers (Wiki again):

    At the 2006 Census, Laverton had a population of 4508…

    Population

    1891: 156 people
    1933: 411
    1947: 390 (plus 525 in RAAF base)
    1961: 4,346

    With the population increasing by only 162 over 45 years, the warmers salivate over an urbanized site 17 km from a central downtown area like this. There probably aren’t many in the world as choice (based solely on population numbers) as Laverton. Looking down a table of population over time, Laverton must be a gold mine for them. Claiming it as a rural site, it would argue well that even rural sites have had large temperature increases.

    I agree with Marc H that reviewer #1 had a good point. This is very much the same point Anthony made recently about longer time periods having lower linear trends.

    But with the population being only 390 in 1947 and then jumped up 6-fold by 1961 – only 14 years – then 1961 should be the basis for a trend line, since the 1961-2006 period is the stable period. Reviewer #1 chooses the low point as a starting point – but one when the population WAS indicative of a rural site.

    Now, looking at the Greater Melbourne area (Wiki again):

    As of late 2009, the greater geographical area had an approximate population of 4 million.

    Christ! It’s half the size of the Chicago population! And Laverton is only 17 km from its center – some “quality rural site”! Yeah, quality, as in if you just look at tables it looks great!

    Melbourne population by year
    1836 177
    1854 123,000 (gold rush)
    1890 490,000 (property boom)
    1930 1,000,000
    1956 1,500,000
    1981 2,806,000
    1991 3,156,700 (economic slump)
    2001 3,366,542
    2010 4,000,000[1]

    So, the population in 1940 was about 1,150,000. (There was a large influx of foreigners after WWII, which certainly made the 1945-1956 growth more than the 1930-1940 growth, so the curve is more parabolic from 1930-1956 than linear.)

    This means the population nearly quadrupled of Greater Melbourne from 1940 to 2010. And even though the population of Laverton per se was static after 1961, the areas surrounding it more than tripled. Werribee, for example went from 3,348 in 1940 to 36,641 in 2006, an 11-fold jump.

    Now, for the coupe de grace:
    I am TRYING to pop in an image labeled “Melbourne from Laverton Station” here:

    If it did not display, please go to http://www.panoramio.com/photo/33826785

    Nope, it doesn’t look like it worked. But DO go to the link and look at that view.

    From the image is CLEAR that Laverton is an URBAN location, despite the population stability of Laverton. It looks like the view of Chicago from Oak Park, which is about 15 km from Chicago’s Loop. No one would ever confuse Oak Park with a rural site. Another close-in, low population, town is Bratenahl, Ohio, 6km from dowtown Cleveland (metropolitan pop. 2,600,000). With its very stable population of 1,300, one might argue it is rural. Nothing could be further from the truth. MANY other low-population close-in suburbs exist around the world. Looking only at population is a VERY POOR way to designate a site as “rural.”

    Conclusion: Laverton is not rural. With that view and an 8-lane freeway bisecting the town, who is trying to kid whom?

    Conclusion: Laverton’s population growth since 1940 is over 6-fold.

    Conclusion: Laverton is not and cannot BE a “quality rural station.” It might be a nugget of gold for warmers when taken from a table that would show its growth from 1961 to 2006 was almost zero. In ANY other sense, Laverton is an URBAN site.

    [Can anyone tell me why the tool doesn’t work for me?]

  90. Oops!

    Conclusion: Laverton’s population growth since 1940 is over 6-fold. –>> Conclusion: Laverton’s population growth since 1940 is over 11-fold.

  91. OK, here’s the fatal flaw in their study. First, the data:

    Year, Temperature, Emergence
    1945, 11.13, 11.61
    1950, 11.14, 11.28
    1955, 11.37, 11.64
    1960, 11.26, 11.38
    1965, 11.73, 11.51
    1970, 11.3, 11.22
    1975, 11.65, 11.43
    1980, 11.65, 11.35
    1985, 11.59, 11.21
    1990, 11.88, 10.97
    1995, 11.67, 11.36
    2000, 11.66, 11.3
    2005, 12.3, 11.23

    The fatal flaw is there is no statistically significant correlation between the two. Here’s the statistics:

    Trend: -0.23 emergence months per degree warmer
    Std Err Trend: ±0.15
    R^2: 0.18
    F statistic: 2.39
    Deg. Freedom: 11.00

    From this, we can calculate that the trend is not statistically different from zero (p=0.15), and the r^2 is not significant (p=0.14).

    In other words, there is no statistically significant relationship between the temperature data and the emergence data.

    Q.E.D.

  92. I also note that if they had used the BOM adjusted data rather than the unadjusted data, the situation is much worse, viz:

    Trend: -0.17 emergence months per degree warmer
    Std Err Trend: 0.15
    R^2: 0.10
    F statistic: 1.28
    Deg. Freedom: 11.00
    P value trend: 0.28
    P value r^2: 0.32

    Gotta love these AGW folks. When the adjusted data suits their case (which is most of the time) they use that. When it doesn’t suit their case, they use the unadjusted data.

  93. From the discussion section of the paper:
    “The observed shift in air temperature of 0.148C per decade in the vicinity of Melbourne can very likely be explained through the effects of greenhouse gases emitted by humans (figure 1d). Our analysis thus provides direct causal linkages between the emission of greenhouse gases by humans, a shift in local air temperature, and the physiological response of a butterfly resulting in earlier spring emergence.”

    From an ABC (Australian ABC) interview: http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2010/s2848336.htm

    SIMON LAUDER (reporter) : Climate modelling for the study was done by Doctor David Karoly from the university’s school of earth sciences. Doctor Karoly says the change the Common Brown butterfly has experienced is an example of seasonal shift due to climate change.

    DAVID KAROLY: This is the first time that we’ve been able to link the change in a natural system like a butterfly to regional warming and then link that regional warming to increases in green house gases due to human activity.

    Thanks for comments so far. My main point of contention has to do with attribution of warming to greenhouse gases when the station comparison already presented shows such a strong UHI effect,and such a range in trends over the time of the study. I’ll endeavour to re-write the comment around this point. I’ll add a few more station trends and superimpose these on a satellite map of the area that shows the limits of urban development. The three stations already presented show a range of trends depending on siting. These already conflict with the suggestion in the study that the trend over the study area is uniform. The modelling done by Karoly assumes a uniform rate of rise for the Melbourne area (see figure 1d) , this clearly is not supported by factual evidence (range 0.04-0.28) and clearly shows that model outputs don’t explain the warming.

    Note I sent the lead author a brief email inviting him to comment here.

  94. Should the paper have been titiled:
    “Early emergence in a butterfly casually linked to anthropogenic warming”.

  95. VERY O/T (apologies)…

    @ andyS (02:40:34) :

    O/T This in Daily Telegraph
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/dinosaurs/7624014/Dinosaurs-died-from-sudden-temperature-drop-not-comet-strike-scientists-claim.html
    Would appear to claim that dinosaur extinction started with changes in the Gulf Stream about 50,000,000 years before the Atlantic Ocean came into existance. WUWT?

    According to Wikipedia’s article on Pangaea,

    There were three major phases in the break-up of Pangaea. The first phase began in the Early-Middle Jurassic (about 175 Ma), when Pangaea began to rift from the Tethys Ocean in the east and the Pacific in the west, ultimately giving rise to the supercontinents Laurasia and Gondwana. The rifting that took place between North America and Africa produced multiple failed rifts. One rift resulted in a new ocean, the North Atlantic Ocean.

    While I consider all these early dates to be pulled right out of their arses (and I personally think Pangaea itself to be incorrect), the consensus seems to be that the Atlantic has existed since quite a bit before 137,000,000 years ago.

    And BTW, the “climate change killed the dinosaurs” claptrap is just one concept out there, and IMHO nonsense. The runaway greenhouse effect of Carl Sagan was based on Venus, which has an atmosphere that is 95% CO2. Any comparisons to Earth, with 0.038% CO2 in its atmosphere are ludicrous. Venus’s atmosphere has 2500 times more CO2 by percentage than does Earth. Trying to extrapolate from one to the other is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard of.

    Sagan came up with that hypothesis because Immanuel Velikovsky (whose Worlds in Collision we have to thank for all the 1950s catastrophe movies) had successfully predicted that Venus’ surface temperature would be between 800F-900F. It is now understood to be 860F. Up until the first probes sent back that temperature range, all the supposedly know-everything astronomers had solidly stated that the temp on Venus was in the 200F-300F range.

    Caught with their pants down and the idea that the infamous Dr Velikovsky would be trumpeting his correct prediction as verification for his theories, astronomers needed some quick PR spin. Sagan saved their asses with his runaway greenhouse effect hypothesis, which has to this day has been accepted as fact. When Hansen pulled the CO2 thing out of his individual arse, he used Sagan’s hip shot concept – and the world has never been the same since.

    The runaway greenhouse effect is NOT fact. It is only a surmise, created in a panic situation, as an argument against the man who is still considered the Evil Dr V – and whose name shall forever NOT be mentioned in proper astronomical circles.

    Since 1994, when Comet Shoemaker-Levy made multiple impacts on Jupiter, all of a sudden catastrophe became an acceptable scientific concept for the first time since Lyell and Darwin and Agassiz succeeded in putting together a concept – Uniformitarianism – to overthrow “conclusively” the catastrophe concept that had held forth since the Bible mentioned Noah’s Flood. Science NEEDED that overall concept to get out from under the shackles of the Church, once and for all.

    But Shoemaker-Levy overthrew THAT overthrow. All of a sudden, with Earth-sized plumes from the impacts (which would have been far, far larger in Earth’s gravity, had they impacted here), it was obvious that planet-wide catastrophes not only happened in the dim past, but could happen here at any moment.

    Since then, many an astronomer has stolen Velikovsky methods and factites, and nary a one has chosen to attribute Velikovsky.

    Velikovsky was incorrect in much of his conclusions, but some of his ideas do have some validity.

    Let it be known that since the late 1940s when his first book came out astronomy has had MANY of its own ideas tossed into the garbage can as well. One of them – IMHO – will be the runaway greenhouse effect. Just give it time.

    In other words, put this article in the garbage, too. It will end up there eventually, since it is based on an erroneous understanding of how atmospheres work. As long as the models have the mechanics of the greenhouse effect set up so that it can “runaway,” their models will be wrong. What do they know about atmospheres now vs Sagan’s day? A lot more – but the his concept is causing a long delay in getting it right, since it is a wrong idea. They don’t even know yet that they are down a blind alley.

    YES, CO2 – at the levels found on Earth – has some ability to trap heat. But that capacity is not strong enough to overcome other counter-balancing effects (that is where Hansen – and Sagan before him – got it wrong). The most notable counter-effects so far are water vapor and the iris effect of Richard Lindzen. THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS. Other such mechanisms will be discovered in the future – some with positive temp effects and some with negative effects. The understanding is FAR too low at this time. Low levels of understanding lead to incorrect models and incorrect subsequent theories.

    Claiming effects hundreds of millions of years ago is just nonsense, based on jumped-to conclusions and thinking they have it all understood now. They are HOW many (few) decades into the study of the climate? And they’ve had how many years with computers that can actually help them? In 50 years they will look back and laugh at the things scientists of today thought were real.

  96. Richard Hill is totally correct in his statements.

    I drive the 8 lane highway highway from Melbourne to rural Geelong, and I pass adjacent to the RAAF base often at night in a car fitted with an accurate external temperature sensor. This is a heavy traffic area day and night feeding western Victorias industry with supplies.
    Laverton is on average 2 degrees celcius higher than the rural Geelong area that I go to. Geelong has about 300,000 people, and it’s rural areas compare in temperature stability to the Brisbane Ranges readings .
    Laverton is definitely a suburb of Melbourne, not rural as it was in the 1940’s.
    Keep up the good work Marc.

  97. Here’s what Karoly said about his temperature grid-box technique in
    http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/full/10.1175/JCLI3565.1

    “The statement that the observed trends are consistent with the model response to GS forcing is not a strong attribution statement, as there are other climate forcings that may be more important at local rather than global scales. We have not considered the possible responses to land use or land cover changes, nor to increases in carbon black aerosols, any of which may be important contributors to the observed warming trends in some grid boxes.”

    Judging by that statement, and the large error bars in Fig 1. (d), I’d say they had failed to causally connect greenhouse gasses and butterfly emergence dates, but they may have connected UHI and emergence dates. UHI being an anthropogenic source, then I guess they do show “emergence in a butterfly causally linked to anthropogenic warming”, but not in the way that they had intended.

  98. Jordan, I think you misunderstood my answer since I did mention other factors besides temperature. The point is that temperature has significant, independent effects on rates of insect development (keep in mind that insects are cold-blooded). Being independent, these effects do not depend on other factors such as food. This is not my opinion, it is a thoroughly documented fact. You can hold food, humidity and light/dark cycle constant and groups of insects held at different temperatures will show different rates of development. In fact, the authors of this paper apparently performed just such an experiment and showed this temperature-dependent effect. That result would generally not justify publication in a serious journal, since it’s bloody obvious and barely worthy of an undergraduate research project.

    We’re not talking here about egg hatching or larval development, as other posters here seem to think. We’re talking about the emergence of adults, in the spring, from an overwintering pupal state. Linking this to temperature is a way of making sure that the adults emerge when food is available and food plants for the larvae will be available (these are, of course, the egg-laying sites for most butterflies). In cropping systems, degree-day calculations are frequently used to predict the date of first appearance of pest species.

    I’m not sure why anyone would think the results of this paper are surprising. If the temperature records are correct, you would expect the emergence dates of many insects to vary with the temperature records. Of course, the important number is not “average” temperature, but rather the degree-days accumulated after a certain critical date (which may be based on a minimal day length). As I noted before, light pollution effects may also be important here and if they wanted to do a careful study the authors should have run the constant temperature/longer light cycle experiment also.

    With all that in mind, it’s still entirely plausible that UHI effects could be responsible for this. The fact (if true) that the butterflies are emerging earlier due to warmer winter temperatures says nothing at all about the reason behind the warmer winter temperatures, and it’s specious to argue otherwise. The authors seem to be using the insects as a smoke screen to make an argument about something entirely separate.

  99. graham g, what are the verges of the roads like? Do you have green/grassy verges on either side of the roads?
    Do the people of Melbourne do lawns, more especially, do they feed and water them in the spring?

  100. Marc, I can only assume you are wanting to play David to the AGW Goliath. Suffice to say the ‘butterfly’ paper is about politics, not science, which is not to infer that it cannot be countered by science, adequately provided by some of the responses here.
    For the benefit of those who may be missing the Karoly factor in the AlGorithm , here’s a bit more –
    ‘Professor David Karoly is Professor of Meteorology and an ARC Federation Fellow in the School of Earth Sciences. He is an expert in climate change science and was involved, through several different roles, in the preparation of the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released in 2007. The IPCC was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007, jointly with Al Gore, “for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change”.’
    more – http://research.science.unimelb.edu.au/profile/eminent/karoly

  101. davidmhoffer wrote:
    “Sorta like that clown taking Anthony to task for it’s versus its. I am now using itz in protest in all cases.”

    David, I am not a clown, nor do I deserve this treatment from you. I attempted to point out an error in Anthony’s speech, it was neither a criticism of him or his intelligence. It was an attempt to improve a mistake that Anthony commonly makes (as do some of those “eminent” climate scientists at RC). So please refrain from this childish attitude towards other posters, it does nothing to enhance the merit of your arguments.

  102. My (non-scientist) 2 cents.

    This is not about butterflies, it’s about climate models. That butterflies
    are emerging earlier as a result of warmer winters is all well and good.

    The claim being made is that models with a high forcing factor reflect
    reality better than models with a low forcing factor. What hasn’t been
    justified is the use of a high forcing factor for CO2, and a low forcing
    factor for solar variability. Therefore, the use of the term “anthropogenic”
    in the paper’s title is unjustified.

  103. Hi,
    I did not read through all the comments, so some (all) my points may already have been mentioned, but I would like to point out some problems with the reviewers understanding of statistics:

    Ref. 1

    “”there is no reason to expect such data to be chronologically biased”. To me, this proviso seems sufficient ”

    This is not an exercise in believing, or at least should not be. “I think my data is Ok” and “I think it is enough if you think so” is pretty unacceptable as a scientific standard.

    “The second criticism is that the physiological model did not account for other possible variables. No, but the fit of observed phenology to that modelled based on climate was extremely close.”

    Ref. 1 ignores that the fit “per se” is no proof that other factors are absent, which is elementary statistics material. E.g. if A is a cause and B is highly correlated to A then we would see a “close fit” between B and our effect even though they have nothing to do with each other. There is an “extremely close” fit between the amount of ice cream sold and violent crime, in some cities , so based on Ref 1’s logic there is a link as well.

    “For this criticism to be justified the author should again present some empirical evidence that the other variables listed influence emergence times in this species or similar species”

    For this criticism to be NOT justified the authors of the article should present empirical evidence that other correlated factors do NOT influence the emergence of this species. If not, their findings are as meaningless as the ice-cream findings were.

    Ref2 is a joke. I wonder why the rejection letter considered his remark a “strong criticism”?

    Ref 3:

    “Kearny et al have made the assumption that there is no obvious bias in these data. So, here the author should more convincingly show that there is indeed bias that may impact on the conclusions.”

    Now this would be an interesting methodological change. It seems that it is enough for the researchers “to make the assumption ” that their data is not biased and then it is the duty of their critics to prove this assumption wrong (or right, of course). E.g. if I make the claim that I can read minds, present some anectdotes and publish the results in this journal, it would be OK as long as I make the assumption that my data is not biased??

    “It is not enough mentioning the opportunistic nature of the data.”
    But is should be. A methodological error is a methodological error.

    “This point needs more work.”
    Fully agree. The authors of the published article should clear these points.

  104. To DocMartyn

    Lawns in Melbourne.! Your kidding.
    Victoria used to be called “The Garden State” in Australia.
    Due mainly to the poor government planning and the green movement, lawns are a relic of past decades. No water available. End of the story.
    Re. road verges in the Laverton RAAF base area,some grass struggles to survive on the unused airstrip side areas, but the on the sides of the road are mainly industrial buildings.

  105. Re suggested UK funding changes:
    “to give more support to the few scientists who can “really move the needle” by making major discoveries.”

    I just wonder, how many young scientists would ever make it up into the circle of the chosen “few”. Probably only by doing their PhD’s and postdoc studies there. I see no chance of a fresh-start scientist or new area of research emerging from chronically underfunded “commoner’s” labs of other specializations that would surely result from such a system…

  106. Robert Kral (17:18:08) : “Jordan, I think you misunderstood my answer since I did mention other factors besides temperature”

    Thanks for your more detailed explanation. It helps people like me to understand a little bit more about possible issues with the paper.

  107. O/T again (Sorry also) Feet2.
    Wikipedia, on entry Atlantic Ocean, History section states that

    “Apparently it (the Atlantic Ocean) did not exist prior to 130 million years ago, when the continents that formed from the breakup of the ancestral super continent, Pangaea, were drifting apart from seafloor spreading.”

    Furthermore, the Telegraph artice, sentence two reads,

    “While studying fossils and minerals from the Arctic Svalbard, Norway, they concluded the sudden change in the Atlantic Gulf Stream during the Cretaceous period would almost certainly have wiped out the ”abundance” of the world’s dinosaurs.”
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/dinosaurs/7624014/Dinosaurs-died-from-sudden-temperature-drop-not-comet-strike-scientists-claim.html

    Perhaps the North Atlantic Ocean of 137 my ago Pangea was not today’s Atlantic Ocean. I’m uncertain, as what seems to be the consensus. Looking at the ‘modeled’ histories I am finding (i.e. http://www.historyoftheuniverse.com/cd0.html, and I share your doubts here), NOA at the time was comparable in size to the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean seas combined and latitudanly comparable to the Bermuda Triangle of today.

    It seems that the writer, scientists or both, are be trying to transpose a modern idea about the Atlantic Ocean and it’s place in the Thermohaline Circulation (and possibly locationally lat/long) into place that didn’t exist yet.

    Price of Plymouth Uni says ““If they were unable to migrate south they could have been wiped out. Climate change is now very much on the agenda in trying to determine how the dinosaurs became extinct.”

    This is an evelope being pushed on part of the scientists, it would appear.

    Although there is some sloppy writing, like.

    “the sudden change in the Atlantic Gulf Stream during the Cretaceous period would almost certainly have wiped out the ”abundance” of the world’s dinosaurs.”

    A one word quote? That’s how book raves misquote bad reviews.

    Plymouth seems to want us to know that climate change in “greenhouse climates” like our own, is more dangerous than a Chicxalub-sized impactor. Working against ‘consenus’ to gather more ‘proof’ that humans are facing the most ‘dangerous’ challenge ever.

  108. 240K for something so sloppy and with NO real data? laverton Rural:-) ha ha ha.
    the Bogong moths emergence is entirely dependant on the rains coming, some weeks ago the airpressure dropped, it semed like it would rain, a few hatched, but not all, a weekafter that we got a decent rain and many more appeared, I stood in the yard and listened to them whirring up from the ground, same as I do when the dung beetles emerge, its fun, like a natural dodgem cars, whizz whoosh.
    I know when the ground temps is round 11 or 12C the stinging nettles appear with or without the rains. then its time to plant winter vegies.

  109. Annei (08:18:05) :

    “Laverton rural?! I wanted to fall about laughing when I read that. I first lived in Melbourne in 1984. It has grown hugely since then. Laverton is out near Altona and by the Prince’s Freeway to Geelong. Don’t tell me that the huge sprawl of Melbourne and the increasing use of cars and air-conditioners hasn’t had an effect on local temperatures.”

    Based on what I am being told above, in different comments, it is very
    plausible that Laverton should indeed be labeled suburban. But then
    there is the question about (1) the local environment of the station
    itself, (2) how suburban translates into UHI?

    For a very large city (London, New York) the UHI effect would yield 1.5
    to 2.0 C consistently higher mean temp compared to nearby rural areas.
    Looking at MH’s graphs the difference between Melbourne and Laverton
    is of that magnitude, which kind of suggests that the UHI effect is spent
    when we reach Laverton, starting from the centre?

    Also, since the trends in both stations are so similar: it would suggest
    some larger scale influence working in both areas; that would be
    global warming, the VIctoria variant of it.

    If UHI was important in Laverdon area the recent urbanization surge
    would produce a different looking trend than Melbourne centre, which
    is a settled urban environment.

  110. Response to Marc Hendrickx

    Some links, issue nos, doi and suggestions to request for info “Early emergence in a butterfly causally linked to anthropogenic warming”

    Please advise how to attach pdfs.

    1. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) easily avail, however historical census data will depend on adjusting for collection districts (geographical or electoral boundaries) eg http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/3105.0.65.001Explanatory%20Notes12008?OpenDocument

    2. Bezemer, T. M., & Jones, T. H. 1998 Plant–insect herbivore interactions in elevated atmospheric CO2: quantitative analyses and guild effects. Oikos 82, 212–222 avail JSTOR (as pre-2000) ? cost

    3. Catrice D (1997) http://www.parkweb.vic.gov.au/resources/22_2131.pdf
    (http://www.parkweb.vic.gov.au/1process.cfm?publication=22 ) NOT Dept Natural Resource and Environment, which was disbanded in 2002 http://www.nre.vic.gov.au/

    4. Cortrufo (1998) V4(1) avail here http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/117991450/toc
    doi 10.1046/j.1365-2486.1998.00101.x

    5. GISMO – did not check link

    6. Goverde, M., Erhardt, A., & Niklaus P. A. (2002) In situ development of a satyrid butterfly on calcareous grassland exposed to elevated carbon dioxide. Ecology 83(5), 1399-1411 (pdf avail please advise)

    7. Jones, P. D., Lister, D. H., and Li Q. (2008), Urbanization effects in large-scale temperature records, with an emphasis on China, J. Geophys. Res., 113, D16122, doi:10.1029/2008JD009916
    http://www.agu.org/ (pdf avail please advise)

    8. Kearney – did not check

    9. Kobayashi Takato and Kitahara Masahiko
    http://lepi-jp.org/index_e_publication.htm
    requests by e-mail: info@lepi-jp.org

    10. Penuelas, J (1998) V13(1) doi:10.1016/S0169-5347(97)01235-4
    http://www.cell.com/trends/ecology-evolution/archive?year=1998
    selecting pdf will take you to Sciencedirect where option for payment ($31.50) or abstract.

    11. Slansky http://www.cababstractsplus.org/abstracts/Abstract.aspx?AcNo=19961101717 (no further search done)

    12. Watt p197-217 – in book Harrington, ‘Insects in a Changing Environment’ (cost UK144 Amazon)
    Insects in a Changing Environment: 17th Symposium of the Royal Entomological Society 7-10 September 1993 at Rothamsted Experimental Station, Harpend. Could request pges? info@royensoc.co.uk

  111. Melbourne have had water restrictions through the drought and lawns were let go. Also increasing development means denser living, housing units and paved surfaces replacing the half acre property with its front and back yard grass areas. We are being encouraged to plant indigent plants that need less water. Good rain this year has seen the greening of our parkland and paddocks and my lawn.

  112. Folks, it seems like people didn’t notice my post above, but I will repeat the conclusion. There is no statistically significant correlation between the two variables (emergence time and temperature).

    As a result, the study is meaningless.

  113. Willis Eschenbach, “As a result, the study is meaningless.” MInd if I borrow your statistical analysis for the re-write? (With due credit of course).

    MH

  114. @Willis Eschenbach,

    Your data (n = 13) are not consistent with Figure 1 (n = 14). You left out 1940. [snip]

    @Marc Hendrickx,

    One killer regression would be more effective than your dozen citations. Get your hands on some data for your alternative causes and show that they provide a superior explanation for–not just obfuscating doubt about–the patterns that Kearyney at al. observed.

  115. MarcH (18:37:13) : edit

    Willis Eschenbach, “As a result, the study is meaningless.” MInd if I borrow your statistical analysis for the re-write? (With due credit of course).

    MH

    That’s why I posted it …

    I am very curious about why they have binned their data into five-year blocks … I’d love to see the original data if you can get hold of it. But as it stands (5-year blocks), it’s not significant.

    I digitized the data, as is my custom when the !@#$%^ authors don’t archive it … the battle for archiving data continues.

    Best of luck, let us know the outcome.

    w.

  116. Not Surprised (21:02:47)

    @Willis Eschenbach,

    Your data (n = 13) are not consistent with Figure 1 (n = 14). You left out 1940. [snip]

    Had to leave out the 1940 emergence, because there’s no temperature data for 1940.

  117. I’ll leave the science to other posters, but about Karoly I know quite a bit — most notably that is a shameless opportunist who will leap on any cause if it can further his warmist ends.

    The horrific bushfires we had here in Victoria in Feb, 2009, are the perfect example. The fires were still burning and very few of the 173 victims had been identified when Karoly sprang to the lectern to announce that the fires were, you guessed it, the doing of global warming. This suited the state government to a tee, as its entire patronage-soaked cadre of incompetents running the civil emergency system were asleep at the wheel (as a subsequent royal commission into the fires has established).

    Karoly is a pseudo-science emu. you know, those large, flightless birds that must forever be stooping over on their long legs to get the next meal. Well, nothing is too low for this man to embrace if it contributes to his (running) tally of $21 million in climate change grants.

  118. Willis/MarkH
    I may have misunderstood; but the April-Oct average temperature data they display in (1b) is not the explanatory variable in their prediction vs observations graph (1a),
    I would imagine that they have either used multivariate regression, perhaps with individual monthly data or they could have used a process model using perhaps monthly/weekly/daily data. So just because there isnt a significant correlation between the average temperatures and the observations does not mean that this part of their hypothesis is broken.
    Having said that , I didnt find that their predictions were related to the observations at 5% .
    Without a copy of the paper, we are groping around in the dark.

  119. Sorry try again; the april-oct average temperature we are looking at is not used in a simple way to generate their predictions.

  120. Someones sniffing for a grant, guess you don’t get much money studying insects. Now elephants theres a grant maker.

  121. Richard Telford,

    Calculating confidence intervals with 3 data points (or 14 as in the graphs to which I was referring) is a meaningless exercise due to the fact that your error factors would be huge relative to your result and have no meaning. Technically correct statistics are not necessarily meaningfull or usefull in prediction. Might as well stretch a rubber band in whatever direction you please as opposed to trying to do a regression line. An R2 explaining 30% of the variation in the dependent variable plus or minus 50% is of no use what-so-ever. And, as I said, not only is sample size error a factor but the first caution in any classical statistical analysis is to always beware of implied cause and effect, which is the main flaw in AGW as it is all based upon implied C&E, aside from the fudged data they have used (sampling “error”). The above are probably reasons why the greenies simply use doctored graphs of doctored data and computer models with garbage in giving garbage out.

  122. @Willis,

    Fair enough; I didn’t notice that there were fewer data points for the (easier to get) mean temperatures than for the (harder to get) times of emergence. Also, they note in the paper that they “used the earliest observed record within 5-year intervals from 1941–2005 as the emergence date”, so yearly emergence data could probably be requested. My guess is that they didn’t want to clutter an already very busy figure with five times as many points, when all of the analyses they present are significant even when binned.

    Also, belated thanks for digitizing the data so that we have something tangible to talk about. Now that I understand what data you’re using, the regressions you ran seem fine.

    However, I don’t think that they exhibit a “fatal flaw” in the paper. I wrote a short program in R (http://gist.github.com/379985) that generates data that resembles the data in Figure 1 in its error and comes from a process where one variable depends linearly on the other. Under the binning process they use, linear regression (and the more appropriate nonparametric rank correlation tests) produces a significant result less than half of the time. Using the unbinned tests produces a significant result nearly certainly.

    Since we have no reason to think that the underlying relation between emergence time and average temperature is linear, this strengthens the evidence that the tests you run are underpowered for the binned data. In other words, even if nature works exactly as Kearney et al. think it does, we wouldn’t expect p < 0.05 from your analyses.

  123. Not Surprised (15:04:23) : edit

    @Willis,

    Fair enough; I didn’t notice that there were fewer data points for the (easier to get) mean temperatures than for the (harder to get) times of emergence. Also, they note in the paper that they “used the earliest observed record within 5-year intervals from 1941–2005 as the emergence date”, so yearly emergence data could probably be requested. My guess is that they didn’t want to clutter an already very busy figure with five times as many points, when all of the analyses they present are significant even when binned.

    My point is that they are not significant when binned …

    Also, belated thanks for digitizing the data so that we have something tangible to talk about. Now that I understand what data you’re using, the regressions you ran seem fine.

    More than welcome, having the data is a good thing.

    However, I don’t think that they exhibit a “fatal flaw” in the paper. I wrote a short program in R (http://gist.github.com/379985) that generates data that resembles the data in Figure 1 in its error and comes from a process where one variable depends linearly on the other. Under the binning process they use, linear regression (and the more appropriate nonparametric rank correlation tests) produces a significant result less than half of the time. Using the unbinned tests produces a significant result nearly certainly.

    Nice program. However, you have assumed that one variable depends linearly on the other … isn’t that begging the question? I mean, if it all depends on how strong the correlation between the two might be.

    Also, the Monte Carlo analysis that you are using is quite sensitive to the assumption of the size of the standard deviation. Using a test based on a minor change in your R program, where one variable depends only weakly on the other and a reasonable standard deviation (one which gives an spread similar to that of the data), the raw data does not do much better than the binned.

    Which is why we need to see the data … speaking of which, I thought I had posted the predicted and observed data, but I see that I didn’t, so here it is:

    Year, Predicted, Observed
    1945, 11.62, 11.53
    1950, 11.43, 11.61
    1955, 11.52, 11.28
    1960, 11.37, 11.64
    1965, 11.38, 11.38
    1970, 11.38, 11.51
    1975, 11.34, 11.22
    1980, 11.3, 11.43
    1985, 11.4, 11.35
    1990, 11.39, 11.21
    1995, 11.41, 10.97
    2000, 11.33, 11.36
    2005, 11.12, 11.3

    Since we have no reason to think that the underlying relation between emergence time and average temperature is linear, this strengthens the evidence that the tests you run are underpowered for the binned data. In other words, even if nature works exactly as Kearney et al. think it does, we wouldn’t expect p < 0.05 from your analyses.

    It’s true that binned does worse than unbinned … but without the data, we can’t say.

    My main problem with the study, however, is that it makes a huge assumption. Here’s their abstract:

    There is strong correlative evidence that human-induced climate warming is contributing to changes in the timing of natural events. Firm attribution, however, requires cause-and-effect links between observed climate change and altered phenology, together with statistical confidence that observed regional climate change is anthropogenic. We provide evidence for phenological shifts in the butterfly Heteronympha merope in response to regional warming in the southeast Australian city of Melbourne. The mean emergence date for H. merope has shifted −1.6 days per decade over a 65-year period with a concurrent increase in local air temperatures of approximately 0.14°C per decade. We used a physiologically based model of climatic influences on development, together with statistical analyses of climate data and global climate model projections, to attribute the response of H. merope to anthropogenic warming. Such mechanistic analyses of phenological responses to climate improve our ability to forecast future climate change impacts on biodiversity.

    Their logic runs like this:

    1. Butterflies are maturing earlier in response to warming.

    2. Climate models predict anthropogenic warming.

    3. Therefore, we have “firm attribution” of changes in butterfly emergence to anthropoid-caused overheating …

    Yeah, science at its best, assume what you are trying to prove, then claim it’s proven …

  124. Willis,

    Your 1,2,3 is right on and even beyond the “beware of assumed cause and effect” which must always be avoided in regression analysis, as you have pointed out correctly that the study first assumes the cause exists at all, then assumes cause and effect for the insects. A double assumption!! Wow, what a country.

  125. Robert Kral says:
    April 23, 2010 at 10:39 pm
    “Having a background in entomology, I can say that cumulative degree-days is a critical factor in development. That is, the accumulated product of temperature and time is highly correlated with developmental and emergence events. ”

    Reviewer 1’s objection:

    “For the criticisms in the current ms to be supported, the author should present some evidence that this species or others are shifting their phenology related to some of the other factors suggested, or some evidence that in fact the data does not support a shift in phenology.”

    This is dangerously close to argumentum ad ignorantium. A favourite tactic of political pseudo science, e.g. “prove to us that CO2 is NOT causing warming” or (a few cneturies earlier) “prove to the rest of the village you are NOT a witch!”

    The “other factor” that reviewer 1 seeks could be found in an interaction between points 1 and 3 of Marc Hendrickx.
    Point 1: data were opportunistically collected by people
    Point 3: Urban weather stations measured a temperature rise, rural did not. Thus the rise was UHI.

    Cities are where people are. Thus the opportunistic collection of data by people will inevitably be strongly biased toward urban or near-urban sites. We know that the city of Melbourne, within its expanding boundary, was getting warmer (from the three stations, two urban, one rural), and that as Robert Kral points out, cumulative degree days will influence date of emergence. The result is an inevitable effect on Butterfly emergence related to increasing temperatures around Melbourne.

    But politics spins the interpretation. It is spun as evidence of global warming and its effect on butterflies. But it would more correctly be a paper providing evidence of the urban heat island effect, with the Brown Butterfly serving as a biomarker.

  126. To Marc H.
    I have followed this topic with great interest because I live in Melbourne. In addition to the issues already raised by yourself and the many posters, there is one more critical issue that should be put forward, which you may be able to use to prove the fundamental weakness in the logic that you have been after. However, is the blog still open for comment, and are you still pursuing the subject with a view to having a critical review published on Biol.Letters or elsewhere?

  127. Roy,
    I sent Biology Letters an email today asking how to submit a reply as an E-letter. I am planning to focus my criticism on claims that warming is due to greenhouse gases, rather than UHI effect. This will take a little longer than the few days I invested initially. If you have anything to add it would be appreciated.

    cheers
    Marc

  128. MarcH.

    In the comment you submitted to Biology Letters your first point was that the absence of data surrounding the observed emergence dates left open the possibility of confounding influences other than temperature affecting the analysis. I concur with you and the many posters that the unavailability of data is a serious flaw in the presentation, and one that we may hope to get addressed in time. However, after a lot of analysis and deliberation I have concluded that the observations taken from the Museum records and those of Kelvyn L. Dunn do in fact point to temperature as the primary determinant of emergence dates, and that the influence of other factors must be relatively minor. There is a reasonable presumption, but still only a presumption, that the selected samples came from outside the areas known to be affected by the Melbourne UHI. What follows is an analysis of the data below, taken from Figures 1a.) & 1b.) in the Kearney et al. paper. (Willis Eschenbach hovered around the same area in his April 24th. post. I note that some of his data was a bit mixed up, presumably a transcription error.)
    Emergence time: Mean
    Observed Predicted Temperature
    Period Time Month Month Deg. C
    1 1940 11.53
    2 1945 11.63 11.62 11.13
    3 1950 11.44 11.28 11.14
    4 1955 11.53 11.67 11.37
    5 1960 11.36 11.38 11.26
    6 1965 11.37 11.58 11.73
    7 1970 11.38 11.23 11.30
    8 1975 11.35 11.44 11.64
    9 1980 11.31 11.35 11.65
    10 1985 11.41 11.22 11.58
    11 1990 11.39 10.97 11.87
    12 1995 11.41 11.37 11.66
    13 2000 11.33 11.40 11.66
    14 2005 11.13 11.24 12.28

    I apologize for this being descriptive, but I have not yet found clear instructions as to upload the charts. I may put them up in a pdf file on my web site later.
    1.) The linear regression line on the plot of all observed emergence dates vs. the time period does show the claimed trend in emergence times. But if only the points from 1960 to 2000 are taken, covering effectively forty five years, they all fall in a band within a range of only 0.1 mo., or three days, and the trend is actually towards slightly later emergence times. The laboratory tests on species development time quantified the inverse relationship to temperature for this species, a result that appears sound and should relate well to actual behavior in the host micro-climates in the field. Thus if we find that observed dates of emergence did not change, the implication is that the temperatures in the environment also did not change. That finding is consistent with the temperatures observed at Durdidwarrah and the very few places within the survey area that have enough published data to cover a sufficient part of the 1960-2000 period. In short, we can conclude that within the 1960-2000 period there is no trend that could be indicative of warming across the region. The butterflies tell us so.
    2.) A period-by-period scan of the emergence observations within the 1960-2000 period reveals that they were affected by concurrent temperature variations. e.g., the warm dry spell that preceded the 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires, the cooler period that followed, and another cooler period around 1995. The early emergence in the 2000 box reflects the higher temperatures that followed the severe El Nino event in 1996/7, and the beginning of an extended drought, accompanied by higher than average temperatures, that has eased only in the last couple of years. Then the very early emergence in the 2005 box appears concurrently with a recent rapid and sustained increase in temperatures in all rural sites across the state of Victoria, characteristic of similar periods that occurred well before the start of the 1945-2010 time frame covered in the Kearney et al. letter. It may or may not be an indication of long term warming trend; it is too early to tell. The early emergence in the 2005 box is therefore consistent with the recent very warm and dry period, during which the H. merope host grasses have also experienced considerable environmental stress due to severe cumulative rainfall deficit.
    3.) I had personal experience of the 1950 and 1955 box periods as being unusually cold and wet. This is confirmed by the temperature records both within the study area and within a couple of hundred kilometers around. It is quite evident in the temperature graphs include in your comments. Also, throughout last century the rainfall across the study area increased and decreased in a cyclic pattern of about eighteen years duration, with fairly consistent highs and lows, but the rainfall in the 1950 and 1955 boxes was significantly higher than any other peak within a hundred year period, accompanied as noted above by lower than normal temperatures. The late emergence times observed are therefore consistent with the prevailing weather conditions at the time.
    4.) The late emergence times in 1945 have no obvious explanation from the known data. It is here that the lack of specific site data is particularly vexing. I might hazard a conjecture that it reflects a lack of reliable data, bearing in mind that it spans the end of the WWII period, when observations were most likely sparse and less well recorded.
    5.) As regards the prediction of emergence dates, a plot covering all thirteen periods of the actual date of emergence vs. the predicted dates shows a very wide scatter of points, and a linear trend line completely different from the expected 1:1 correspondence. My plot yields an R^2 value of only 0.215. One would expect a smooth line of some sort, but this is completely lacking. Therefore, as I understand it, the claimed link between the projection derived from temperature and emergence times in not valid. Willis E. demonstrated a similar finding from his analysis of observed emergence times vs. temperature.
    6.) That the temperature data for Laverton trends upwards when comparable data from rural sites does not is a pretty sure indication that it is partly affected by the UHI effect. I agree with the many posters who have questioned how it can be classified as quality rural site, but just how that solidly held position can be moved is a real imponderable.
    7.) The purpose of the computer modeling of the temperature rise due primarily to CO2 was to provide a comparison to the claimed temperature rise in the study area. At the moment I do not have to put my own assessment of modeling Per Se, or the it’s relevance to this study.

    I trust that some of this may be of use to you.

  129. MarcH.

    The columns in the post just submitted got scrambled in transmission.
    The column headings should be:-
    First – Period
    Second – Time
    Third – Emergence time, observed – Month
    Fourth – Emergence time predicted – Month
    Fifth – Mean Temperature – Deg. C
    The 11.53 on 1940 row should be in the predicted emergence column.

  130. MarcH

    In regard to locational sites and previous studies of (unthreatened) H metrope

    A 1972 NSW study: Edward ED (1972 ?1973) Delayed Ovarian Development and Aestivation in Adult Females of Heteronympha merope merope (Lepidoptera: Satyrinae) Australian Journal of Entomology 12(2) p92-8
    *Division of Entomology, CSIRO, Canberra, A.C.T. 2601.
    ABSTRACT
    There are strong indications that in New South Wales there is a delay in ovarian development in females of Heteronympha merope merope (Lepidoptera: Satyrinae) and in addition, under hot conditions, aestivation may occur. A similar delay in ovarian development is indicated in H. mirifica but is probably not accompanied by aestivation. In both species females copulate soon after emergence, and adult males do not aestivate. Delayed ovarian development and aestivation, which have not previously been recorded in Australian Papilionoidea, are discussed in relation to climate.
    Manuscript received August 7, 1972 ONLINE 31 March 2007
    10.1111/j.1440-6055.1973.tb01642.x

    Also
    1. Laverton (area or town) is listed under two City Councils: Wyndham and Hobsons Bay. This article may be of interest
    Williams Landing (new subdivision) has been written up A City on the Edge (The Age 3/4/2008) with reference to Melbourne growth strategy: climate change: drought.
    http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2008/05/02/1209235157167.html

    2. Museum Victoria provides a map of a Heteronympha banksii study (1898-1999) east of Melbourne, this area is likely burnt out due to Black Saturday fires. Whether the Kearney 1945-2005 study accounted for fires (and emissions) and loss of vegetation + Native Vegetation Act? http://www.dse.vic.gov.au/dse/nrenfoe.nsf/childdocs/-D79E4FB0C437E1B6CA256DA60008B9EF?open

    Banks’ Brown Butterfly Heteronympha banksii
    Butterflies of Melbourne series http://museumvictoria.com.au/discoverycentre/infosheets/melbournes-butterflies/banks-brown-butterfly/
    Perhaps emailing Ken Walker http://museumvictoria.com.au/bioinformatics/butter/
    Email hyperlink ‘Legacy data’ , also online mapping avail on this page

    3. Sands DPR New TR (2002) Action Plan for Australian Butterflies, Environment Australia, Canberra (noted in text: Introduction: IUCN classification direction; weakness of 1994 Dunn report; Qld legislated the Nature Conservation Act, 2 observers required for H.merope) as the report was being written
    http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/action/butterfly/pubs/butterflies.pdf

    4. UN Environment Program- in the news (provides further details of egg/temp study in the laboratory – not provided in the WUWT abstract)
    http://www.unep.org/cpi/briefs/2010Mar23.doc as does the link from H.merope to Australian Geographic http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/journal/butterfly-cycle-found-to-be-affected-by-climate-change.htm
    The study was also given space 2-3 days after publishing in the Mynamar newspaper.

    5. The Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act (1988) discusses control and management of natural vegetation. H merope is not listed as endangered. http://www.dse.vic.gov.au/DSE/dsencor.nsf/LinkView/42052F5352716A71CA25765D001D845F250370F0D4508518CA256F040021E0EB
    The only butterfly studies listed are to the ?north-east of Melb (Mt Piper), titled Butterfly Community No. 1 with extensive references on a study (Jelinek A 1992) and I think may be searched/found under Listed Taxa, Communities and Potentially Threatening Proceses http://www.dse.vic.gov.au/DSE/nrenpa.nsf/LinkView/EADA0F1874AF9CF24A2567C1001020A388BBA5581CF9D859CA256BB300271BDB

    6. A book recently published may be of interest
    Thermal Games: Putting Temperature Back on the Evolutionary Agenda
    Richard John Walters and David Berger
    Zoological Museum, University of Zurich-Irchel, Winterthurerstrasse 190, CH-8057 Zurich, Switzerland E-mail: richard.john.walters@googlemail.com

  131. Roy Martin,
    thanks for the detailed assessment. I would encourage you to condense this and submit it as a comment to Biology letters or as an e-letter. You may have more cut through than I did. The more voices that demonstrate this study is flawed the better.

    Thanks again to you and other posters and to Anthony for publicising the issue.

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