BEST: What I agree with and what I disagree with – plus a call for additional transparency to prevent "pal" review

There’s lots of hay being made by the usual romminesque flaming bloggers, some news outlets and the like, over my disagreement with the way data was handled in one of the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) papers, the only one I got to review before yesterday’s media blitz. Apparently I’m not allowed to point out errors, and BEST isn’t allowed to correct any before release, such as the six incorrectly spelled citations of the Fall et al 2011 paper I pointed out to BEST a week earlier, which they couldn’t be bothered to fix.

And then there’s the issue of doing a 60 year study on siting, when we only guaranteed 30. Even NOAA’s Menne et al paper knew not to make such a stupid mistake. Making up data where there isn’t any is what got Steig et al into trouble in Antarctica and they got called on it by Jeff Id, Steve McIntyre, and Ryan O’Donnell in a follow on peer-reviewed paper.

But I think it’s useful to note here (since I know some other bloggers will just say “denier” and be done with it) what I do in fact agree with and accept, and what I don’t. They wanted an instant answer, before I had a chance even to read the other three papers. Media outlets were asking for my opinion even before the release of these papers, and I stated clearly that I had only seen one and I couldn’t yet comment on the others. That didn’t matter, they lumped that opinion on one I had seen into an opinion on all four.

What I agree with:

  1. The Earth is warmer than it was 100-150 years ago. But that was never in contention –  it is a straw man argument. The magnitude and causes are what skeptics question.
  2. From the BEST press release “Global Warming is real”  …see point one. Notably, “man-made global warming” was not mentioned by BEST, and in their findings they point out explicitly they didn’t address this issue as they state in this screencap from the press release:
  3. As David Whitehouse wrote: “The researchers find a strong correlation between North Atlantic temperature cycles lasting decades, and the global land surface temperature. They admit that the influence in recent decades of oceanic temperature cycles has been unappreciated and may explain most, if not all, of the global warming that has taken place, stating the possibility that the “human component of global warming may be somewhat overstated.”. Here’s a screencap from that paper:
  4. The unique BEST methodology has promise. The scalpel method used to deal with station discontinuity was a good idea and I’ve said so before.
  5. The findings of the BEST global surface analysis match the finding of other global temperature metrics. This isn’t surprising, as much of the same base raw data was used. There’s a myth that NASA GISS, HadCRUT, NOAA’s, and now Berkeley’s source data are independent of one another. That’s not completely true. They share a lot of common data from GHCN, administered by NOAA’s National Climatic Data. So it isn’t surprising at all they would match.

What I disagree with:

1. The way they dealt with my surfacestation data in analysis was flat-out wrong, and I told them so days ahead of this release. They offered no correction, nor even an acknowledgement of the issue. The issue has to do with the 60 year period they used. Both peer-reviewed papers on the subject, Menne et al 2010, and Fall et al 2011 used 30 year periods. This is a key point because nobody knows (not me, not NOAA, not BEST) what the siting quality of weather stations was 30-60 years ago. Basically they did an analysis on a time period for which metadata doesn’t exist. I’ve asked simply for them to do it on 30 years as the two peer reviewed papers did, an apples-to-apples comparison. If they do that and the result is the same, I’m satisfied. OTOH, they may find something new when done correctly, we all deserve that opportunity.

Willis Eschenbach points out this quote from the paper:

We evaluate the effect of very-rural station siting on the global average by applying the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature averaging procedure to the very-rural stations. By comparing the resulting average to that obtained by using all the stations we can quantify the impact of selecting sites not subject to urbanization on the estimated average land temperature.

He adds: That seems crazy to me. Why compare the worst stations to all stations? Why not compare them to the best stations?

2. The UHI study seems a bit strange in its approach. They write in their press release that:

They didn’t adequately deal with that 1% in my opinion, by doing a proper area weighting. And what percentage of weather stations were in that 1%? While they do have some evidence of the use of a “kriging” technique, I’m not certain is has been done properly. The fact that 33% of the sites show a cooling is certainly cause for a much harder look at this. That’s not something you can easily dismiss, though they attempt to. This will hopefully get sorted out in peer review.

3. The release method they chose, of having a media blitzkrieg of press release and writers at major MSM outlets lined up beforehand is beyond the pale. While I agree with Dr. Muller’s contention that circulating papers among colleagues for wider peer review is an excellent idea, what they did with the planned and coordinated (and make no mistake it was coordinated for October 20th, Liz Muller told me this herself) is not only self-serving grandiosity, but quite risky if peer review comes up with a different answer.

The rush to judgment they fomented before science had a chance to speak is worse than anything I’ve ever seen, and from my early dealings with them, I can say that I had no idea they would do this, otherwise I would not have embraced them so openly. A lie of omission is still a lie, and I feel that I was not given the true intentions of the BEST group when I met with them.

So there you have it, I accept their papers, and many of their findings, but disagree with some methods and results as is my right. It will be interesting to see if these survive peer review significantly unchanged.

One thing we can count on that WON’T normally be transparent is the peer review process, and if that process includes members of the “team” who are well versed enough to but already embracing the results such as Phil Jones has done, then the peer review will turn into “pal review”.

The solution is to make the names of the reviewers known. Since Dr. Muller and BEST wish to upset the apple cart of scientific procedure, putting public review before peer review, and because they make this self-assured and most extraordinary claim in their press release:

That’s some claim. Four papers that have not been peer-reviewed yet, and they KNOW they’ll pass peer review and will be in the next IPCC report? Is it just me or does that sound rigged? Or, is it just the product of an overactive ego on the part of the BEST group?

I say, if BEST and Dr. Muller truly believes in a transparent approach, as they state on the front page of their website…

…let’s make the peer review process transparent so that there is no possibility of “pal review” to ramrod this through without proper science being done.

Since Dr. Muller claims this is “one of the most important questions ever”, let’s deal with it in an open a manner as possible. Ensuring that these four papers get a thorough and non-partisan peer review is the best way to get the question answered.

Had they not made the claim I highlighted above of it passing peer review and being in the next IPCC report before any of that even is decided, I would never think to ask for this. That overconfident claim is a real cause for concern, especially when the media blitzkrieg they launched makes it difficult for any potential review scientists to not notice and read these studies and news stories ahead of time, thus becoming biased by media coverage.

We can’t just move the “jury pool” of scientists to the next county to ensure a fair trial now that is been blathered worldwide can we?

Vote on it:

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Are the reviews of Fall et al 2011 open?
REPLY: I have no objection. You are welcome to go ask the editor, Joost Degouw at JGR, who is also handling the BEST reviews.I’d like to know myself who reviewed Fall et al. I’ve suspected somebody at NCDC was involved, so I’m glad you want to find out. Go for it Nick!. – Anthony

Thanks.
Point 3 of what you disagree with: should that say October 20th?

JT

I nominate Steve McIntyre and William M. Briggs as peer reviewers.

Third line:
” they only one I got to review”
should be “the only one…”
What I disagree with, Item #1:
“This is a key point because we nobody knows …”
should be “This is a key point because nobody knows…”
Just tryin’ to help.

Why does the data in the graphic stop at 2006? Anyone know why?

Willis is onto something vis a vis the UHI work.
———
“Willis Eschenbach points out this quote from the paper:
We evaluate the effect of very-rural station siting on the global average by applying the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature averaging procedure to the very-rural stations. By comparing the resulting average to that obtained by using all the stations we can quantify the impact of selecting sites not subject to urbanization on the estimated average land temperature.
He adds: That seems crazy to me. Why compare the worst stations to all stations? Why not compare them to the best stations?
——–
Crazy like a fox…I posted this at Bishop Hill’s. Like many moves in this game the comparison may very well show the butcher’s thumb on the scale:
“I read through the UHI paper and was more than a little surprised that Muller et al apparently compared these two sets of stations:
“very rural” and “all (including very rural)”. This procedure, comparing something to itself plus other stuff seemed odd.
How odd? Well, consider the following:
Imagine 5 “very rural” stations with average temps of +1,0,0,-1,1 for an average temp of 1/5=.2
Now consider 5 “not rural” stations with average temps of +2,+1,+3,0,-1 for an average 5/5=1.0
Quite a difference.
However that difference is reduced if you calculate the average of the “Not rural” plus the “very rural” which would be 6/10=.6
Now, obviously these are simplified made up values; but the point is that there was no need to add the “very rural” stations back into “the rest” if you are trying to compare trends. And, in fact, it appears to be a logical error.

> Since Dr. Muller claims this is “one of the most important questions ever”, …
I get the strong sense that the BEST team “knows” they’re good, knows they’re right, and knows they are addressing “one of the most important questions ever.” Therefore it’s logical that they announce their results far and wide as soon as they’re available. And probably didn’t even consider someone might refer to their study as “non-peer reviewed.”
At least Pons & Fleischman held their press conference in large part to establish primacy after getting with that Steven Jones at BYU (I think that’s right) was working on an interesting cold fusion paper himself. (It turned out to be interesting and orthogonal – about tritium in volcanic gases. I forget where that research ended up.)
Perhaps BEST just likes the attention, perhaps they’re trying to lead the hype to Durban (Nov 28 to Dec 9). Perhaps they’ll learn that pride goeth before the fall.

HB

Anthony, I truly admire your ethical and dignified stance in the midst of this farce!
Surely any editor who has received these BEST papers should resign now and apologise to Kevin Trenberth, given the precedent caused by Wagner?
ROFL

Toto

BEST got $623,097 funding for this.
http://judithcurry.com/2011/10/20/berkeley-surface-temperatures-released/#comment-125004
Imagine what Anthony and his volunteers could have done with that amount of funding.
Imagine if that amount was spent on actually fixing the bad sites.

Kasuha

“The fact that 33% of the sites show a cooling is certainly cause for a much harder look at this. That’s not something you can easily dismiss, though they attempt to.”
I was taking a look at that thing some time ago (it’s not new information that 1/3 of stations shows cooling) and my conclusion was, it’s caused by the fact that the amplitude of global warming is comparable with (actually about half of) amplitude of statistical error. Or in other words, amplitude of chaotic temperature changes is about two times the amplitude of deterministic temperature changes (i.e. warming).

Bill Illis

There is something strange about how this was all rushed out before it was ready – spelling mistakes, unusual errors such as the 60 year time-line, open and transparent database that noone can download yet – the complete 39,000 dataset trend is only produced on their website versus included in the papers – peer review not done yet.
Judith Curry comments that they didn’t want to get scooped. Scooped by who, scooped how exactly. I note the NCDC has done some scooping before. What is the back-story to how this was rolled-out in such an unplanned way? I understand BEST was trying to get this out earlier in the year and maybe deadlines crept up faster that expected but there is something about this that we don’t know yet.

Louis

Here’s their stated goal according to the BEST project website:
“Our aim is to resolve current criticism of the former temperature analyses, and to prepare an open record that will allow rapid response to further criticism or suggestions…”
It sounds like they set out to vindicate analyses of the current temperature data and blunt any future criticism. Am I misreading their intentions?

DavidK

Did not Roy Spencer pre-publish for PAL review on this very site?

Stephen Singer

I just watched the video clip of temp anomalies since the early 1800’s thru 2009. Does it strike anyone else as rather odd that that there is plenty of variation from the blues to the reds till roughly 2000 when everything became mostly red to very red.?

The approach to the UHI work seems reasonable to me. The question that we want the answer to is “what is the impact of UHI on the global trend?” By attempting to remove urban station from the dataset (about 1/2 of the stations) and the comparing the resulting rural subset with the entire set you get a good idea of the impact on the overall trend.
Since the overall effect of the UHI on the dataset is basically 0, confirming other studies, it really wasn’t worth looking at any further. However, the code and data is all available, knock your socks off. Just remember that the important question is not the absolute temperature effects, but only the effect of the UHI on temperature anomaly trends. Urban heat islands have a large effect of absolute temperature, the question is whether there is much effect on the trend.

barry

Thanks for laying out your PsOV, Anthony.
“Since Dr. Muller and BEST wish to upset the apple cart of scientific procedure, putting public review before peer review..”
You will therefore recommend upsetting the apple cart of peer-review even further by removing the anonymity of reviewers? An alternative reading here is that we get to see the papers before and after review, and be witness to how they are corrected. They will let their mistakes be aired to the public also. In purely scientific terms, this is much more open than the usual process.
There’s no doubt in my mind that the media blitz of their pre-reviewed papers is wrong. It appears to have forced you, unfortunately, to call for a further abandoning of the proper process. This may be good politics, but puts you in opposition to the normal peer-review process, which you have otherwise maintained should be upheld – having learned to your cost the perils of circumventing it (per your comments in the other thread).
I propose an alternative. The papers should pass through two peer-review processes. One should be the normal anonymous review, satisfying the journal’s obligations, and the other should be an open peer-review, Care should be taken that they are not created or seen as competitive, but complimentary.
Because scientific imprimatur is given if the journal selects its reviewers, the journal should choose all six reviewers, three anonymous, and three open. This not only satisfies Wattians and mainstreamers, it also lends twice the assistance to strengthening the papers.
Does this seem equitable?
REPLY: Interesting, but only if the journal would be bound by the idea that the paper has to pass both reviews to be published, otherwise they just walk right by it while thumbing their nose at open public review. – Anthony

Jeremy

Their behavior thus far is actually the same method of dealing with the media that the IPCC uses. They release the (pre-review conclusions) SPM before the full report so that the masses see the conclusions. After that, who cares what is found in the actual report by experts, everyone already believes them, right? After all, they’re some of the experts and they wouldn’t let their work be misrepresented in the media? The killer is the fact that they can actually say that with a straight face, since an un-reviewed paper isn’t their final work.

Jeremy

Stephen Singer says:
October 21, 2011 at 6:27 pm
I just watched the video clip of temp anomalies since the early 1800′s thru 2009. Does it strike anyone else as rather odd that that there is plenty of variation from the blues to the reds till roughly 2000 when everything became mostly red to very red.?

Actually, what struck me was the absurd amount of smearing early on. I mean, 1/3rd of the U.S. is covered by their first thermometer? Did they adjust their resolution later? If so, what determines their resolution, do they have a function wrt to time for it?

Willis Eschenbach

Rattus Norvegicus says:
October 21, 2011 at 6:28 pm (Edit)

… Urban heat islands have a large effect of absolute temperature, the question is whether there is much effect on the trend.

Surely you see the logical problem with that claim, Rattus? Hint. There was a time before the urban temperature rose …
w.

CTD

The UHI paper shows the “very-rural” sections with a significantly greater warming trend. Obviously global warming must be thwarted by paving those areas.

CTD says:
October 21, 2011 at 7:05 pm
The UHI paper shows the “very-rural” sections with a significantly greater warming trend. Obviously global warming must be thwarted by paving those areas.

So, to prevent CAGW, all we need to do is
pave paradise and put up a parking lot.

Nicanuk

Frank Lasner has developed a world wide, unadjusted, rural temperature index.
http://joannenova.com.au/2011/10/messages-from-the-global-raw-rural-data-warnings-gotchas-and-tree-ring-divergence-explained/#more-18275
A guest post at Jo Nova with implications for the rural/UHI question. I know this should be in TIPs but I feel it is relevant to your argument if you have not had a chance to see it yet.
No surprises, coastal stations match GISS ocean data.
However, inland, rural stations have behaved very differently over the instrument record (1880 to date) and Lasner correlates them with terrestrial glacier advance and retreat, greenland glacier melt rates and seal level variation over the instrument period . With a tip to Willis vs Grinsted Lasner’s correlation goes up and down with the sea level unlike that naughy trace gas.

HaroldW

Russ Steele asked, “Why does the data in the graphic stop at 2006?”
I’m assuming you’re referring to this graphic; there was a similar one published with The Economist article. The curves are 10-year moving averages, which are plotted at the midpoint of the 10-year interval. The BEST results (here) include monthly data up to and including May 2010. The last 10-year sliding window is centered at May 2005.

Nicanuk

Ooops, typo but I guess if sea level is changing then so is the seal level.

carrot eater

“The rush to judgment they fomented before science had a chance to speak is worse than anything I’ve ever seen”
Consider the conclusion of Watts, 2009, in a well-publicised but not-peer-reviewed publication,
“The conclusion is inescapable: The U.S. temperature record is unreliable. And since the
U.S. record is thought to be “the best in the world,” it follows that the global database is
likely similarly compromised and unreliable.”
Looks to me like a rush to judgment, combined with publicity-seeking, before “science had a chance to speak.”; in fact, before there was much of any mathematical testing to support the conclusion. Care to comment?
REPLY: Sure, the booklet wasn’t destined for peer review and the conclusions weren’t supposed to be mathematical for it, but qualitative, and the recent GAO report agrees with my conclusions in that booklet.
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/09/30/gao-report-on-the-poor-quality-of-the-us-climate-monitoring-network/
Clearly, THEY took it seriously, even if you and your rabbet friends do not.
Of course people like yourself that operate in the shadows behind fake names would much rather just ignore such problems and sweep them under the rug and not deal with them. The fact that NOAA has also systemically followed our survey and closed dozens of stations (or removed the thermometer while retaining the rain gauge) also shows that they know the station(s) are unreliable. I recall Tom Peterson of NCDC writing a big hullaballoo report claiming how Marysville (the station that started this all) was just fine. Guess what? Yep NOAA closed it: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/06/10/an-old-friend-put-out-to-pasture-marysville-is-no-longer-a-climate-station-of-record/
Finally, the biggest proof of the USHCN network being unreliable is the fact that NCDC commissioned and built the Climate Reference Network, so that they would have a truly accurate network. In their own words from the Climate Reference Network Handbook in 2002:
The research community, government agencies, and private businesses have identified
significant shortcomings in understanding and examining long-term climate trends and change
over the U.S. and surrounding regions. Some of these shortcomings are due to the lack of
adequate documentation of operations and changes regarding the existing and earlier observing
networks, the observing sites, and the instrumentation over the life of the network. These
include inadequate overlapping observations when new instruments were installed and not using
well-maintained, calibrated high-quality instruments.

Source: http://www1.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/uscrn/documentation/program/X030FullDocumentD0.pdf
You don’t build a second independent network if the primary is doing just fine, now do you? Read some of the money pleadings for that one and you’ll see why NCDC knew there was a real problem, they just hoped nobody would notice. Too late.
So not only does the GAO think there’s a problem, but so does NOAA and NCDC, where their actions speak louder than words. Oh, and we’ve already surveyed part of GHCN, and it has even worse problems. Now scurry off to the hole you live in, rodent.
– Anthony

Sun Spot

Why does the “Decadel land-surface average temperature” graph stop at 2005 ??
This is almost 2012 why have they dropped 7 years of data ???

Jeremy

Rattus Norvegicus says:
October 21, 2011 at 6:28 pm
Urban heat islands have a large effect of absolute temperature, the question is whether there is much effect on the trend.

Yeah, I’m with Willis on that one. This is fairly silly to put in the same sentence considering there was a time when urban centers did not contribute to the overall temperature, and our urban centers have been growing.

KenB

This sounds very much like an issue I discussed some time ago with a friend (a scientific technician) who was involved in setting up experiments scientists at a certain major Australian University. It was a quite common response when the :”first run” of the experiment gave favourable results they would say “that’s enough stop” but as the technician explained to them, there was little cost in actually running the the process repeatedly over the next 48 hours as the main cost had been absorbed in the set up, therefore it would be silly to abandon after one run. As he explained to them, the ability to repeat the result would give their paper much more credibility, so they reluctantly yielded and waited anxiously for the confirmed results.
Of course some “scientists of worth” might consider themselves sufficient authority and excellence above all else to ignore technical or mathematical advice, after all they know what they want!!
We were discussing the mad rush to get poor results into the media and the sloppy work that can result.
Perhaps nervous desire dominated this research?

Willis,
Quite frankly, I don’t see a problem with the approach. Increasing urbanization is accounted for by not including sites ranked as urban in the “very-rural” set. This means that the trend due to increasing urbanization is included in the full dataset and factored out in the subset.

jimmi_the_dalek

Why on earth do you think that ‘peer review’ consists only of getting comments from the journal referees? It is a much wider process that continues after publication, and it is not confined to the initial referees’ comments. These papers are undergoing ‘peer review’ right here right now, and clearly some of you do not like them. The ultimate ‘peer review’ however consists of those subsequent papers which are published commenting, favorably or unfavorably, on the original. So go publish something.
REPLY: Why on Earth do you think it is OK to list conclusions to the media prior to the papers being released to the public for that “extra review” you claim, and prior to publishing peer review? That’s what they did. Papers went out to MSM days before October 20th, and I got calls to comment on 3 papers I had not seen.
Explain how that is OK. Of course if it were “I” that had “published something” and done it that way, I’d be excoriated for doing so because we all know there are two sets of rules for:
People saving the planet rule: “end justifies the means”
Those rotten anti-science skeptics rule: “Peer review with impossibly high bar”
So go get a box of scruples or something – Anthony

Rattus.
The data is actually not all available. To assess their categorization of urban and rural you need access to modis 500 data and you need a list of stations they categorized as rural.
It takes some doing but the dataset is available but you have to do some footwork to get it. I’m pretty sure, given what I went through to get it that most people would not be able to.
There are some other points to be made here. i’ll save them for now

Legatus

Anthony:
Apparently, you are not aware of this:
Muller & Associates
Richard Muller , President and Chief Scientist

GreenGov is a service offered by Muller & Associates
Helping governments build energy strategies that are right for them
Government energy policy is increasingly confounded by the complex interplay of international treaties, fluctuating prices, declining reserves, and a rapidly growing array of technological developments. Energy policy involves economics, energy security, and climate change. For some initiatives, these issues may be addressed simultaneously. For others the potential solutions might be in direct conflict. Coal, as one example, is abundant in some countries, but it is also a strong emitter of carbon dioxide
Clean Energy – demystifying emerging technologies and avoiding costly “misinvestments
We know that in order to be effective, solutions must be sustainable.

Hats what they say, here is what you said:

3. The release method they chose, of having a media blitzkrieg of press release and writers at major MSM outlets lined up beforehand is beyond the pale. While I agree with Dr. Muller’s contention that circulating papers among colleagues for wider peer review is an excellent idea, what they did with the planned and coordinated (and make no mistake it was coordinated for March 20th, Liz Muller told me this herself) is not only self-serving grandiosity, but quite risky if peer review comes up with a different answer.
The rush to judgment they fomented before science had a chance to speak is worse than anything I’ve ever seen, and from my early dealings with them, I can say that I had no idea they would do this, otherwise I would not have embraced them so openly. A lie of omission is still a lie, and I feel that I was not given the true intentions of the BEST group when I met with them.
That’s some claim. Four papers that have not been peer-reviewed yet, and they KNOW they’ll pass peer review and will be in the next IPCC report? Is it just me or does that sound rigged? Or, is it just the product of an overactive ego on the part of the BEST group?

Now do you begin to understand? Look above, their website, they call it greenGov, sounds like a mixture of green and government to me, sound like skeptics to you? They want to “help” you avoid “climate change” (their words) to avoid “carbon dioxide” (their words), sound like skeptics? They want to help you with “clean energy” and to be “sustainable”, (their words”, sound like skeptics? They have a prior agreement to appear in the IPCC report (that’s sure what it sounds like), sound like skeptics to you?
Sooo, why might they have a media blitz? It’s rather obvious, actually, Muller & Associates wants business, and the BEST project assures that they will get it. Having a media blitz, and actually being in the IPCC report, sets them up as “the experts”, you know, the ones to call if you need “help” (P.S., bring cash). Does it begin to make sense now?
And they want you associated with them, you and Judith Curry, and as many other bigger name skeptics as they can get. That way they can say, “see, even the skeptics agree with us, we are that good”. That way, they can even get business with people who are somewhat skeptical, which is at least half of them now. Hey, double the business of all those other companies, who wouldn”t want that?
You say that some people are going overboard (“There’s lots of hay being made by the usual romminesque flaming bloggers”), suspecting the BEST people of bad motives, then you come here and provide practically definitive proof that, yes, they are doing exactly that. Look at their own website, figure it out for yourself.
Well, thats what it looks like to me, I would sure love to be proven wrong, but if this thing gets pal reviewed, and gets into the next IPCC report, that’s pretty much an open and shut case.

Jeremy

As soon as someone has their dataset for how they classified temp sensors in Southern California, let me know, I’ve got a couple good GPS units and a thomas guide. I’ll do what they were unwilling to do, photograph the sites they chose as “rural”. Based on that map in one of their papers, I’m nearly certain there’s some good candidates for questioning.

jimmi_the_dalek

Anthony, Did I say that I approved of the way the BEST papers were pre-published? No? Then do not make assumptions please.
The simplest way to publish something is as a comment to the same journal. As soon as the papers officially appear, submit a criticism. You actually have an advantage – you have already seen these papers.

Septic Matthew

Anthony,
I have a favor to ask: I have been following up on Willis Eschenbach’s work presented here:
http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/tao-triton-all-buoys-warm-cold.jpg
I am getting results that are unexpected. Could you please send him my email and ask if he would be willing to send me his data and R code. Alternatively, I could send him my data, SAS code, and results, but most likely I can read his R code better than he can read my SAS code. Actually, anything he would care to communicate to me I would be willing to read. I thought that he had put up his data and R code for that post, but in searching I have not found it.
yours truly,
Matthew R. Marler, PhD (statistics, Carnegie-Mellon University)
most of my work has been in nonstationary behavioral and biological time series.
REPLY: Done – Anthony

u.k.(us)

Ummm,
Let’s not lose our focus here.
Temperatures are not, in the U.S., (or as measured in the developing world, with their long and accurate data), rising at a rate exceeding natural variability.
There are political and capitalistic forces looking to expand their reach, by exploiting any method to drive opinion.
The thing they fear most, is the voter.

juanslayton

Mosher,
I’d be happy to see that list of rural stations. Is it possible for someone to provide a list or a link to the list?

juanslayton

Jeremy: I’ll do what they were unwilling to do, photograph the sites they chose as “rural”.
You’ll have to get in line….
: < )

Theo Goodwin

“The rush to judgment they fomented before science had a chance to speak is worse than anything I’ve ever seen, and from my early dealings with them, I can say that I had no idea they would do this, otherwise I would not have embraced them so openly.”
I think that last word, ‘openly’, is not what you want. I think you mean “innocently” or “fully.”

Bernie McCune

I realize that the discussion on this thread is very focused but I think that eventually we must finally look at these issues in a wider view. I did a presentation last year that looked at the land use of the earth and found some interesting land use information about forests-32%, pastures-26%, arable land-10.6%, urban areas-2.4% and other-29% (of which deserts make up the more than half of this “other” category).
I’ve lifted the few slides from the Urban part of the presentation. It mostly shows that the definition of urban areas is still in flux and is often controversial. I wanted to see if we used a fairly liberal definition of an urban area what percent of the earth would be represented. I suspect that historical surface temperature measurement sites might be encompassed or very near these urban areas especially as these areas have been spreading out to surround the older sites. As controversial as definitions might be, I suspect that defining 1% of earth’s land area as urban is too low and does not represent the present reality.
•Surface of the Earth is water 70.8% (361.132 million km2 ) and land 29.2% (148.94 million km2 )
DISCUSSION OF URBAN ISSUES
•Until recently most studies have used 1.5% of global land as urban (CIA Factbook included)
•The definition of urban seems to wander between the use of population density (preferred), light pixels at night, and/or surface disruption characterizations
•With the advent of more detailed satellite image analysis new values of land use seem to favor a higher value of perhaps 3%
•Some reliable sources claim that 3% has been fudged too high and that 2.4% is probably closer to the correct number
•2.4% = 3.575 million km2
•There is some controversy on this point but I expect to see more effort and greater accuracy of this value in the next few years
•In 2010 about half the world’s population lived in urban areas (3.5 billion) while about 3.4 billion lived in rural areas
•I found a study that estimated that roads and parking lots covered between 1.5 to 2% of the world’s land surface
•I am assuming that a significant portion of roads and parking lots are already included in the 2.4% value of urban land use
CONCLUSION (Relating to the Urban part of the presentation)
•Land use questions grew out of climate issues and questions about where surface temperatures were being measured (mostly in urban areas?)
•Does surface temperature measurement (especially if it is mostly done in cities) tell us much about global climate?
Bernie

Theo Goodwin

“They didn’t adequately deal with that 1% [Earth’s urban regions] in my opinion, by doing a proper area weighting. And what percentage of weather stations were in that 1%?”
On this question, Warmista have done nothing but duck, weave, and, if necessary, sit down on the mat. There is a crucial ambiguity in the claim that UHI does not contribute to average land temperature rise.
One interpretation of the claim is that the heat generated by urban regions does not contribute to average land temperature rise. That claim is most likely true but is logically independent of the other interpretation.
The other interpretation is the claim that UHI does not disproportionately affect the thermometers that are used to measure the temperatures that are raw data for calculations of average land temperature rise.
That second claim about the impact of urban growth on thermometers has not been investigated except in Anthony’s work and the data for it stretches back only 30 years. That claim defies the highly educated and focused common sense of a multitude of sceptics who are residents of metropolitan areas.
For example, the claim that thermometers in the Atlanta area have not been overwhelmed by UHI is preposterous. Thermometers in Douglas, Paulding, Cobb, Forsyth, and Gwinnett counties were all rural 30 years ago but are all urban now. All those counties are north or west of Fulton and Dekalb counties which made up the Atlanta metropolitan area in 1968. In addition, the claim that encroaching urban areas cause a one-time jump in the record of each thermometer is preposterous. The growth of urban areas is incremental and continues for decades. Cobb County has warmed incrementally from urbanization since I first moved there in 1968.
In summary, the claim that the percentage of weather stations found in urban areas has grown greatly in the last 30 years and caused there to be a disproportionate number of all weather stations in urban areas has not been investigated. The only evidence relevant to the claim is the evidence that Anthony has collected over the last 30 years. BEST simply blew off the question entirely.

barry

Anthony, you state that the GAO agreed with your conclusions that “The U.S. temperature record is unreliable.” But GAO did not assess that.
This is from the conclusions in the GAO report.

NOAA also stated that it understood that, given the scope of our review, we did not assess the effect of stations not meeting siting standards on the reliability of the agency’s analysis of temperature trends. Nevertheless, NOAA added that it was important for our findings to include a discussion of the published peer-reviewed studies that have explicitly examined the USHCN’s data quality and its effects on the reliability of NOAA’s temperature trend data. We did not include such a discussion in our report because this issue was outside the scope of our work.

It is unscientific to assume NOAA has failed to winnow a reliable temperature record from problematic data. This is where quantitative analysis must be done, not qualitative. You also cite NOAA’s own 2002 directive on the USCRN. Here again, this points to shortcomings with the data and siting, but is not a ‘conclusion’ that NOAA’s temperature record, which tries to overcome problems with the data, is unreliable. The latest quantitative assessment shows that there is very close agreement between USHCN and USCRN. This is not proof positive that the temp record is reliable – although it does corroborate – but certainly there is little evidence from proper quantitative analyses that the record is unreliable.
It is important not to forgo accuracy in the heat of this debate. GAO does not support your conclusion on the (non)reliability of the US temp record. It does support your observations on siting issues. You were right in the other thread to say that your previous, non-peer reviewed conclusions were hasty. Don’t let your enemies, real or imagined, encourage you to muddy objective analysis with politics.
(I have offered the same advice to the ‘other side’, most recently at Deltoid. If this game of tribes is to abate it will require discipline from all participants, whatever the extenuating circumstances)

Jerry

In my view, Richard Muller has lost all credibility. In fact, I’d go so far as to call him a vile hypocrite.
To quote him,
“Some people lump the properly sceptical in with the deniers and that makes it easy to dismiss them, because the deniers pay no attention to science. But there have been people out there who have raised legitimate issues.”
Deniers pay no attention to science? Really? In this case, he has deliberately, consciously chosen to circumvent the scientific process, and yet he has the nerve to claim that a “denier” such as me ignores the science. Bunk. Well, if he has the audacity to label me a denier and claim that I ignore the science, I think I certainly ought to be able to label him a vile hypocrite. And, I’d like to point out, he did a lot more than ignore the science. He deliberately, knowingly, and very consciously circumvented the scientific process.
My speculation is that he ignored the scientific process simply because he knows that he can get away with it. He knows the global warming true believers will never call him on it. He knows the news media certainly won’t call him on it. He knows that his university’s administration will never call him on it (and will very likely reward him, as this will no doubt bring in research money and good publicity). He knows that his fellow physics faculty will absolutely never call him on it. He knows that he’s been tenured a very long time, so the usual standards and rules don’t apply to him. (Just imagine what would happen to a younger, freshly-minted Ph.D. in his department, who deliberately circumvented peer review! His career would be over instantly.) He knows he’s privileged, and he’s using his status to deliberately destroy the scientific process.
I used to respect this man, and I enjoyed his first book. No longer.

Juanslayton.
I would like to see the list as well. The problem is we dont have the list of stations they counted as rural. While I have the Modis500 data I would need their complete list and the ones they counted as very rural to double check.
There are NON TRIVIAL issues working with Modis data. Its very good data. In fact its the best at doing this work. However, there are two tricky issues

Theo Goodwin

“That’s some claim. Four papers that have not been peer-reviewed yet, and they KNOW they’ll pass peer review and will be in the next IPCC report? Is it just me or does that sound rigged? Or, is it just the product of an overactive ego on the part of the BEST group?”
Yes, it is now incumbent upon BEST to ask that the names of their reviewers be revealed. BEST has given us reason to believe that they are receiving PAL review. They should be willing to go on record asking the editor to reveal the names.

Theo Goodwin

jimmi_the_dalek says:
October 21, 2011 at 8:05 pm
“Why on earth do you think that ‘peer review’ consists only of getting comments from the journal referees? It is a much wider process that continues after publication, and it is not confined to the initial referees’ comments.”
You are making up your own meanings on the fly. Peer Review is managed by a journal editor to serve the purposes of the journal editor. The journal editor will usually accept the recommendations of his peer reviewers though he is not obligated to do so. Once the journal editor has decided that peer review is finished for a particular submission then it is. There is nothing else in the world of scientific journals that qualifies as “peer review.”
Once an article has been published, the authors have received all professional benefits that can flow from that article. Most authors will not read published replies to an article unless it is written by someone who is prominent in the field. To talk of “peer review” after publication is silly romanticism.

Dennis Dunton

I really hate to say this….but given your experience with NOAA were you not…..never mind. “First time…shame on you….second time ….shame on me.
Third time will be the previously mentioned association with Kevin Trenberth which, unless I’m mistaken, will yield you nothing but more heartache.
REPLY: It has been cancelled, see the thread on it – Anthony

Nick Stokes says:
October 21, 2011 at 5:23 pm
Are the reviews of Fall et al 2011 open?
REPLY: I have no objection. You are welcome to go ask the editor, Joost Degouw at JGR, who is also handling the BEST reviews.I’d like to know myself who reviewed Fall et al. I’ve suspected somebody at NCDC was involved, so I’m glad you want to find out. Go for it Nick!. – Anthony

Not only should the names be public, but the text of the review as well, and that text you do have, so in the name of transparency, publish it here. I do not buy the lame argument that the text is the property of the reviewers and cannot be published without their consent.

barry, good advice.

barry

I nominate Steve McIntyre and William M. Briggs as peer reviewers.

Steve Mosher and Nick Stokes.