Phil Jones does an about face on "statistically significant" warming

From the “make up your mind” department:

Professor Phil Jones gives evidence to the Commons science and technology committee. Photograph:

Climate warming since 1995 is now statistically significant, according to Phil Jones, the UK scientist targeted in the “ClimateGate” affair.

Last year, he told BBC News that post-1995 warming was not significant – a statement still seen on blogs critical of the idea of man-made climate change.

But another year of data has pushed the trend past the threshold usually used to assess whether trends are “real”. Dr Jones says this shows the importance of using longer records for analysis. Short summary: Post 1995 warming now “significant” according to Jones Story title: Global warming since 1995 ‘now significant’

Full story here:

Story submitted by WUWT reader Chris Phillips


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He must have sensed a change in his funding!

How Jones has the gall to call himself a “Professor” is beyond me.
He is a Common Purpose stooge taking orders from Brandon Gough, the UEA chancellor.


Using conventional (frequentist) statistical theory this is wrong, you need to specify the “stopping rule”, e.g. test now and then again in 10 years and use p value of .025 (for 5% significance using Bonferroni) – see also

Milwaukee Bob

Phil Jones?
Oh, right! The guy that since “Climate Gate” is statistically INsignificant.


How is it an “about face” and an indicator he needs to “make up [his] mind” by saying what was true in 2010 and what was true in 2011?
If I say “It’s hot today” on one day and “It’s cold today” on a different day, is that an about face too?

Bob the swiss

Typical political behavior

interesting – I just finished my report on Gibraltar (UK)……
Makes you wonder, does it not?

Jeff Mitchell

Heh, but nobody has a reason to believe him now. I don’t.


Debunked by Lucia blackboard climate

Henry chance

This from a man the is becoming less significant. Phil is going to need more drama. I also see the end of gubment funding and research money is in jeopardy.


Nothing to see here -Just more lies, manipulation and twisting in wind by one of the most discredited bought and paid for scientist in the world today.


He just said that the drop in temperatures is ‘now significant’……………….

Mikael Pihlström

What nonsense, really!
Phil Jones last year:
BBC: Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant
global warming
Phil Jones: Yes, but only just. I also calculated the trend for the period 1995 to 2009. This trend
(0.12C per decade) is positive, but not significant at the 95% significance level. The positive trend is
quite close to the significance level. Achieving statistical significance in scientific terms is much more
likely for longer periods, and much less likely for shorter periods.

We all knew that if 2010 would be a warm year the positive trend would change from over 90% to
over 95% level significance. There is no change of mind and you know it.

“And a new initiative to construct a global temperature record, based at Stanford University in California
some confusion with Berkeley….

Dan Zee

Well, hopefully, people who have done their own research on the global warming issue are laughing at Phil Jones. I’ll just run down the list of reasons why Jones and his folks are so totally wrong.
First of all, the Earth has been in an ice age for the last 3 million years with ice ages occurring every 100,000 years or so. In the last 1 billion years, the Earth has been totally free of ice for at least 600 million of those years!
Also, historically, our planet is CO2 starved. Levels have been much higher in the past, all without the intervention of man. There was just a report the other day that some of our forests are starting to show signs of recovering because CO2 levels are coming up.
The Earth’s climate is probably more tied to the Sun’s activity than CO2 levels. Mars is in danger of losing one of its ice caps because of the Sun, and even Pluto has been warming up. When the Sun’s activity diminishes, such as the two years when there were no sunspots on it, temperatures plunged.
The climate goes through cycles. The Roman Empire grew when temperatures warmed up, and it could feed extensive armies throughout Europe. Rome fell when temperatures fell in 600 AD and the Empire could no longer feed itself. The cold actually triggered the Dark Ages throughout Europe. When the climate warmed up in the Middle Ages, life became easier and civilization started to make a comeback. The Vikings discovered Iceland, Greenland and Vinland (North America) when the sea ice receded during this time. Temperatures plunged again in 1450 triggering the Little Ice Age that lasted until 1890. By some accounts, the planet is still recovering from that cool down and temperatures are nowhere near where they were during the Middle Ages.
Within the greater temperature swings there are smaller cycles. The Earth’s climate was cooling down in the 1970s, triggering the famous Newsweek cover predicting an Ice Age. Most fair-minded climatologists believe the climate cooled again from 1998-2008 despite people like Phil Jones who furiously threw out the cooler temperature data (particularly from Siberia) because it didn’t fit their agenda.
The bottom line is you can’t trust anything Phil Jones says. He’s in it for the money. There have been 0 grants in the last 20 years to people who are trying to research global cooler. Phil Jones and his buddies have been living high on the hog with 6-figure grant salaries from their phony research results.


“An about face” ? Really?

About-face: 2) A total change of attitude or viewpoint.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition

It is an about-face to turn from east to west. It is not an about-face to turn from 1 degree east of north to 1 degree west of north!
Similarly, it would have been an about-face to say we went from a statically significant cooling trend for 1995 -2010 to a significantly significant warming trend from 1995-2010. But saying we went from p = 0.055 to p = 0.045 for the statistical significance of the warming trend is hardly an about-face!
(PS I made up the p values, but presumably the actual numbers are similar to what I guesstimated. I’ll do a public about-face and apology here if the numbers went from p= 0.2 or higher to 0.02 or lower.)

Latitude says:
June 11, 2011 at 11:26 am
He just said that the drop in temperatures is ‘now significant’……………….

Yeah, that’s got me confused, too.
Since he made his first statement, the global temps have dropped a bit, haven’t they?
So now, with the recent decline, the change is significant?

It’s too bad that Phil is calculating something meaningless.

sharper00 says:
June 11, 2011 at 11:09 am
How is it an “about face” and an indicator he needs to “make up [his] mind” by saying what was true in 2010 and what was true in 2011?
If I say “It’s hot today” on one day and “It’s cold today” on a different day, is that an about face too?

Because climate is not some term weather event, as we’ve been told. If you have 6,000,000 data points, 1 is not going to drastically alter the average no matter how much of an outlier it is. The global climate average has not changed significantly between last year and this year. Consider the history of earth, it cannot go from insignificant warming to significant warming in 100 years, much less 1 year. Furthermore, if you look at the satellite data, the global temperatures have not gone up, but slightly down in the past year. So, how is it possible for significant warming to occur when global temperatures have cooled? It is a logical contradiction.


Significance of a trend could increase with time as more data comes in. So what he is saying is not impossible. The problem is that it is also wrong, as Lucia has shown.


Could we see a plot, please? All this Jones verbiage is hard to make sense of. I think he knows that.
How does the new-found warming compare with the last 100 years of warming? Were these temperatures taken by hand or by satellite? Come on, Phil, try to act like a scientist, not a press agent.

Sean Peake

(face palm) Jones is the Homer Simpson of the climate world

Sean Peake,
I thought that was James Hansen.


“. Consider the history of earth, it cannot go from insignificant warming to significant warming in 100 years, much less 1 year. “
I suggest researching what “statistical significance” is. It isn’t what you think it is.

Ron Zelius

Don’t bother about cherry-picking etc. Focus on the undoubted fact that you can’t, simply can’t re-analyze data repeatedly using standarrd statistical methods. It’s grade 1 statistics class. Don’t go there. If you do it 20 times, chances are that you’ll get a positive answer


… and besides, we’ve had a whole year to adjust the data from 1995
onward to make sure any trend we want to see would
qualify as “significant”.
This continued flurry of warmist “Team” announcements seems to
be a concerted effort to prop up perceptions of the old Hockey Stick and
it’s “verifying” spawn… by implication vindicating Mike Mann and
increasing the lobbying to have his legal troubles in Viriginia quashed.
Any e-mails that Mike had stashed in that server at the University of
Virginia with/to/from Phil Jones that didn’t make the Climategate
release are just more chickens waiting to come home to roost starting
this August.
They’re making hay while the sun don’t shine.
Sorry for the multiple metaphors.
These comments are still tough to edit.

Sean Peake

Smokey, Hansen is Barney

Charlie A

Jones failed to mention that his statement is only true for the “variance adjusted” version HadCRUT3v and not the original HadCRUT3.
I poked around the CRU website a bit but was not able to figure out when they updated to HadCRUT3v. Can someone more familiar with the datasets tell us when the variance adjusted version was released to the public?


JohnWho says:
June 11, 2011 at 11:39 am
John, He’s right, and he’s lying at the same time………
The extra year of temperature data took them through 2010, right before temperatures starting falling fast…
So he can say “Last year’s analysis, which went to 2009, did not reach this threshold; but adding data for 2010 takes it over the line.”
He won’t be able to say that next year…………….
……….and it implies that he’s too stupid to look at current temperature data
….or he’s lying


Eh.. I’m OK with it getting warmer. I like warmer weather myself. I don’t buy the “doom and gloom” stuff though associated with it. It’s not like it’s warming 1 degree per year or even every six months.. I think I can adapt at this rate.

Jimmy Haigh

Jones is a Welsh name. It snowed in Wales on Friday.

I don’t understand this post!! I don’t get it!
“Phil Jones does an about face on “statistically significant” warming” Is it because basically (in my own words) he said statistics are significant in showing a warming trend but now that they do not show a warming trend the statistics are now insignificant in showing a warming trend?


Wasn’t last year an ENSO peak? There is a strong whiff cherry-picking in this result.
Even if a “convenient” result is now available, Jones should have given the it a couple of years to become more entrenched in the data. By making this announcement, he has taken the risk that crossing of a threshold is just a short-term phenomenon. Could be more backtracking in the pipeline, given time.
Will there be a big announcement if the result goes the other way next year? I kinda doubt it. All we’ll have is the worry-squad running about bleating that Jones has declared a significant positive trend.
Watch this space folks – it will be worth coming back to.


Wade wrote:
“Consider the history of earth, it cannot go from insignificant warming to significant warming in 100 years, much less 1 year.”
Do you regard the ending of the Little Ice Age as something insignificant? Many of the recent commentators on this blog tend to discredit sceptical arguments by simply making unsubstantiated assertions or heaping abuse on climate warmists.
Jones may be wrong to claim that recent warming is statistically significant. My knowledge of statistics is not nearly good enough for me to judge. However, in principle there seems to be nothing wrong with his claim that an extra year of data could take things from just below the level of statistical significance to just over it. Therefore unless commentators have a good knowledge of statistics, or have sensible comments to make about the quality of the data, it would be sensible not to criticise him.
Even if Jones is 100% right the data would simply indicate that warming has taken place. It would not tell us what the cause or causes of that warming were.

Werner Brozek

I could be wrong here, but based on my understanding of the following graphs with their 95% levels, I completely agree with the statement: “Last year’s analysis, which went to 2009, did not reach this threshold; but adding data for 2010 takes it over the line.”
HOWEVER, in my opinion, I believe Dr. Jones was not wise to draw attention to this fact at this time. The site above has the data to the end of April and as we know, 2011 has been one of the cooler ones of the last 15 so far. And if there is no sudden heating in the next 6 months, then at the end of 2011, Dr. Jones can probably say there has been no statistical warming for 17 years.

Robert of Ottawa

I only remember Paul having one revelational reversal on the road to Damascus; our boy Phil has had two.
Or, rather, I think it went this way …..
Our Phil, long on the gravy train of global warming, admits, under pressure of public scrutiny, that, in fact, there is nothing unusual about current temperatures. He is stressed to hell and suffering.
He is given a respite … a little R & R… and now he is fortified by his colleagues and paymasters, and now states:
The recent global wearming IS significant.
The money continues to flow and his retirement now has financial security. How he will live with his conscience, as clearly he is a consciencious man, I do not know.


From the BBC article:
“By widespread convention, scientists use a minimum threshold of 95% to assess whether a trend is likely to be down to an underlying cause, rather than emerging by chance.”
This is actually not true at all. In the social sciences where data is very hard to come by, perhaps this would work. They use 2 standard-deviations (95% chance it’s not just random fluctuations) as “proof”. I know that in physics people tend to ignore anything below 3 standard deviations (99.87% chance it’s not just random) and don’t call it proof below 5 (99.99997% chance it’s not just random). This is not an about-face on the data. It is an about-face on his willingness to call it significant. He could easily have used 1 standard deviation last time and called the result “significant” if he wanted, just as he now does with 2.

Dave Springer

Is it statistically significant that there has been no warming at all since 2003?
The global ocean doesn’t lie. It hasn’t risen at all since 2003. Glacial melt and thermal expansion halted.

How fun, it turns out that the barely significant value I found turned out to be incorrect according to Dr. Jones himself. His own paper recommends using the gridded data, which does not yet reach significance – just barely.

Peter Dare

RE HenryP and Gibraltar comment, above.
The discrepancy between Gibraltar and mainland Spanish weather stations data may, in part, reflect met station site differences. For example, whereas Gibraltar and Malaga are relatively near one another and at sea level, Granada is in the sierras and over 100 miles away. The Rock of Gibraltar is often shaded for much of a sunny day beneath the famous Levanter cloud cap which ‘sits’ over the limestone peak when winds blow from the east, i.e. out of the Mediterranean Sea. Daily max temperatures in summer at Gibraltar are usually 2-3C lower than at Malaga (airport), according to Daily Telegraph daily reports. As for Tangier, in Morocco, one might expect climatic influences often to differ from those affecting Gibraltar temperatures?

Lucia and Jeff Id have done have done statistical analyses, but for those without that kind of background, let’s put things in perspective. The Global HADCRUT linear trend from Jan 1995 to Dec 2009 was 1.16 deg C per Century. The linear trend from Jan 1995 to Dec 2010 was 0.01 deg C per CENTURY higher at 1.17 deg C per Century.

Laurie Bowen

Every tornado is significant to the ones who suffer! Just like a good soaking rain is disastrous to an Ant mound!
New paper shows Western N. America drought was far more extreme and variable PRIOR to 500 years ago.
The variations; are there, have been there, and will be there!
There are patterns in the variations, but the patterns will never repeat exactly . . . as we, as an earth within a solar system, within a galaxy are in constant motion . . .
We know not where we have been in the long term . . . and WE know not where we go . . . I leave that to the astronomers to discern . . . in about 10,000 years of data . . . . of which we don’t even have a history of yet . . . . Honestly we, you, they are simply educatedly’ guessing . . .
Generally, speaking, all the constant motion, is why the sun’s heat patterns have more than just the @ 11 yr variations . . . and it is understood they are not the only considerations of climate change . . . or weather in general for that matter . . . . “Many say find the cause, and there lies the cure!” In this case it is “Find the causes, in their proper magnitudes, and there lies the future!”
In my opinion . . . of course!
ps.. the new format is very awkward for me!

Yeah, sure — this is a reliable source. Grant money runs out …

Theo Goodwin

I wonder if Jones will attempt to do climate science again? Maybe he could go to the South Pole and do a study on UHI. He did a UHI study in London. Makes about as much sense as one at the South Pole.

Tom in Florida

Yes, it’s Dr Phil “the Zombie” Jones, as in one who is trying to raise himself from the dead.
sharper00 says:
June 11, 2011 at 11:09 am
“If I say “It’s hot today” on one day and “It’s cold today” on a different day, is that an about face too?”
That’s a pretty stupid analogy.


A little station fudge here, a little station nudge there, and .o1C/Century is suddenly significant.
Phil Jones just pulled a statistically Hansenized rabbit out of the hat.
Oh what an insignificant looking web is woven.