While not really “secret”, one might describe it that way because unlike the many things Dr. Mann has been doing lately, there wasn’t one peep of press coverage about it. He helped organize this conference, and as we know Dr. Mann doesn’t shy away from reporting to the press on anything that helps his stature. Surprisingly, the usual science writers didn’t mention it, and you’d think they would, given all the major players that converged in Portugal for this event. So, it seems like they may have missed it too. Portuguese blogger “EcoTretas” only got word of this from a tip about a related story in a Portuguese newspaper. His essay is below, and there’s a lot more after that. – Anthony
A usual reader of the blog sent me yesterday an interesting news from a Portuguese newspaper. It deals with the classic Medieval Warm Period problem, in the most green Portuguese newspaper. I immediately recognized one of the worst environmental journalists in Portugal, dealing with one of my favorite issues. Interestingly enough, Ricardo Trigo, a portuguese climatologist, was trying to explain the pseudo-science behind climate change and global warming, confusing things like Greenland’s vikings and Maunder’s Minimum.
But what really interested me in the story was a reference to Phil Jones, the person in the center of the ClimateGate controversy.
And references to a conference in Portugal, regarding the Medieval Warm Period. I spent some time trying to figure out what had happened. Turned out that I had not read the news with attention: the conference had happened a month before!
Between 22 and 24 of September, a symposium entitled “The Medieval Warm Period Redux: Where and When was it warm?” was organized in Lisbon, Portugal. The Climategate mob was here, including Phil Jones, Michael Mann, Malcolm Hughes and Raymond Bradley. I bet the main point on the agenda was how “to get rid of the Medieval Warm Period“. The abstracts for the conference are available here. Probably, the best abstract of the symposium was for Malcolm K. Hughes (highlights are my responsibility):
|We meant the title of our 1994 review “Was there a Medieval Warm Period, and if so Where and When?” (Hughes and Diaz, 1994) to be read in two ways. Firstly, it was to be read quite literally. Secondly, it was meant to be ironic. The literal reading was rewarded by an attempt to identify and synthesize records thought to be appropriate to this task. Irony was used to imply that, since a clear and simple answer was not forthcoming from the review, it might be useful to reformulate the question. Please read the title of this abstract in the light of this explanation of the 1994 title.
The trajectories of these two concepts (“Medieval Warm Period” and “Medieval Climate Anomaly “) will be traced. A case will be made for the abandonment of both of them, on the grounds that they are inappropriate, uninformative, and that they very probably divert attention from more revealing ways of thinking about the Earth’s climate over the past two millennia.
It is clear from many recent publications, especially many of the abstracts submitted for this meeting, that high-resolution paleoclimatology has moved firmly from the mode of descriptive climatology to that of physical climatology. As a result, there is little utility in picking over definitions of the geographic and temporal extent of putative epochs, especially in the Late Holocene. The pressing questions concern the dynamics of the climate system, and the relative roles of free and forced variations, whether the forcings are anthropogenic or not.
All the information I’ve got till now makes me believe that this was an almost secret meeting. No news transpired, not even here in Portugal. Given the abstracts, and the one seen above, their intentions are clear! If Ricardo Trigo kept his mouth shut, nobody would probably hear about it. So I wish to thank my loyal reader for bringing this to our attention.
Here’s more on this conference. First have a look at the attendees. It reads like a who’s who book of paleoclimatology. I’ve highlighted some of the more recognizable names.
The source of that list is the brochure, which you can download here. With all these paleo-bigwigs meeting in one place, surely somebody would have written about it?
It appears they are trying to rehabilitate the paleoclimatology so that it plays well in the next IPCC report. The main website has this to say about it:
We propose to revisit the MCA/MWP assimilating widespread and continuous paleoclimatic evidence in a homogeneous way and scale them against recent measured temperatures to allow a meaningful quantitative comparison against the 20th-century pace and magnitude of warming. It is the goal of the organizers to focus attention on this topic, so that the latest results will be considered in the next (fifth) assessment report of the IPCC.
[Annual mean NH temperature anomalies from their 1500 to 1899 means (°C) simulated by different models (lines) and compared with the concentration of overlapping NH temperature reconstructions (grey shading). Taken from Figure 6.13 of Jansen et al., 2007: Palaeoclimate. In: Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Solomon et al. (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.]
Among the topics to be discussed are:
• Reconciling multiple proxy climate records—what do the differences indicate regarding the scale of MCA/MWP climate?
• What do the latest modeling results tell us about possible forcing mechanisms during this period?
• What are some other impacts of climatic variability during the MCA/MWP regarding such topics as changes in ocean basin tropical cyclone activity?
• What were some of the key regional patterns of climatic anomalies during this time? How do they compare with 20th century patterns?
• In what specific ways does the post-1980 period, considered a time when the global warming signal is evident, different from the largest anomalous multidecadal periods of the MCA/MWP?
Clearly, they seem to be embracing the existence of the MWP, but at the same time once again they appear to be trying to figure out how to minimize it.
When you see things like this (from MBH98 co-author Malcolm K. Hughes) on the MCA/MWP:
A case will be made for the abandonment of both of them, on the grounds that they are inappropriate, uninformative, and that they very probably divert attention from more revealing ways of thinking about the Earth’s climate over the past two millennia.
And look at the attendee list and lack of press coverage, you realize it’s the same gang of people running the same game all over again.
The key is, will they learn to shoot straight this time?