This will be a top sticky post for a day or two – new stories appear below this one.
In the over 7,000 published stories here on WUWT, I have never used the word “liar” in the headline to refer to CRU and the Yamal affair. That changes with this story.
I’ve always thought that with CRU, simple incompetence is a more likely explanation than malice and/or deception. For example, Phil Jones can’t even plot trends in Excel. In this particular case, I don’t think incompetence is the plausible explanation anymore. As one commenter on CA (Andy) said
“I suspect the cause of all this is an initial small lie, to cover intellectual mistakes, snowballing into a desire not to lose face, exacerbated by greater lies and compounded by group think. “
Given what I’ve witnessed and recalled from the history of the Yamal affair with Steve McIntyre’s latest investigation, I’m now quite comfortable applying the label of “liar” to the CRU regarding their handling of data, of accusations, and of FOIA.
In my opinion, these unscrupulous climate scientists at CRU deserve our scorn, and if UEA had any integrity, they’d be reprimanded and/or shown the door. But as we’ve seen with the handling of the Muir Russell sham “investigation”, key questions to key players weren’t even asked about key points of evidence. For example, Muir Russell didn’t even bother attending the one interview (April 9) in which Jones and Briffa were supposed to be asked about paleoclimate. So UEA/CRU will probably just try to gloss this over with another lie too. – Anthony Watts
McIntyre: Yamal FOI Sheds New Light on Flawed Data
Phil Jones’ first instinct on learning about Climategate was that it was linked to the Yamal controversy that was in the air in the weeks leading up to Climategate. I had speculated that CRU must have done calculations for Yamal along the lines of the regional chronology for Taimyr published in Briffa et al 2008. CRU was offended and issued sweeping denials, but my surmise was confirmed by an email in the Climategate dossier. Unfortunately neither Muir Russell nor Oxburgh investigated the circumstances of the withheld regional chronology, despite my submission drawing attention to this battleground issue.
I subsequently submitted an FOI request for the Yamal-Urals regional chronology and a simple list of sites used in the regional chronology. Both requests were refused by the University of East Anglia. I appealed to the Information Commissioner (ICO).
A week ago, the Information Commissioner notified the University of East Anglia that he would be ruling against them on my longstanding FOI request for the list of sites used in the Yamal-Urals regional chronology referred to in a 2006 Climategate email. East Anglia accordingly sent me a list of the 17 sites used in the Yamal-Urals regional chronology (see here). A decision on the chronology itself is pending. In the absence of the chronology itself, I’ve done an RCS calculation, the results of which do not yield a Hockey Stick.
In today’s post, I’ll also show that important past statements and evidence to Muir Russell by CRU on the topic have been either untruthful or deceptive.
The Relevance of Yamal
The Yamal chronology is relevant both because, since its introduction in 2000, it has been used in virtually all of the supposedly “independent” IPCC multiproxy studies (see an October 2009 discussion here) and because it is particularly influential in contributing an HS-shape to the studies that do not use bristlecones.
IPCC AR4 Box 6.4 showed the eight proxies which have been used the most repetitively (this wasn’t its intent.) Of these eight proxies, Briffa’s Yamal (labelled “NW Russia”) is shown with the biggest HS blade, larger even than Mann’s PC1 (labelled here as “W USA”). See here) and tag yamal.
Figure 1. Yamal Chronology in IPCC AR4 Box 6.4. Labelled as “NW Russia”
In previous posts, I’ve satirized the “addiction” of paleoclimatologists to bristlecones and Yamal as, respectively, heroin and cocaine for climatologists. (In pharmacological terms, upside-down Tiljander would be, I guess, LSD, as the psychedelic Mann et al 2008 is indifferent as to whether proxies are used upside-down or not (cue Jefferson Airplane‘s insightful critique of Mannian statistics.)
Although Yamal and Polar Urals had been long-standing topics at Climate Audit, they first attracted wide attention in late September 2009, when measurement data became available for the three “regional chronologies” of Briffa et al 2008 (Taimyr-Avam, Tornetrask-Finland and Yamal).
The 2008 Taimyr-Avam and Tornetrask-Finland networks were dramatic expansions of the corresponding networks of Briffa (2000), but the Yamal network, which was already much smaller than the other two networks, remained unchanged. Analysis of the previously unavailable Taimyr data showed that Briffa had added measurement data from several Schweingruber sites into the Taimyr-Avam regional chronology (a point not mentioned in the article itself.) Since there were a number of Schweingruber sites (including Polar Urals) in a similarly sized region around Yamal, it seemed almost certain that CRU would have done a corresponding regional chronology calculation at Yamal.
This raised the obvious question of why. Ross posed the question in a contemporary op ed as follows:
Combining data from different samples would not have been an unusual step. Briffa added data from another Schweingruber site to a different composite, from the Taimyr Peninsula. The additional data were gathered more than 400 km away from the primary site. And in that case the primary site had three or four times as many cores to begin with as the Yamal site. Why did he not fill out the Yamal data with the readily-available data from his own coauthor? Why did Briffa seek out additional data for the already well-represented Taimyr site and not for the inadequate Yamal site?
The question applied not just to the Khadyta River site in the original CA post, but to Polar Urals and other nearby sites. These questions resulted in considerable controversy at the time. CRU protested their innocence and posted a lengthy response on October 29, 2009, denying that they had ever even “considered” use of the Schweingruber Khadyta River site, discussed in contemporary Climate Audit posts. In a submission to Muir Russell, they later denied ever re-appraising their Polar Urals chronology.
The Climategate dossier was released in November 2009, a few weeks after the Yamal controversy. As Fred Pearce observed in The Climate Files, the Climategate dossier begins with Yamal and ends with Yamal. Pearce also observed that the word “Yamal” occurs more often than any other “totem” of the disputes, even more than “hockey stick”. Nearly all Climategate documents with unbleached dates were copied after my Yamal posts and Yamal measurement data dominated the earliest documents.
The Climategate dossier revealed that CRU had, after all, calculated a Yamal-Urals regional chronology as early as April 2006. (CG1 – 684. 1146252894.txt). The present FOI request referred to this email.
Read the entire story at Climate Audit here. It is a MUST READ for anyone who has been following Climategate.
My sincerest congratulations to Steve McIntyre for the perseverance to finally get this issue brought into the sunlight.
UPDATE: New visitors might need a primer for this story –
YAD06 – the Most Influential Tree in the World by Steve McIntyre
Sept. 30, 2009