MATH ERROR: Scientists Admit ‘Mistakes’ Led To Alarming Results In Major Global Warming Study

Michael Bastasch | Energy Editor
  • Scientists behind a headline-grabbing climate study admitted they “really muffed” their paper.
  • Their study claimed to find 60 percent more warming in the oceans, but that was based on math errors.
  • The errors were initially spotted by scientist Nic Lewis, who called them “serious (but surely inadvertent) errors.”

The scientists behind a headline-grabbing global warming study did something that seems all too rare these days — they admitted to making mistakes and thanked the researcher, a global warming skeptic, who pointed them out.

“When we were confronted with his insight it became immediately clear there was an issue there,” study co-author Ralph Keeling told The San Diego Union-Tribune on Tuesday.

Their study, published in October, used a new method of measuring ocean heat uptake and found the oceans had absorbed 60 more heat than previously thought. Many news outlets relayed the findings, but independent scientist Nic Lewis quickly found problems with the study.

Keeling, a scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, owned up to the mistake and thanked Lewis for finding it. Keeling and his co-authors submitted a correction to the journal Nature. (RELATED: Headline-Grabbing Global Warming Study Suffers From A Major Math Error)

“We’re grateful to have it be pointed out quickly so that we could correct it quickly,” Keeling said.

In a statement posted online Friday, Keeling said “the combined effect of these two corrections to have a small impact on our calculations of overall heat uptake.” However, Keeling said the errors mean there are “larger margins of error” than they initially thought.

People gather at the beach to cool off as a heat wave brings high temperatures and humidity to Oceanside, California

People gather at the beach to cool off as a heat wave brings high temperatures and humidity to Oceanside, California, August 14, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Blake.

So, while Keeling said they still found there’s more warming than previously thought, there’s too much uncertainty to support their paper’s central conclusion that oceans absorbed 60 percent more heat than current estimates show.

“Our error margins are too big now to really weigh in on the precise amount of warming that’s going on in the ocean,” Keeling told The Union Tribune. “We really muffed the error margins.”

Keeling and his co-authors used the study to debut a new way of estimating ocean heat uptake by measuring the volume of carbon dioxide and oxygen in the atmosphere. Scientists are still intrigued by this method, but all the kinks need to be worked out.

“So far as I can see, their method vastly underestimates the uncertainty,” Lewis told The Washington Post in an interview Tuesday, “as well as biasing up significantly, nearly 30 percent, the central estimate.”

Lewis pointed out the errors in Keeling’s study in a blog post published Nov. 6 on climate scientist Judith Curry’s website. Lewis wrote that “[j]ust a few hours of analysis and calculations … was sufficient to uncover apparently serious (but surely inadvertent) errors in the underlying calculations.”

Lewis is an ardent critic of climate scientists’ over-reliance on climate models, which he says predict too much warming. Lewis and Curry published a study earlier in 2018 that found climate models overestimated global warming by as much as 45 percent.

Lewis’s corrections were quickly confirmed by University of Colorado professor Roger Pielke Jr. Pielke called Keeling’s acceptance and willingness to correct the mistakes a “lesson in graciousness.”

“Unfortunately, we made mistakes here,” Keeling told WaPo. “I think the main lesson is that you work as fast as you can to fix mistakes when you find them.”

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Tags : energy judith curry nic lewis roger pielke jr scripps institution of oceanography



180 thoughts on “MATH ERROR: Scientists Admit ‘Mistakes’ Led To Alarming Results In Major Global Warming Study

    • “We’re grateful to have it pointed out so quickly”…..

      You mean, AFTER you’ve published in Nature, and AFTER most MSM has picked up your results and championed it as a reason for major social changes… that’s “early” ???

      This timeline is full of crazy people.

        • “Move along folks, nothing to see here folks, the MSM only makes rare,honest mistakes, not frequent, gross and obvious errors from rampant incompetence in some part guided by editors and owners with political motivations…” — Leslie Nielsen in front of a fireworks factory exploding.

        • Yep! So the fact is that not only is the competence of the authors in question so is that of every reviewer and the publication which published it. Apologies and mean culpas all around are in order.

      • All credit to the authors , its rare to admit mistakes.

        However I think we need to know how it passed peer review for a magazine as prestigious as Nature.

        Did this one slip through the net or is peer review not always as stringent as it could be.

        Does that stringency in peer review vary according to the author, subject or institution?

        • Everyone who goes through, and is recruited for peer review knows its value.

          1) In engineering/science fields where there is significant competition for funding, peers often sabotage peers as best they can by sitting on papers they know either contradict or would be published before their own, so good work is hampered sometimes.

          2) In engineering/science fields where no one cares about funding and investigation flows freely, peers are sometimes too involved in their own work to spend due-diligence on their peer’s papers.

          3) In engineering/science fields that have political winds in their favor, no one is willing to spend effort to upset the gravy train, so nonsense makes it through.

          Human nature will not be denied, we respond to incentives and that will not change.

          • I’m not really sure why you are dragging engineering into this. Engineers have real legal liability for such errors and tend to be much more conservative in this regard.

      • I thought that the idea is supposed to be: “I’ve been making a lot of errors, what am I doing wrong and how do I correct the problem so I can, more often, get things right the first time ?

    • Wonder if any scientists would volunteer to fly in an aircraft that was “peer-reviewed” (i.e., inspected) by someone who basically said “yeah, it has two wings and an engine, its an aircraft alright, clear for takeoff”?

      • Caligula Jones

        QC would seem to be the answer to shoddy peer review.

        But scientists would object because they are under so much pressure to publish.

        Of course engineers are under no pressure!

    • I recently (and inadvertently) added six zeroes to a bank deposit. My wife had reviewed and approved the deposit which is standard practice. We then notified all of our creditors of the news and they, in turn, notified all of the credit bureaus of the news.

      Unfortunately, some skeptical clerk at the bank checked the deposit amount against the check and said that there was a “large margin of error” in our calculations. We plan on having a correction sent to our creditors sometime in the future… when we can get around to it.

    • Want to bet if the IPCC take up the original paper that these authors will step in and say ‘no ‘ or will they take the money and run ?

      To be fair to them in this ara peer review is basically down to three areas.

      Is it alarmist in nature and so will get ‘headlines ‘
      are the authors ‘one of us ‘
      it is likely to be ‘useful to further the ‘science ‘

      tick those boxes and its done and dusted no need to check any of the facts , data or calculations, so you can see how this was missed.

  1. Yesterday I saw these quotes on another Blog:

    The Washington Post, for example, reported:
    “The higher-than-expected amount of heat in the oceans means more heat is being retained within Earth’s climate system each year, rather than escaping into space. In essence, more heat in the oceans signals that global warming is more advanced than scientists thought.”

    The New York Times at least hedged their reporting, claiming that the estimates,
    “if proven accurate, could be another indication that the global warming of the past few decades has exceeded conservative estimates and has been more closely in line with scientists’ worst-case scenarios.”

    Can we expect to see the Post and Times report this error?
    Probably but buried somewhere rather deep would be my guess

    • Steve -re your quote from the NYT:

      “if proven accurate, could be another indication that the global warming of the past few decades has exceeded conservative estimates and has been more closely in line with scientists’ worst-case scenarios.”

      Sorry – the warming is still the warming, and the non-warming is still the non-warming. They can make all the excuses they want that the warming is really in hiding, waiting to spring full force upon us unsuspecting Earthlings with catastrophic effects.

      But the warming is still the warming … and the non-warming is still the non-warming … just as sports teams fans can make all the excuses they want for why their team is losing games, but the score is still the score, and the W-L record is still the record.

      • Duane, You obviously don’t know anything about the scientific method and statistics. They are trying to prove ocean warming by a new proxy. Their error range prevents them from doing that. NoOne has established a valid significant trend in the warming of the oceans. Argo floats certainly don’t show any significant warming. Their attempt to find it using a proxy failed for now. Deal with it.

        • but they did ‘find it ‘ as they set out to do . The problem was someone did what the peer review did not and that was ‘check the maths ‘ a virtual unknown idea in climate ‘science’ and which is after all only used by those ‘wanting to find something wrong with it ‘

      • Warming? What does that mean in scientific terms? Does it mean delta C w/in 2M of ground of air or delta J of same or does it mean delta of total Joules from edge of atmosphere to center of planet?
        When you are allowed to mix your units anything is possible.

      • Nick Stokes November 14, 2018 at 8:20 am

        Thanks for the link. Nearly 1,000 words. Pretty good splash. I’m not changing my opinion that Climate Science operates with a strong bias. The press is worse, way worse. We are bombarded daily with ridiculous headlines. Yesterday, USA Today and others told us “The latest problem to be linked to global warming: male sperm counts.”

        In the original story, the shepherd boy finally does get eaten by a wolf. Maybe of acid rain, the ozone hole, obesity crisis, attention deficit disorder, asbestos, stray voltage, genetically modified food and all the things reported all most daily that “could” cause cancer, one will prove out to be true. Currently I don’t believe anything in the press unless I have good reason to. Nearly everything is run through a political filter. Probably has always been that way, but today it seems to be almost totally one sided.

        I’m sure the Post had a meeting on how to put Climate Science in the best light before the link you provided was put up.

        • steve case November 14, 2018 at 9:18 am :

          “Currently I don’t believe anything in the press unless I have good reason to. ”

          When I was in elementary school in the late 1940’s , I remember my father telling me “Don’t believe anything you read [in the newspaper], and only half of what you see.”

          I guess this is just some more wisdom from the past that has been lost.

        • That’s because they don’t run anything unless there is agenda behind it – in this case, damage control.

      • From their report –

        “The central conclusion of the study — that oceans are retaining ever more energy as more heat is being trapped within Earth’s climate system each year — is in line with other studies that have drawn similar conclusions. And it hasn’t changed much despite the errors.”

        So they significantly inflate the central estimate and wildly underestimate the uncertainty, but the conclusions don’t “change much.” And I’m sure the “other studies” are probably all modeling exercises or other such group-think and circular reasoning, as usual. Sounds more like “religion” than “science” every time they open their mouths.

        IOW, never mind the errors, and believe the propaganda, even though no actual ocean temperature measurements show any such “trapped heat” in the oceans.

        • You left out even if there is increased heat being taking up it is of little significance on human timescales as a FYI the deepest part of the oceans is still just above freezing. The thing not covered in any of those news articles is how all that extra energy is a problem, perhaps ask Nick Stokes to explain how all this extra heat comes back to get you 🙂

          The only real measurable effect we would notice is the increase in sea level from expansion which is on a snail pace ( a mm or so per year). Even those measurements are throwing problems at this story in that the new instrument in Jason 3 doesn’t see the same increases the old satellites saw. We only have the 2 years of data so far but there is considerable friction building up as the results keep getting wider. I get the impression a few in climate science are starting to pray they got unlucky and the new measurements just happen to start as the sea level did a plateau.

      • Thanks for the link Nick. Two paragraphs from the story seem to conflict with one another…do you agree?

        “The central conclusion of the study — that oceans are retaining ever more energy as more heat is being trapped within Earth’s climate system each year — is in line with other studies that have drawn similar conclusions. And it hasn’t changed much despite the errors. But Keeling said the authors’ miscalculations mean there is a much larger margin of error in the findings, which means researchers can weigh in with less certainty than they thought.”

        “Gavin Schmidt, head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, followed the growing debate over the study closely on Twitter and said that measurements about the uptake of heat in the oceans have been bedeviled with data problems for some time — and that debuting new research in this area is hard.”

        • “Our error margins are too big now to really weigh in on the precise amount of warming that’s going on in the ocean,” Direct quote from Keeling in this article.

          From the Post “But Keeling said the authors’ miscalculations mean there is a much larger margin of error in the findings, which means researchers can weigh in with less certainty than they thought.”

          Let us compare “too big now to really weigh in” vs. “researchers can weigh in with less certainty than they thought” Do those two statements sound equivalent to ANYONE?

          The Post did not retract anything. To sum up the Post article, it was wrong but it is still right because others have said similar conclusions, it’s not a big deal that it was wrong because it’s conclusions were right, and the error didn’t really change anything it just means they are less certain.

          • “Do those two statements sound equivalent to ANYONE?”

            Yes, apparently to 99% of the commenters, who believe the correction is “good” science, and a small statistical correction that essentially makes no real difference in the results except to deniers.

          • “To sum up the Post article, it was wrong but it is still right because others have said similar conclusions”

            Yes, in media, this is known as the “fake, but accurate” method.

      • Can we expect the BBC to report the ‘error’ as the first or second headline on their most popular radio and national news channel every 15/30 minutes for 24-48hours, and have 3 hours or more of the same doomsayers they interviewed on the back of it on for the same length of time admitting it was junk.

        And it is junk, beyond the ludicrous attempt to save their face.

    • Steve, ‘Can we expect to see the Post and Times report this error? Probably but buried somewhere rather deep would be my guess.’

      It’s the answer to the clue for 4 down in the crossword puzzle. ‘Scientist who fluffed his math on global warming scare story last week?’ /sarc off

    • Do they refund 60% of the research grant funding for making such a serious mathematical error?? If I made a 60% mathematical error as a Professional Engineer– and if equipment was designed around that error I’d be digging deeply in my pockets for 100% of the replacement equipment. jus sayin’

    • David new Guy-Johnson

      Agreed! It certainly should be the norm but sadly hasn’t been for some time now.

      Kudos to Ralph Keeling for his prompt acknowledgement of the errors found by Nic Lewis and his acceptance that they have a significant impact on the conclusions of the original study. On the other hand, the “peer reviewers” should hang their heads in collective shame since they obviously DIDN’T review anything regarding the paper’s technical content.

      Now let’s see Nature issue a retraction and ALL the MSM outlets trumpet the fact that their strident alarmism was misplaced and that things are NOT worse than we thought after all. In fact, there’s nothing to worry about at all, as usual.

      • “Now let’s see Nature issue a retraction and ALL the MSM outlets trumpet the fact that their strident alarmism was misplaced and that things are NOT worse than we thought after all. In fact, there’s nothing to worry about at all, as usual.”

        That’ll be the day! We might all die of shock!

      • Contrast this response to Nature’s non-response to critiques of its Antarctic warming cover story a few years back, and ditto to its author’s stonewalling.

      • you can ask if these issue had not be made public , but kept private if the authors would have taken the same approach or kept they mouths firmly shut knowing that the world would just move on .
        So was its ‘good practice’ or ‘fear ‘ that made them take these actions ?

      • Are you kidding, they(the press) will trumpet this as a success of peer review. Just in a way to make most think it is the normal peer review one would expect BEFORE publishing.

  2. Thanks, CTM!

    Wow, a climate scientist is admitting to a mistake to and through the mainstream media. Will wonders in this world never stop coming?

    Too bad the rest of the lot won’t admit to theirs!!


  3. Its refreshing that the climate advocates/scientists admit the error – the failure to admit error and/or the willingness to defend errors no matter how obvious taints the quality of climate science

    Wonder when climate advocates (not climate scientists) such as mann, gergis, pages2k, marcott will admit their errors

    • When hell freezes over.

      Well even then they’ll probably cook up some pseudo-scientific explanation of how CO2 caused THAT, too.

  4. Are the report’s peer reviewers for Nature as gracious as the original
    authors in acknowledging the math errors Nic discovered ?

    Did the reviewers simply check for grammatical slips and spelling goofs?
    A-form students could do that much.

    What’s Nature got to say for itself as a prestigious publication?

  5. So let me get this….. basic calculations are wrong, therefore they are still right, just slightly less right than before.

    In other words admission of miscalculating without actually changing the message produced from that miscalculation.

    Surely a complete withdrawal of the original findings and a correction in all the reporting media would have been appropriate

    • Climate scientists are educated fortune-tellers!
      Occasionally they’re right, by coincidence, but
      they are never held to account for being wrong.

    • Of course not, I present to you as evidence, the original hockey stick, yes no matter what data is input the results will always be a hockey stick, but that does not matter because all of these other studies have miraculously recreated the same hockey stick, no they didn’t select their assumptions such that it made their results match this randomly generated hockey stick graph, it’s just that Mann was such a coding genius and visionary that even when he got it wrong he got it right, so it won’t be retracted.
      Does this need the tag?

  6. We should respect the researchers’ gracious acknowledgement of error, which was done quickly and without attempt to obfuscate or explain away the mistake. It’s uncommon these days, and we should encourage them by not piling on, as it’s tempting to do.

    • I agree Dave.

      And, my general feeling is that Keeling is pretty serious scientist, so frankly, it’s not surprising to me that he would offer a quick correction.


      • A first-year engineering student would get weeded out and directed to study of the humanities after that just plain stupid mistake. Well, at least that’s the way it was 40 years ago.

        I suppose there’s a 50% chance they would have “mistakenly” calculated a LOWER least-squares slope than the correct answer, but somehow I think it was more of a 97% thing.

      • Agreed. Of course the spin is still nauseating. I saw it on an elevator “new feed” in my office building. It acknowledged an error and indicated that their “conclusions may be less certain.” LESS CERTAIN?! How about flat-out WRONG.

    • Absolutely – surely everybody wants this sort of behaviour to be the norm in all areas of science, and so should be congratulated and accepted as a genuine error. We all make those after all.

      Making people feel bad about this sort f thing will just make others more reluctant to admit and to release their data and calculations.

      • Well, if the “climate scientists” weren’t pushing policy based on their BS, nobody would care much about their errors or their willingness to admit them. Since they ARE advocating not just policy, but ECONOMICALLY RUINOUS policy, they deserve the derision they get for the pseudo-science they produce.

        Do you honestly believe they would publish their “findings” if they didn’t support “the CAUSE?” They would bury them as fast as they could.

  7. I would like to know more.
    Is Nic an individual working alone in his own time, or does he too have a team working with him? If Nic hadn’t found it would the “error” have gone undetected?

    • Nic Lewis is a retired London financial quant, translation math wiz. He has a special interest in climate sensitivity, and has published several formal papers on it together with Judith Curry. He began IIRC with a critique of the AR4 WH1 sensitivity chapter. I discuss it in the penultimate climate chapter in The Arts of Truth. I know from personal face to face interactions that MIT’s Prof. Lindzen agreed with Nic’s AR4 analysis, because he graciously critiqued the entire chapter (and parts of the rest of the book as well).

  8. Kind of like the creationists on their web sites pointing to triangulation of stars based on the baseline of the Earths orbit being a problem since the distance to stars that can be measured to that method are way older than 6000 light years and they discuss having to come up with a good argument against this……These heat in the oceans bozos can’t correlate their heat in the ocean to a slowing of the Earth’s rotation. It’s a very inconvenient fact.

    If the heat was in the ocean, that will expand the ocean and every so slightly, but predictably, slow the Earth’s rotation. This effect would have to be accounted for to adjust GPS accuracy for instance.

    I like new ideas exposed by any religious entity to be able to be fact checked against multiple lines of evidence before the faith based theory is expanded to support their religion.

    Heat must be going in the oceans seems to be the favorite mantra of late because the alarmist religion can still stick to their religion even if the air temperatures start dropping. So I can see why they want to latch on to this one.

    • John Mason:
      “Kind of like…” is correct, as there is a major difference between biblical creationists and CAGW believers.
      Creationists accept the scientific method and believe “inconvenient science” is simply incomplete – that further research is needed to discover how apparent contradictions between scientific understanding and biblical understanding can be reconciled.
      CAGW believers don’t accept the scientific method. They want to deny any data that contradicts their “consensus” and denigrate those who present it.


    • The article says the area affected is three times the size of Greater London. Hmm, I wonder how many Hiroshimas it would take to melt three Greater Londons worth of ice?

      • “The article says the area affected is three times the size of Greater London. Hmm, I wonder how many Hiroshimas it would take to melt three Greater Londons worth of ice?”

        60 heat, apparently…

  9. They must make massive mistakes. They banned proper peer review in climate science. Today peer review is only allowed by like-minded people. Because they already believe the study makes sense, they make no real attempt to find flaws in it. Nor can they. They can’t even allow themselves to think critically. Thinking critically is now known as being ‘contrarian‘. It’s on the same moral plane as ‘shill‘ and ‘denier‘.

  10. You’ve got to wonder if it weren’t for climate heretics such as Nic Lewis et al., would the mistake ever been found. Is the cult of climate even reading the papers or are they simply citing the results?

    • to be fair they do check papers for their ‘adherence to the cause ‘
      quality control is known by the amount of headlines it gets and the highest standard is seen when it gets into IPCC ‘comedy script ‘

  11. The climate propaganda has been widely broadcast by the media. Expect the reported correction to be minimal.

  12. Underestimating uncertainty is, unfortunately, not rare. If Climate Science were required to establish significance to 5 sigmas, I think most papers would have to be retracted. I don’t know what significance level the authors used in this paper, but I doubt they used 5 sigmas.

    • In this paper they used one sigma. Even with their underestimated uncertainty and overestimated trend the result would have been 23±24 x 10^21 J at two sigmas. Not a particularly impressive result.

  13. Here’s an idea. Climate researchers should engage Nic Lewis to review their work before publishing. And pay him for the effort. I’m sure there’s some room in the grant proposal budget for it. It would save so much embarrassment at so little cost.

    Can’t call it peer review, however. Nic is peerless in his work.

      • So, you’re saying the spelling and grammar are correct but the science .. that will wait.
        Definitely not what “peer reviewed” is portrayed as.

        • Neo,
          On the contrary! The point of so-called peer reviewed research is to expose it to the broader community of scientists, specialist and generalist alike, to see if there are issues. The problem is that because research has gone through pre-publication pal review, it is all too often accepted as being the last word on the subject and not subject to the detailed peer examination that should be done.

          This should be viewed by climatologists (and others) as a proverbial warning shot across the bow to tighten things up.

          • Like this has been the first time? There has been a shots all around them and they still don’t stop. Some are either honest, or at least smart enough to realize that even a non-climate scientist understands that allowing a math error to stand makes you look like you don’t care about the truth and therefore will issue a mea-culpa thus allowing the press to say see “look how honest these climate scientists are” while down playing any mistakes.

      • Yes, and math. Don’t forget math.

        Math that the experts consistently get wrong because, well, they’re scientists, not mathematicians, or statisticians. Have to concentrate on the real, actual important stuff, like science.

        And only scientists can correct science. Except for the math parts, which, after all, aren’t very important in science.

        Except for the math parts of science….

      • UNLESS the paper is critical of the Eco-Nazi “cause.” THEN they manage to “hack away” with a degree of effort far in excess of all the AGW propaganda reviews they have ever done, combined.

      • Sorry Latitude but, unless you were being sarcastic, I cannot agree with you. In my discipline peer reviewers were always chosen and only chosen because they possessed sufficient knowledge to “hack the science”.

    • Mistakes, even obvious ones, are hard to see deep inside the group-think tank. Warmatologist peers live in the tank. Whereas, to a clear eyed true skeptic like Lewis, mistakes can be quickly seen.

  14. The San Diego Union Tribune has run the story as well.

    “However, the conclusion came under scrutiny after mathematician Nic Lewis, a critic of the scientific consensus around human-induced warming, posted a critique of the paper on the blog of Judith Curry, another well-known critic.

    The findings of the … paper were peer reviewed and published in the world’s premier scientific journal and were given wide coverage in the English-speaking media,” Lewis wrote. “Despite this, a quick review of the first page of the paper was sufficient to raise doubts as to the accuracy of its results.”

    • … a quick review of the first page of the paper was sufficient to raise doubts as to the accuracy of its results.

      60% is a ridiculous number. It would require more energy than is available.

      When you think you’ve found something really spectacular, the thing to do is try to figure out what you’ve done wrong. That approach saves embarrassment.

      • Agreed. What you have to bear in mind, however, that when they find something that is “spectacular” AND in line with their preconceived conclusions, they will rush to publish and publicize it as fast as possible, before anyone ELSE figures out what they’ve done wrong, relying on the old principle of “a lie makes its way around the world before the truth gets its pants on.”

        • If you don’t publish, you won’t have a career in academia. ‘Interesting’ results get published. There’s no penalty for being wrong. What do think will be the result of that?

          It is becoming widely acknowledged that science has big problems. link All that might be fine. It’s the job of science to find new stuff. You don’t do that without being wrong most of the time. The unforgivable thing is the sanctimonious twerps who insist on the authority of science.

  15. Keeling and his co-authors were let down by their peer reviewers.

    The paper supported a certain narrative, so it went through. If their paper had come to a conclusion that contradicted the prevailing narrative, you can bet it would have been found prior to publication.

    I suppose the lesson is to send your paper to someone on the “other side” and not just to “friendlies.”

    • Steve O

      Perhaps the journal Nature might take that advice, they select the reviewers don’t they, and they now have eggy faces.

  16. So much for the vaunted ‘peer review’.

    Isn’t that all supposed to have happened before the NYT gets its hands on your work?

  17. “Our error margins are too big now to really weigh in on the precise amount of warming that’s going on in the ocean,” Keeling told The Union Tribune.”
    The “precise amount”? Really? As if. They have no clue what’s going on with the oceans, and all they will admit is that they don’t know the “precise amount”. Oh, the hubris of these “scientists”.
    And, they still found there’s “more warming than previously thought”. Of course. Still sticking 100% to the Warmist pseudoscience.
    They are merely acting “grateful” they got caught with their hand in the cookie jar. It’s merely one more instance of CYA. Don’t fall for the act. They are not being sincere. At all.

    • “scientists”

      They actually are bona fide scientists. It’s a bad mistake to think that there are real scientists somewhere who are paragons and completely lack human foibles.

  18. ” We expect the combined effect of these two corrections to have a small impact on our calculations of overall heat uptake, but with larger margins of error”, said Keeling. ( source CNN) that’s what they really meant, didn’t change hardly anything at all. No admission that they were wrong.
    Whew! There, that fixed that problem……
    See they were right all along. Just a couple of minor errors, the ocean up take on heat is still at the high end.
    Ku zu dee! ( load of crap ) Surely, the thermal expansion of the oceans is hiding around here somewhere… That’s right!! We forgot!! The extra water is deforming the ocean floor… more ku zu dee
    Since it seems that the Arctic is NOT getting on board, ships keep getting grounded, ( ALL a board for the Grand Polar Tour ) with the Global warming agenda, lets shift our focus somewhere else…. A few winters of extreme cold will end this nonsense, … maybe, kind of like the pause, as if it never happened, or the mythical warming hot spot …. but then what am I going to do without a constant source of amusement? I saw a commercial on glittering unicorn poop, naturally I thought of AGW… really, a real commercial.

    • AGREE
      Scripps still has a long way to go to get their reputation back. I am old enough to remember it well, was taught by one of their graduates. I was told at least one of their recent graduates has some sense.
      “We expect the combined effect of these two corrections to have a small impact on our calculations of overall heat uptake, but with larger margins of error. We are redoing the calculations and preparing author corrections for submission to Nature.” We will see.

  19. In reading many of the WaPo reader’s comments, they don’t seem to understand the role of the reviewers and how they screwed-up bigtime. They simply praise the authors for admitting an error.

  20. The main lesson here is that having people looking at work with a sceptical eye is absolutely critical to sound science, and the climate scientist lead attack on sceptics is ant-science… many times do “contrarians” have to expose errors and/or dishonest methods before they are treated as actual scientists and not pariahs…..there is no point in pretending this will Make Nic less welcome in climate science circles and within the media, and not more welcome.

    • Wow i should proof read before hitting send…. grade that a D-

      “no point in pretending this will NOT make Nic….”

      • Brandon C/Brandon Caswell

        Only 4 minutes to recognise your errors and post corrections.

        You should apply for a job at Nature.

        You could cite these posts on your CV. 🙂

  21. How can a researcher come up with a dramatic unexpected result and not double check the numbers? If it’s unexpected wouldn’t a reviewer have scrutinized the numbers? It wouldn’t surprise me if Nature doesn’t comment

    • This was my first thought. And its a reason, despite their prompt and proper acknowledgement that I question their bona fides. When I hear dramatic results coming out of research, my first question is “Is that real? Or did something go wrong in the research or the analysis?” Anyone with experience in science has seen and/or personally experienced this – astounding results that either can’t be replicated or turn out to be an error in analysis.

    • That is the Sagan premise of science, “extraordinary claims need extraordinary evidence” but climate science has it’s own version “extraordinary claims it’s worse than we thought needs no evidence”.

  22. To me, the significance of this is that many people were telling Nic Lewis that if he wanted to get results he had to write a letter to the editors or submit a formal complaint.

    Instead, publishing his results on Dr. Judith Curry’s excellent blog was enough to bring it to the attention of the authors and impel them to deal with it. Well done to both of them.

    I’ve said before that I write for the blogs because the scientific discussions are moving to the blogs, and because people of both sides read them. This is excellent confirmation of that claim.

    Best to all,


    • Well, it is Current Year. All the kids are using social media, so why can’t scientists?

      Oh yeah…that’s right: scientists are actually a pretty conservative bunch who won’t mess with a paradigm if it requires working a bit harder. Or losing funding that maintains the paradigm.

    • Prior to posting, Lewis twice contacted the lead authkor and asked for a response before he went public. He received none.

      • Roger

        I noted that as well. But Willis is right, there are many people reading these blogs and they are gradually becoming a more mainstream source of information than conventional sources.

        I’m heartened to see criticism of sceptical essays run on WUWT, in whole or in part, by the readers of this blog. No one is getting paid and there are obviously some very capable people on here.

        Willis, Dave Middleton, Tim Ball etc. all risk a beasting if they get something wrong which is more than can be said of peer review.

        As unorthodox as it may be, perhaps scientists might consider testing their studies in the public arena before ‘publication’ in the future.

    • I also had in issue with several articles written on different organizations where Nic Lewis was identified as a climate contrarian and/or a climate skeptic. Even in the article Nick Stokes linked lets quote it

      Lewis has argued in past studies and commentaries that climate scientists are predicting too much warming because of their reliance on computer simulations, and that current data from the planet itself suggests global warming will be less severe than feared.

      He may also be a transgender, red-neck, whisky swilling, smoking atheist but that has absolutely nothing to with the error, the error exists regardless of his background.

      It is Climate Sciences and the left loonies backhanded way of trying to place doubt around any finding they don’t approve.

  23. ‘Mistakes’ Led To Alarming Results In Major Global Warming Study’

    But it’s still really, really bad.
    And it’s worse that we thought.

  24. I agree with the tone of the post, being gracious to Keeling et al admitting to their mistakes is a toddler step in the direction back to real science.

    Now if other scientists would only man(-ning) up to the fair critique of their papers, it would be a full step back from the brink.

  25. Still waiting for the BBC and the lefty media in the UK, to formally advise the public of these errors and that the ocean is not over-heating as claimed – and with the same vehemence, frequency, and prominence as was provided for the reporting of these scientists’ “proofs” of massive over-estimates of this ocean heating.

    I won’t hold my breath, waiting and neither will I sit up all night with my eye’s glued to the TV.

  26. Can you imagine if these bozos had a real job working for a company that had a bottom line they would be out the door. Yeah my peer reviewer buddy says that I didn’t do it. Bless him. Oh and can I borrow some of that hidden heat so I can heat my house its going to be a very cold winter.

  27. Peer review in climate science now… “I like the study’s conclusion. Yes, CO2 is still evil. Looks good to me.”

  28. Seems like a half-hearted apology. Were their error margins so badly calculated that the paper shouldn’t have been published is the real question they should be addressing. It sounds like it to me.

    I’m not holding my breath waiting for the BBC to acknowledge anything.

    • Years ago I advocated strongly for the use of “contrarian” by journalists who were looking for a neutral term. I’m pleased to have maybe made some impact.

  29. Sadly, I think the root cause of this is Confirmation Bias. When you get good results that prove what you believe, you aren’t too likely to scrutinize the work too hard. Apparently this also applies for the peer reviewers. Realistically, scientific papers need to have review from experts on both sides of the spectrum.

    • Methinks Nic is a lukewarmer, not a denialist, but a true skeptic. Many ‘skeptics’ are not skeptic at all.

      Now what is the new Resplandy result – it is not +60% but somethng like +10% +/_ 60%. Or what?

  30. The paper in its corrected form is now quite unspectacular in its results. Such an unspectacular result which only supports similar results on OHC might have gotten published in a 3rd tier journal.

    My other comment that Dr Ralph Keeling took the blame for this to likely shield the real culprit in this “mistake”, the first author, a former Post-Doc in his lab. The first author, Ms. Laure Resplandy now an Asst Prof at Princeton U, was also the corresponding author and is the person who generally writes the paper and her position as corresponding author would suggest it was she who should have responded to the media and to Nic Lewis.

    The second author listed was Ralph Keeling, son of Charles Keeling who started the CO2 monitoring at MLO, who is 59 and is in a secure position at Scripps. The senior authors are W. Koeve & A. Oschlies at GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Kiel, Germany.

    The “contributions” section of the original paper reads (exactly quote):


    L.R. directed the analysis of the datasets and models used here and shared responsibility for writing the manuscript; R.F.K. shared responsibility for writing the manuscript; R.W. performed simulations of anthropogenic aerosols; L.B., J.P.D., M.C.L., W.K. and A.O. provided model results. All authors contributed to the final version of the manuscript.”

    That contributions statement clearly tells everyone it was Dr Resplandy who directed the analysis.
    Dr Resplandy’s CV at Princeton U lists her postings:
    2017-present: Assistant Professor at Princeton University.
    2014-2016: Post-doc at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD (USA). Ralph Keeling’s group.
    2012-2013: Post-doc at LSCE – CEA (France). Laurent Bopp’s group.
    2010-2011: Post-doc at National Oceanographic Center (UK). Adrian Martin’s group.
    2006-2010: PhD in Oceanography at LOCEAN (France). Advisor: Marina Lévy.
    2005-2006: Junior geoscientist at Schlumberger. Geochemical modeling of carbon storage.

    What is clear is Dr Keeling fell on the sword for this “error” to attempt to shield his former early-career Post-Doc from a career killing error. Dr Resplandy has yet to earn tenure at Princeton, and this could be a career ending error for her.

    • As I read up on Dr Resplandy’s other major 1st Author paper from Dr Keeling’s group while she was post-doc at Scripps, it too had a major correction to a mathematical error of substance that affected critical results.

      That original paper is:
      “Constraints on oceanic meridional heat transport from combined measurements of oxygen and carbon”
      Resplandy, L., Keeling, R.F., Stephens, B.B. et al. Clim Dyn (2016) 47: 3335.

      And the correction to that paper is:
      “Erratum to: Constraints on oceanic meridional heat transport from combined measurements of oxygen and carbon”
      Resplandy, L., Keeling, R.F., Stephens, B.B. et al. Clim Dyn (2017) 49: 4317.

      The erratum reads:

      1. The definition of pre-industrial oceanic potential oxygen (OPOpi) given in Eq. (7) reads:
      OPOpi= O2∗+1.1×Cpi∗

      but should appear as:
      OPOpi= O2∗+1.1×Cpi∗−(1/XN2)×N2

      where O2∗ and Cpi∗ are the quasi-conservative ocean tracer concentrations tracking air–sea exchanges of O2 and pre-industrial CO2, N2 is the dissolved N2 ocean concentration and XN2 is the atmospheric mole fraction of N2 (XN2
      = 0.7808).

      This definition of OPOpi and the OPOpi data shown on Fig. 1 therefore include the changes in OPO due to air–sea fluxes of O2 and pre-industrial CO2 but also due to the thermally driven air–sea fluxes of N2, which are important for understanding changes in pre-industrial atmospheric potential oxygen (APOpi). Including the N2 contribution makes OPOpi a mirror tracer of APOpi across the air–sea interface, i.e. with equivalent air–sea fluxes. The data based OPOpi to potential temperature ratio derived from Fig. 1 includes the N2 contribution and is equal to −3.9 nmol/J. Note that without the N2 contribution, this ratio would equal −4.4 nmol/J.

      (note: my bold to emphasize the magnitude of the “error” by Dr Resplandy.)

      In other words, she neglected to remove the contribution of nitrogen to oceanic potential oxygen (OPOpi), the key parameter they were studying. This caused about a 11% error in the estimate of OPOpi (-3.9 nmol/J rather than the actual -4.4 nmol/J).

      Her Figure 1 in the original paper is wrong by ~11% in its OPOpi graph.

      With a slope of -4.4 nmol/J, that clearly impacts the upper left part of the data set set shown. If line that is shifted upwards to match a -4.4 nmol/J slope, then that clearly indicates there is less Oxygen potential at the lower temps than they showed.
      Furthermore their figure legend for Fig 1 they state, “The curvature in the slope of the data arises from non-linearities in O2 and CO2 solubilities, which are more sensitive to temperature change at lower temperature.”

      Taken together it clearly indicates not only are their results sensitive to the lower ocean temps but that their error of using -3.9 rather than -4.4 is greatly amplified in the colder oceans where most of the oxygen from a warmer ocean are released.

      It would seem Dr Resplandy is making a habit of major mathematical errors in her papers that steers them towards larger impacts on oxygen potential release and thus higher OHC impacts.

      • Okay my correction now: At a slope of -4.4 nmol/J it means there is more (not less) Ocean Potential Oxygen at the lower ocean potential temperature, theta, than they showed. Meaning the oxygen observed comes from smaller temperature changes.

      • “It would seem Dr Resplandy is making a habit of major mathematical errors in her papers that steers them towards larger impacts”

        Yes, but how else is she going to make the “Big Leagues” if she doesn’t play by the rules that the Manns, etc. did to get there?

    • They are attempting to correct the paper with Nature. The authors are not asking for retraction. Nature editors will send the received correction out to reviewers who will:
      (1) either recommend accpetance of the correction, or
      (2) accpetance of correction with further edits and clarifications, or
      (3) outright retraction of the original manuscript if the original errors and the attempt at corrections are deemed such a magnitude to make the whole study is now questionable.

      The editors will then have to decide what to do based on the reviewers’ recommendations on the correction.

  31. Can someone explain to me why the default assumption is that observed changes in atmospheric potential oxygen were measured properly?

  32. “I think the main lesson is that you work as fast as you can to fix mistakes when you find them.”

    Correction “I think the main lesson is that you work as fast as you can to fix mistakes when they are pointed out to you.”

    But the real lesson – if they can learn it – is not to jump to a conclusion that things are worse than they seem. That you shouldn’t rush to a conclusion that is in line with your beliefs and ideology rather than the those that support the evidence, facts and truth.

  33. There was no Superbowl Game to distract them so they could do the corrections ( a la Steve McIntyre)

  34. Question – Are peer reviewers ever named? If not, why not? Seems to me if there names were published they would be more thorough in their review.

    • It would also be tougher to get competent reviewers, knowing their names would be dragged through the mud from every person who didn’t like their review.

  35. This was no mistake.
    They hate Nic more than ever . . .
    Expect a rise in blog attacks on anything new from Lewis & Curry.

    • I loved Nic Lewis backhander at the end .. very funny

      Unfortunately their work involves many assumptions where there scope for subjective choices by the authors, so it is difficult to validate those assumptions. I would hope that Nature will have any changes made by the authors to their assumptions examined carefully by peer reviewers who are experts in the same field as Resplandy and Keeling, as well as by statistically expert peer reviewers. However, the failure of the original peer review and editorial process to pick up the fairly obvious statistical problems in the original paper do not engender confidence in Nature’s approach.

      • Not so much a backhander as a gentle kiss on their smug intellectually bankrupt cheek from a Glaswegian cap which has razorblades sown into the peak 🙂

  36. “Their study, published in October, used a new method of measuring ocean heat uptake and found the oceans had absorbed 60 more heat than previously thought.”

    OMG! 60 more heat!


    Is that, like, a lot?

    • Isn’t the plural of one heat “two heats”? So shouldn’t this be 50 heats?

      But that certainly is much less than a gazillion heats…so we’re safe.

  37. …Much of the data on ocean temperatures currently relies on the Argo array, robotic devices that float at different depths. The program, which started in 2000, has gaps in coverage…By comparison, Keeling and Laure Resplandy, a researcher at Princeton University’s Environmental Institute who co-authored the report, calculated heat based on the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide rising off the ocean, filling round glass flasks with air collected at research stations around the globe.
    San Diego Union-Tribune Nov.15.
    Could Readers who know of such things help this non scientist out
    Tom Karl, former NOAA director did a study that purported to dismiss the pause and show ocean temperature data, using Argo buoys, needing to be adjusted upward as the current method of adjustment was too low…the end product being that the oceans were warming…even ‘worser’ than we thought.
    The exceptional Jo Nova has this well covered in 2 articles…
    1. Exotic adventures in global data to unfind “the Pause”, by Karl in 2015…June 5. 2015.
    2. NOAA whistleblower tells how they used bad data to rub out “pause” for Paris. (Feb 6. 2017.)
    From the first article..Ross McKitrick points out that to get the new NOAA sea surface data they added 0.12 °C to the buoy readings, to make them more like the ship data. That magic number came from Kennedy et al. (2011) where the uncertainty was reported as (wait for it) 0.12 ± 1.7°C. (Which is like saying there is definitely one apple here, give or take 17 apples. So this is what 95% certainty looks like?). ..Worse, that uber-extremely-uncertain-number was supposed to be used to adjust the ship data down so it was closer to the buoys. The authors felt the buoys were more accurate than bucket-from-ships. Even Karl et al paradoxically agree (have cake, eat cake), saying that because the buoy data is better, it should be weighted higher. In this fashion, the best data can get adjusted the most, to make it more like the bad data, then it can count for more….
    Now Keeling and co have decided to use this new fangled method of…calculated heat based on the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide rising off the ocean, filling round glass flasks with air collected at research stations around the globe….
    And surprise of all surprises they came up with the Oceans contain immense more heat than expected and it be ‘worser’ than we could possibly think!
    Back to those who know such things to help out this non scientist.
    Does the Karl study and The Keeling data mean that the current Argo calculations are doing a good job and are showing nothing to go all Drama Queen about?…and that be unnacceptable to the narrative.
    Is this what it is all about..have Keeling and Karl..been caught with both hands flailing about in a desperate search in the Data Cookie Jar?

  38. “Unfortunately, we made mistakes here,” Keeling told WaPo. “I think the main lesson is that you work as fast as you can to fix mistakes when you find them.”

    The main lesson is gets skeptics involved in peer-review, with provided data and listen to them.
    The second lesson is change ‘fix mistakes when you find them.” to “fix mistakes when skeptics find them for you.”
    The third lesson is “When the conclusion of the article is completely untenable after the correction ask for a retraction. ”

    My 2.3 cents.

    • More important lesson: do not make mistakes. To prevent: replicate the study. If you can’t replicate all of it (data collection too) then, at least replicate the calculations from the data. Publish after the replication, not before.

  39. What I note here is that Laure, et. al. have owned up to their mistakes in calculating the error bars. Okay, good start – but they continue by asserting that the central estimate is unchanged by the corrections. Completely ignoring the 30% inflation in that conclusion, also identified by Nic Lewis.

    Sorry, but this just changes my attribution for their motivations from “stupidity” to “malice.” They are covering for their basic propaganda by “acknowledging” an error that makes no difference to their actual assertion – that the “missing heat” is hiding in the oceans.

  40. What should draw very grave attention from all reasonable decent and honorable people is the complete and collective silence from the MSM on this now exposed error and every other badly researched and joke peer reviewed piece of pro AGM literature found to be flawed in its methodology and or conclusions. That single fact is telling. This invites an observation that all the MSM want to broadcast is pro AGM news on this subject. But why? Where are the investigative reporters hungry for a scandal to expose? Silence. What this leads me to wonder is just who is telling the MSM what to report and what not to report because they act collectively. Who is pulling their strings? Someone or something very powerful indeed!
    Where is the public denouncement of clearly shoddy (if there was any) peer reviewing? Silence. Where are the headlines rejoicing that nothing is as bad as we were led to believe? Silence. The conclusions of the original flawed work are now a new part of the warming industry propaganda arsenal because which of the MSM published an update to inform their readers/viewers/listeners that the papers findings were not correct? Silence.
    We are totally dependent on the personal dilligence of exceptional unpaid individuals to find errors and report them, errors that this trillion and more a year dollar mafia like industry demonstrably fails to find and why? BECAUSE this is all about power and money and nothing at all to do with finding truth. They tell a story, any story and if by good fortune some data can be bent in the right direction all well and good and their lackeys in the MSM will dutifully gush all over it and tell us the most juicy and doom laden bits. When a brave honest mind exposes the claims as false or innacurate look how they are treated….. by other scientists and then publicaly hung out to dry. Thank you Dr Crockford and Dr. Ridd FOR BEING SCIENTISTS! The best wecan hope for is that person will be personally vilified…..notice how rarely do we hear that person’s work challenged.
    The global number of people willing to act if not criminally then very dishonestly to obtain or keep a place at the public funded feeding trof is growing and growing and I would not put it past some of their foot soldiers to shoot you down in the street if you are seen as a threat to either their blind religion or their worthless invented livelihood. If a person produced today irrefutable proof that there was no problem at all from AGM and that we can relax, how long exactly do you think they would live?
    How long before their personal lives would be cynically attacked and destroyed as every muscle this multiheaded hydra is flexed to deal with this serious threat to it’s existance?
    I am truly ashamed of the depths to which people will sink who belong to the collective family of scientists to which I belong, people who have willingly sold their souls to be participants in the AGM gravytrain. You have done science, the critical foundation of our 21st century existance irreparable damage. I call you out as morally and intellectually bankrup as well as being cowards both individually and collectively. Indeed, I can with clarity of mind say that I view prostitution as an eminently more respectable profession than yours. A pox on you all.

    The silence is deafening

  41. I would perhaps be interested in seeing the precise nature of the error but probably not. I would be intensely interested in seeing how recent testing of the composition of ocean out gassing compares to the same tests conducted in previous times. Oh wait……this is a new method, right? Which means there is no historical references with respect to this new method, regardless of any error or miscalculation involved.

    Which basically makes the entire study a monumental waste of time which should never have been given any consideration as a basis for confirming or denying the existence of any trend extending into the past.

  42. Not the case here (I believe, it is too big of a mistake!) but reminds me of my time in academia. Some researchers had a trick, not to be abused though, to increase number of publications in high impact journals… or sometimes just increase number of publications: publish your paper with a tiny mistake (such a incorrect legend on a picture, etc) so you can do a “corrigendum” later on… 2 papers in a high impact journal for the price of one, as they are automatically counted as such in so many of the “statistics” used to weight the impact of an academic. Unless there is an A**hole on the committee that has unfortunately nothing else to do than check the details of publication record (not enough committees to attend, hence bored), easy way to ace it.

  43. Several days later Dr Resplandy’s page at Princeton under ‘related press coverage’ still contains links to all the alarming coverage, but no link to any coverage of the mistakes, such as the WP article. As she seems to have been behind much of that coverage her silence now seems strange.

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