The CRU E-mails: What is Really There?

No climate-related stories over the past few years have attracted the level of mainstream coverage as those involving personal e-mails of prominent climate scientists that were hacked from a mail server at the Climatic Research Unit (CRU), University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom (see Yale Forum article).

These e-mails provide plenty to criticize, but the most widely-publicized quotes often are taken out of context to falsely imply a conspiracy of sorts to hide declining temperatures and a lack of recent warming. A close reading of the e-mails in question reveals a more nuanced picture, with scientists struggling with how to explain uncertainties in complex systems in a world of 60-second sound-bytes and the certainty of blistering condemnations by those ideologically opposed to accepting scientific evidence of anthropogenic warming.

Some of the attitudes shown toward skeptics raise very troubling questions, and there is a clear tendency toward circling the proverbial wagons when anyone in the group is criticized. But nothing in the e-mails significantly calls into question the fundamentals underlying scientific understanding of the climate system. Still to be determined is whether the public at large, and the elected officials representing them, will come to that same conclusion on their own.

The scandal broke after 12 years of e-mails were released on climate skeptic blogs after what may have either been hacking by parties unknown or a leak from someone at East Anglia. Authorities are looking into those issues. Only a small portion of CRU Director Phil Jones’ e-mails were released, and those that appear to have been selected for being most likely to cause embarrassment. Given the sheer volume of e-mails over a 12-year period that have now undergone extensive scrutiny (including a useful keyword search tool), it’s almost surprising that there is so little actually there. That said, five major issues that have been seized upon in the e-mails bear review:

  • Scientist Kevin Trenberth’s remarks on scientists’ inability to account for lack of warming;
  • Phil Jones’ comment on using a “trick” to “hide the decline”;
  • Encouraging editors of Climate Research to resign after the publication of Soon and Baliunas (2003);
  • Discussions among scientists surrounding efforts to avoid citing two skeptical papers (Kalnay and Cai (2003) and McKitrick and Michaels (2004)) in the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report; and
  • Perhaps most damning, comments by Jones encouraging others to delete e-mails to avoid releasing them to freedom of information requests from climate skeptics.

Trenberth: ‘We can’t account for the lack of warming’

Kevin Trenberth is a well-respected and prominent climate scientist who heads the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, in Boulder, Co. In an e-mail to Jones and others, he remarked:

Hi all
Well I have my own article on where the heck is global warming …

Trenberth, K. E., 2009: An imperative for climate change planning: tracking Earth’s global energy. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 1, 19-27.
The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t [Emphasis added]. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observing system is inadequate. That said there is a LOT of nonsense about the PDO. People like CPC are tracking PDO on a monthly basis but it is highly correlated with ENSO. Most of what they are seeing is the change in ENSO not real PDO. It surely isn’t decadal. The PDO is already reversing with the switch to El Niño. The PDO index became positive in September for first time since Sept 2007.

Publishing an article on something is hardly a good way to hide it, so it is somewhat enigmatic to see this particular quote lambasted so often. Indeed, his paper discusses in detail the limitations of scientists’ ability to account for heat flows in the climate system. He generally agrees with the attribution of unusually cool 2008 temperature to La Niña (though it’s worth noting that 2008 was only cool relative to the rest of the decade):

The global mean temperature in 2008 was the lowest since about 2000 … Given that there is continual heating of the planet, referred to as radiative forcing, by accelerating increases of carbon dioxide and other greenhouses due to human activities, why isn’t the temperature continuing to go up? The stock answer is that natural variability plays a key role and there was a major La Niña event early in 2008 that led to the month of January having the lowest anomaly in global temperature since 2000. While this is true, it is an incomplete explanation.

He goes on to note that:

In particular, what are the physical processes? From an energy standpoint, there should be an explanation that accounts for where the radiative forcing has gone. Was it compensated for temporarily by changes in clouds or aerosols, or other changes in atmospheric circulation that allowed more radiation to escape to space? Was it because a lot of heat went into melting Arctic sea ice or parts of Greenland and Antarctica, and other glaciers? Was it because the heat was buried in the ocean and sequestered, perhaps well below the surface? Was it because the La Niña led to a change in tropical ocean currents and rearranged the configuration of ocean heat? Perhaps all of these things are going on?

But surely we have an adequate system to track whether this is the case or not, don’t we? Well, it seems that the answer is no, we do not. But we should! Given that global warming is unequivocally happening … then adapting to the climate change is an imperative. To plan for and cope with effects of climate change requires information on what is happening and why, whether observed changes are likely to continue or are a transient, how they affect regional climates and the possible impacts.

It is not a sufficient explanation to say that a cool year is due to natural variability … There must be a physical explanation, whether natural or anthropogenic. [Emphasis added]

It is quite clear from this context that Trenberth is not questioning the link between anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions and warming, or even suggesting that recent temperatures are unusual in the context of short-term natural variability. Rather, he is bemoaning scientist’s inability to effectively model and monitor the energy flows associated with this short-term variability. Indeed, it should come as no great surprise to students of climate science that our understanding of short-term climate variability is quite limited, and it is telling that this brouhaha accompanied Trenberth’s single cherry-picked sentence rather than his more nuanced publication on the subject.

‘Mike’s Nature trick … to hide the decline’

This particular phrase has probably gotten more attention than any other contained in the hacked e-mails. Stripped of its context, it seems to confirm what skeptics have always feared: that scientists are cooking the proverbial temperature books to artificially inflate warming and hide any evidence of declining global temperatures. The full e-mail that contains the phrase is:

Dear Ray, Mike and Malcolm,
Once Tim’s got a diagram here we’ll send that either later today or first thing tomorrow.
I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd [sic] from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline. Mike’s series got the annual land and marine values while the other two got April-Sept for NH land N of 20N. The latter two are real for 1999, while the estimate for 1999 for NH combined is +0.44C wrt 61-90. The Global estimate for 1999 with data through Oct is +0.35C cf. 0.57 for 1998. Thanks for the comments, Ray.

Something immediately stands out that should put to rest fears that climatologists are conspiring to hide recent cooling: namely the reference to the real temps line — “I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd [sic] from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline” [emphasis added].

Indeed, using “real temps” to hide a decline in recent temperature makes no sense at all.

To understand the context of this quote, realize that the scientists here aren’t talking about recent global temperatures from thermometers at all. Rather, the e-mail is discussing the creation of a diagram showing a proxy reconstruction of northern hemispheric temperatures over the past 1,000 years based on tree rings. Jones is essentially replacing the data from tree rings post-1960 with real global temperature data from thermometers worldwide; temperature data, it is worth noting, that is independently validated by satellite measurements.

Still, it might seem odd to arbitrarily discard declining proxy data in favor of thermometer data known to be accurate for the recent past. It is quite reasonable to ask how, if tree ring proxies are not reliable for the past 40 years, can they possibly be used to reconstruct temperature over the past 1,000 years?

It is true that there is considerable uncertainty associated with tree ring proxies, and scientists can reliably reconstruct global temperature records for the past 600 years using non-tree ring proxy data. However, tree ring width is strongly correlated with temperature over the past 200 years or so for which there are instrumental records, and there is reason to believe that the decrease in tree ring width post-1960 is caused by something other than declining temperatures (since the temperatures where these trees are located are, by and large, not declining).

Indeed, this phenomenon is well known as the “divergence problem” (pdf) in the dendroclimatology literature. Hundreds of peer-reviewed papers have been written on the subject. Prime suspects for the cause of divergence include reduced insolation (global dimming) as the result of aerosols; temperature-induced drought stress; or other anthropogenic factors that would cause the historical relationship between tree ring width and temperature to break down in recent years in the locations where they are being measured.

So by “hide the decline,” Jones was referring to obscuring the divergence problem in the resulting chart by replacing tree ring proxy data with global temperature data. This may be somewhat dubious in that it gives the impression that proxy reconstructions match the observed temperature record better than they otherwise would. However, it is likely that Jones sincerely concludes that the divergence problem is indeed an exogenous anomaly in the record, and that replacing the recent divergent proxy record with real temperatures for the recent past creates a more accurate impression of the real global temperature than leaving in the proxy reconstruction post-divergence. Hardly the stuff that conspiracies are made of.

As further proof that scientists make poor conspirators, they follow the lead of Trenberth (albeit anachronistically) in describing what they did in the peer reviewed literature. Indeed, Jones’ reference to “Mike’s Nature trick” refers to a Nature paper by Michael Mann (and others) where the real temperature record was appended to proxy data, and this process is described in detail in the supporting documentation. It is worth noting, however, that the Mann et al paper in question did not drop any divergent data, though other subsequent publications (including the IPCC assessment reports have described the reason for doing so and Briffa’s original paper on the subject was quite frank about divergence issues.*

There has also been a lot of focus on the use of the word “trick” as somehow indicating intentional malfeasance, but the term trick is commonly used to refer to clever mathematical operations in numerous papers and should not offhand imply bad faith.

‘Get editorial board members to resign’

Some climate scientists have an unfortunate habit of dismissing arguments on blogs and other media as not being worth responding to because they are not published in peer-reviewed journals.

While it is true that the signal-to-noise ratio for many discussions on the internet is painfully low, there are important arguments that have been raised by Canadian mathematician Steve McIntyre, among others, that cannot be dismissed offhand simply because they are not published in the peer-reviewed literature.

Furthermore, the constant refrain by climate scientists for skeptics to “put up or shut up” by publishing is undermined by their own comments in some of the e-mails that show some scientists putting in quite a bit of effort to try and ensure that papers they deem flawed are not published.

This is tricky ground, with no bright line, since many will argue that the point of peer review is to screen out papers with poor or flawed methodology, and that editors on their own must help in separating pure chaff from wheat. Furthermore, many scientists argue that a sound paper would stand up on its own merits, and some skeptical papers that make it through peer review are sometimes given a free pass by ideologically sympathetic editors.

It is hard to completely buy the notion that ideology impacts only one side, however, or that this particular group of climate scientists does not allow their own preconceptions to affect what papers they like and dislike. That is not to suggest that the opposite extreme is desirable, that every paper with any position on climate science should be published regardless of its methodological merits out of some misguided sense of equal opportunity. Indeed, it is clear that some journals like Energy & Environment have occasionally let their standards drop because papers fit their own ideology.

The most commonly referenced example of this in the e-mails involves an incident where the journal Climate Research published a paper by Soon and Baliunas (2003). Their paper re-examined past proxy records and argued that recent temperature were by no means unprecedented over the past millennium.

The paper was immediately assailed by Mann, Jones, and others who accused a skeptical editor, Chris de Freitas, of letting the paper through with insufficient review by experts in the field. In the ensuing drama (recounted by a former editor here), half the editorial board resigned. Among those who resigned is Hans von Storch, the Editor-in-Chief, who is definitely not up-tight with Mann or Jones. The journal later released an editorial stating that “[Climate Research] should have requested appropriate revisions of the manuscript prior to publication.” Further paleoclimatological research has not supported the arguments in Soon and Baliunas (2003), and in this particular case it seems that the outside pressure on Climate Research may not have been untoward.

The Climate Research incident notwithstanding, other incidents in the e-mails do suggest a worrisome degree of collusion between some prominent scientists in marginalizing the views of skeptics with whom they disagree. This behavior on the part of scientists does not necessarily suggest that these skeptical papers were correct in their assertions by implication, or that climate scientists were somehow scrambling to defend a crumbling edifice as some skeptics suggest. Indeed, many of the papers that Jones et al objected to ended up being published by journals and even featured in the IPCC reports. Climate science is broad enough that no single group, however influential, can serve as inviolate gatekeepers of the peer reviewed literature.

‘Even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is’

Another e-mail message that has been distributed widely was a personal message sent from Phil Jones to Michael Mann where he remarks:

… The other paper by MM is just garbage – as you knew. De Freitas again. Pielke is also losing all credibility as well by replying to the mad Finn as well – frequently as I see it.
I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is ! [Emphasis added]

This e-mail refers to two papers, one by Kalnay and Cai (2003) in Nature and one by McKitrick and Michaels (2004) in Climate Research, both dealing with effects of land-use change on temperature measurements. Despite Jones’ dislike of the papers and his threat to keep them out of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, both papers were subsequently included in the Assessment, suggesting that no small group of scientists could be final arbiters of what is included in the IPCC reports.

‘Can you delete any e-mails …’

The University of East Anglia recently announced an independent investigation into the contents of the released e-mails to determine if any malfeasance had occurred, and Phil Jones has stepped down from his position as the head of the Climatic Research Unit pending the conclusion of the investigation. If anything contained in the e-mails has the potential to haunt Jones, it may be his suggestion to Keith Briffa, Michael Mann, and others that they should delete e-mail correspondences in order to avoid having to release them in response to Freedom of Information requests from climate skeptics associated with McIntyre’s Climate Audit blog:

Can you delete any e-mails you may have had with Keith re AR4?
Keith will do likewise. He’s not in at the moment – minor family crisis.

Can you also e-mail Gene and get him to do the same? I don’t have his new e-mail address.

We will be getting Caspar to do likewise.


While recipients of the e-mail say they did not act on the advice, recommending the destruction of material subject to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request may raise troubling questions under British law. While Jones and other climate scientists surely feel frustrated after being repeatedly bombarded with dozens of harassing FOI requests from skeptics, many of which they feel are motivated by political and not scientific concerns, the “delete” e-mail remark strikes many as inappropriate at best.

The Fallout

The release of the Climatic Research Unit e-mails is a blow to the reputation of many of the climate scientists involved, at least over the short run and perhaps among the public at large, if not necessarily among serious climatologists. They have been cast in a far different light from the general perception of scientists as impartial and impassionate.

Given the prominence of the scandal that has unfolded, it is unlikely that the whole affair will just fade away without anything changing. Indeed, there are growing calls for more openness and transparency in climate science research:  Climate scientists likely will have to accelerate efforts to be more open about their processes and data (though, to be fair, this is much further along than often thought).

It is unfortunate, if perhaps not surprising, that the quotes from the e-mails that have gotten the most publicity from skeptics and in some media strongly distort the views and actions of the scientists in question, contributing to a perception of collusion to manipulate the climate data itself.

Nothing contained in the e-mails, however, suggests that global temperature records are particularly inaccurate or, worse, that they have been manipulated to show greater warming. The  certainly troubling conduct exposed in some of the e-mails has little bearing on the fundamental science that strongly indicates that the world is warming and that anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are the primary cause.

For the scientists involved and for many of their professional colleagues, that is the “bottom line.” Whethere the public and its elected and appointed policy leaders reach that same conclusion remains to be seen.

- – - – - – -

* Editor’s Note: This paragraph was edited on 12/18 to clarify that the Mann et al 1998 study did not truncate the Briffa reconstruction.

Zeke Hausfather

Zeke Hausfather, a data scientist with extensive experience with clean technology interests in Silicon Valley, is currently a Senior Researcher with Berkeley Earth. He is a regular contributor to Yale Climate Connections (E-mail:, Twitter: @hausfath).
Bookmark the permalink.

43 Responses to The CRU E-mails: What is Really There?

  1. Kenneth Orski says:

    Yet another attempt to excuse inexcusable behavior

  2. Thank you for this excellent review of the context of the emails that are being used by the AGW theory’s ideological opponents to discredit the CRU and related scientists.

  3. Dan Rogers says:

    Private communicatons among the cognoscenti should not be made public. Ordinary people are not equipped to handle the truth, and ordinary people make up much of the public.

    This is not to say that the cognoscenti should not be allowed to chuckle and snicker among themselves over the ways in which they have been able to sell the multi-faceted idea (1) that the climate of the Earth is growing warmer at an unusual rate, (2) that the extra warming is being caused by an increase in the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere, and (3) that all or most of the extra carbon dioxide emanates from humans burning coal and other carbon fuels. It is, after all, a clever trick, and clever tricksters should not be expected NOT to gloat and to congratulate one another from time to time.
    It must be done in private, however, and special care must be taken not to give away secrets.

  4. Dave McK says:

    Actually, it was a nice try. You dug in a little bit- but when you go looking for something to prove, you overlook the obvious.
    Here is the full context of the bit of email you analyzed- by one of the principals:

    Now, please, pay attention to this:
    Want to talk about oil financing an agenda any more? Let us do!

    Before you wake up, some heroes you’ve been abusing will save your sorry butt. Were you watching the carbon derivatives bubble ready to grow as large as the world GDP? With you in the crow’s nest, we’d be hulled and marooned on Piltdown Island.

    There is clearly a systemic problem at universities where this fanatical narcissism is bred.

  5. Michael Lenaghan says:

    The first IPCC report featured a historical temperature reconstruction by Hubert Lamb–the founder of CRU. That reconstruction showed a marked medieval warm period (MWP) with recent temperatures not quite matching those of the past.

    The third IPCC report featured a historical temperature reconstruction by Michael Mann. That reconstruction became known as the “hockey stick”. It showed a nearly flat historical temperature followed by a very steep increase in modern times.

    The “hide the decline” comment refers to the the use of tree ring proxies in temperature reconstructions. The problem is that tree rings show a decline after 1960 or so while instruments show an increase. That’s the “divergence problem”. At various times Mann and Jones have dealt with that problem by either terminating the series around 1960–literally hiding the end of the series under another line on the graph–or by using instrumental data to pad out the end-point smoothing of the tree ring proxy. (That has the effect of making the series turn upward before it ends–making it look like a good temperature proxy.)

    So why did they go to all that trouble to hide the divergence? Because showing it would demonstrate that tree rings are probably not a good temperature proxy. And tree rings are critical to flattening the handle of the hockey stick in Mann’s reconstruction. (Recent reconstructions that don’t use tree rings look more like Lamb’s.)

    So why does the hockey stick matter? Because much of AGW theory is based on the premise that current temperatures are “unprecedented.” If they aren’t “unprecedented” then–by definition–we’re within the range of natural variability and any CO2 signal would be lost in the noise.

  6. Why don’t you provide an innocent explanation of this from Michael Mann?

    “I know I probably don’t need to mention this, but just to insure absolutely clarify on this, I’m providing these for your own personal use, since you’re a trusted colleague. So please don’t pass this along to others without checking w/ me first. This is the sort of “dirty laundry” one doesn’t want to fall into the hands of those who might potentially try to distort things…”

  7. anon says:

    “In the ensuing drama (recounted by a former editor here), half the editorial board resigned. Among those who resigned is Hans von Storch, the Editor-in-Chief, who is definitely not up-tight with Mann or Jones. The journal later released an editorial stating that “[Climate Research] should have requested appropriate revisions of the manuscript prior to publication.””

    I don’t believe this is accurate. If I understand what Roger Pielke, Jr., and Hans Von Storch say about this incident, Von Storch resigned because the journal would not let him publish an editorial at the time discussing this, not because Von Storch resigned out of some alignment with Mann.

    You may also want to look at McIntyre’s reconstruction of the “hide the decline” emails and the criticism of his reconstruction. Both are needed (and should be vetted) to really understand what the scientists had been talking about up through and including the hide the decline email.

  8. joe matais says:

    The only addition I could make to the preceeding is the obvious and unstated. That is, whoever propounds AGW, must PROVE their theory. The burden of proof remains with them and no amount of villification of the skeptics alters this most fundamental aspect of the scientific method. No proof has been offered. The only information available are manipulations intended to establish corelation, which, if it exists, is a long way from causation. Faux science and fear mongering are a poor substitute.

  9. David Brewer says:

    It’s great to see some calm and rational discussion of Climategate, from either side of this remarkably polarised debate.

    However, we all have our biases, and there is still some in your presentation. It is not that what you say is wrong, it’s just that you tend to over-emphasise the points which favour a benign interpretation.

    OK, prove it, I hear you cry. Well, about Trenberth. Sure he published a paper on the same subject he is complaining about – the inability of current measurement systems to identify where heat is disappearing to. So, granted, it’s no great revelation if he talks about this in an e-mail. But what about the actual issue? It is that the world is not warming up as greenhouse models project.

    Now there are two main types of possible explanation for this. Trenberth takes for granted that the models are correct, so he looks for the missing heat. The other explanation is that the models are wrong and that the greenhouse mechanism does not produce as much heat as the models simulate. Until he finds the missing warming, Trenberth’s explanation lacks an empirical foundation. The other explanation is based on the current empirical foundation – i.e. not enough apparent warming. This is the real reason for Trenberth’s frustration – he is getting worried he is wrong and he does not want to face this. That is a most understandable human reaction, but he will have to get over it if he wants to be remembered as a great scientist.

    On Phil Jones’ trick, of course it has been overplayed, and is not nearly as dishonest as many TV presentations imply. The real problems with it are that the final WMO graphs gave no hint that instrumental temperatures had been spliced in, that Mann claimed afterwards that no scientist had ever spliced them in, and that the divergence problem was avoided in the fourth IPCC report when it needed to be discussed. All this gave a false sense of certainty about reconstructions, though it does not, on its own, invalidate reconstructions.

    Overall, you’re right that the e-mails don’t change the science much. But there are differing ways to view that science. You seem confident that current temperature trends bear out high-sensitivity greenhouse models. But the evidence is pretty marginal at this stage. We see 0.4 to 0.5 degrees warming over the past 30+ years. That is at or below the bottom of the range of model hindcasts for the IPCC’s high, 3-degree climate sensitivity. And the observed warming is biased upwards by the fact that both the large, cooling volcanic eruptions over the period are in the first half of the record. Take those out, and allow for the slight preponderance of El Nino in recent years, and you are looking at an underlying trend of about 1 degree a century – noticeable in the long run, but hardly an imminent catastrophe.

  10. Keith MacDonald says:

    What’s your response to Hans von Storch’s comments?

    Hans von Storch: “It appears from the so-called CRU-Mails that the cartel has sinned against
    a basic scientific principle namely the principle of transparency. Science should be practiced
    openly. All published results should in principle be verifiable, should be open to criticism,
    also to criticism from people who are not well-meaning. That is something a scientist must
    accept, that people who are not well-meaning scrutinize him.
    The e-mails from CRU indicate that there have been attempts to keep people from publishing
    by contacting authors or publishers, that one lead author of the IPPC has at the least expressed
    the thought of keeping certain persons out of the whole process and lastly, and possibly the
    worst, that the data on which their research is based has not been put into the open for
    verification. This is not acceptable.”

    English translation here:

  11. Patrick Kiser says:

    Question 1: if, instead of attempting to use proxy data in this way to show the temperature record, you were assessing a pharmaceutical for efficacy (or safety!), what do you think FDA’s response would be?

    Question 2: If you declined to make your raw data on a pharmaceutical trial available for review, what would FDA’s response be?

    Question 3: If researchers decided to destroy data in response to a request by FDA, would the public be correct in it’s perception that someone was trying to cover up contradictory data?

  12. NormD says:

    What is the evidence for your statement “after being repeatedly bombarded with dozens of harassing FOI requests from skeptics”? How many FOI requests were there? How many of these were duplicates and thus could be answered by a single response? How do you define “harassing FOI requests”? Would you excuse the behavior allow all targets of FOI requests who feel they are being harassed?

  13. I was one of the people who was submitted an FoI request to the University of East Anglia. My request was granted in 2007.

    In 2007, I published a peer-reviewed paper that was partially based on the data obtained via my FoI request. The paper was entitled “The fraud allegation against some climatic research of Wei-Chyung Wang”. Wang’s research was relied upon by the IPCC for an important issue (urbanization effects).

    The leaked e-mails show that Tom Wigley, one of the most highly-cited climatologists and an extreme warming advocate, thought my paper was “valid”. They also show that Phil Jones, the head of the Climatic Research Unit, tried to get the journal editor to not publish my paper.

    After my paper was published, the State University of New York, where the research was conducted, carried out an investigation. During the investigation, I was not interviewed: contrary to the university’s policies, federal regulations, and natural justice. I was allowed to comment on the report of the investigation, but I was not allowed to see the report.

    The report apparently concluded that there was no fraud. The leaked files contain the defense against my allegation. The defense is obviously and strongly contradicted by the documentary record. It is no surprise, then, that the university still refuses to release the report.

    Further details are on my site, at

  14. Neil Craig says:

    I was quite impressed by Gary Funkhouser’s email even if it is a little to long tp maske as classic a soundbite as Jones’ hide the decline.
    ” really wish I could be more positive about the Kyrgyzstan material, but I swear I pulled every trick out of my sleeve trying to milk something out of that. It was pretty funny though – I told Malcolm what you said about my possibly being too Graybill-like in evaluating the response functions – he laughed and said that’s what he thought at first also. The data’s tempting but there’s too much variation even within stands. I don’t think it’d be productive to try and juggle the chronology statistics any more than I already have”

    Difficult to say that this is not fraud.

    I note the forum has also censored a remark from Bishop Hill which I had better not repeat but is clearly simple factual. The halls of academe aren’t what they used to be.

  15. Tilo Reber says:

    Okay, let’s start with the Trenberth quote. You are clearly diminishing it’s significance. The issue is not about 2008 being a cool year as a result of La Nina, but rather the issue is that the entire trend from 1998 to 2008 is flat. It’s an 11 year flat period where we should have experienced .22C of warming if the IPCC projections are correct. It’s the 11 years that are the issue, not the single year 2008. If 2008 had been an El Nino year in an otherwise rising trend from 1998, then there would be no issue. What Trenberth and the rest of the alarmist community are unable to identify are the elements of natural variation that have caused the entire period from 1998 to 2008 to go flat. The fact that they cannot point to the natural elements of variation that are responsible indicates that they don’t have enough information to model the climate in any meaningful way, and that models that project into the future are therefore meaningless.

  16. Steve Fitzpatrick says:

    No, the emails do not change radiative physics. How could they?

    But what the emails do clearly is portray a group of scientists acting in ways that are wholly inappropriate and clearly unethical. These people appear driven by “green” ideology, and are quite willing to make clear misrepresentations of the state of “the science”, especially with regard to uncertainty. All publications and pronouncements are evaluated for potential political impact, and extraordinary (and unethical) steps, such as conspiring to corrupt the peer review process, are taken to avoid giving ammunition to the “the other side”. It is an obvious case of desired ends being used to justify the unethical means.

    The worst part is that they are completely unrepentant, and will no doubt continue behaving just as they have over the last 10 years.

    If I had a a scientist or engineer working for me who had behaved unethically, and who I believed would continue to do so, I would simply fire him or her. And I think that is the appropriate response in this case.

    You go much too easy on these out-of-control climate scientists.

  17. Charly says:

    “Nothing contained in the e-mails, however, suggests that global temperature records are particularly inaccurate or, worse, that they have been manipulated to show greater warming.”

    That may be so but the Harry_readme.txt file tell another story. I am personally wondering if I should keep using the CRU TS 2.1 data as a result. Harry’s comments seem to indicate it might be tainted.

  18. Tilo Reber says:

    I’m afraid that your explanation of “the nature trick” and “hide the decline” is also a whitewash. When you remove data from a proxy reconstruction and continue that reconstruction with surface temperature and then call the resulting product proxy data, as Jones did, you have manufactured a lie – pure and simple. You can put the instrument data on the same chart with the proxy data and in a different color; but you cannot simply replace the proxy data with instrument data and continue to call the result a proxy reconstruction. Obviously if the proxy data had gone up, it would not have been replaced. It’s impossible to see how anyone can interpret such an action as anything other than attempting to fool the public. Mann’s own trick was not to replace Briffa’s proxy data, but rather it was just to cut off Briffa’s data and then hide the cutoff by making it flow into other proxy lines as though it had just gone behind those lines.

    I also think that your statement that hundreds of papers have been written on the divergence problem is a huge overstatement. Certainly the trick that Mann used on Briffa’s data was not exposed in the IPCC report where the chart was used. And the divergence problem was not discussed. A paper on the divergence problem may be well known to a few dendrochronologists, but it is not well known to the public or even to scientists as a whole. So not exposing this problem in the IPCC report is definitely equivalent to hiding it.

    The cause of the divergence remains an unknown. And it may be for a much longer period than just from 1980. The fact that cherrypicked data sets like the Graybill data and the Yamal data correspond well to 20th century warming really doesn’t indicate that dendrochronology can be trusted. Bottom line is that if tree rings didn’t follow the temperature today, then they may very well not have been following them in the past. And while you claim that there are non tree ring proxies that confirm Mann’s hockey stick results, there are also many, many, proxies that contradict it. The Loehle and Hu reconstruction, for example.

    In any case, there are many problems that were brought out by the climategate letters that you have glossed over. For example, the very validity of tree ring proxies that go back more than 100 years is questioned in this email.

    And this is from an email by Briffa:

    “I know there is pressure to present a nice tidy story as regards ‘apparent unprecedented warming in a thousand years or more in the proxy data’ but in reality the situation is not quite
    so simple. We don’t have a lot of proxies that come right up to date and those that do (at least a significant number of tree proxies ) some
    unexpected changes in response that do not match the recent warming. I do not think it wise that this issue be ignored in the chapter.
    For the record, I do believe that the proxy data do show unusually warm conditions in recent decades. I am not sure that this unusual warming
    is so clear in the summer responsive data. I believe that the recent warmth was probably matched about 1000 years ago. I do not believe that global mean annual temperatures have simply cooled progressively over thousands of
    years as Mike appears to and I contend that that there is strong evidence for major changes in climate over the Holocene (not Milankovich) that
    require explanation and that could represent part of the current or future background variability of our climate.”

    Regarding the context of the “nature trick”, Steve McIntyre has done a masterful job of providing all of the backgound surrounding the email here:

  19. DaveH says:

    Climategate is not just the emails.

    There were over 3,400 other files comprising some 150MB along with the 1,073 emails that were leaked by the whistle-blower.

    These files include the source code and data that were used to generate the results seen by the scientific community and general public.

    The emails are just the icing, the code and the data are the Earth Shattering Ka-Boom…

  20. steve-roberts says:

    The emails – we can each take a view on the values of the people writing them. My view is pretty scathing. However, in addition to the mails, many data files were released / leaked, including HARRY_READ_ME. The evidence of the files is a total lack of data management and version control, which in itself means the CRU analysis cannot be relied on. If we are to make decisions based on Climate Science, we have to start again, from the raw data, and this time use methods appropriate to the gravity of the issues.

  21. Tilo Reber says:

    “While Jones and other climate scientists surely feel frustrated after being repeatedly bombarded with dozens of harassing FOI requests from skeptics, many of which they feel are motivated by political and not scientific concerns, the “delete” e-mail remark strikes many as inappropriate at best.”

    This is another misrepresentation. If you follow the email chain you will see that Jones was trying to figure out how to get out of compliance with FOI long before he even received his first FOI request. And he said that he hoped no one knew about the FOI laws. Jones probably spent more time and energy trying to deny the requests than he ever would have had he granted them. And the only reason that there were many requests was that he failed to comply with the earlier requests.

  22. just joe says:

    This is one of many “words don’t mean what they mean” defenses of the E-mails. Each time a climate scientist writes a sentence it requires three paragraphs of decryption, each paragraph needs a dictionary. Actually, the e-mails speak for themselves.

    The e-mails may not affect the science; it is not clear to me that these gentlemen were doing science. The case for action on AGW is, however, very much affected in at least two ways:

    1) the case for action appeals to the overwhelming consensus in the literature as assessed by the IPCC. But these guys colluded to skew both the literature and the IPCC process.

    2) the hockey stick plays prominently (and powerfully) in the AGW argument – warming is unprecedented and precipitous. But these guys conspired to hide data and duck critical review; they basically subverted what the paying public has every right to expect from the scientific process.

    So, the plain reality is that these E-mails show top climate scientists acting very badly. It is naive to think the bad behavior stops with them. The case for action on AGW is now very suspect. The public is correct in demanding a full accounting from scientists and a re-assessment of the case for action. And a new paradigm going forward.

    Sometimes we outsmart ourselves; these guys did. I think this editorial does too.

    This is a sad time for science. Please don’t make it worse.

  23. gene stevens says:

    WIth respect to the addition of thermometer readings onto the proxy data (post 1960), it is essential to realize that those readings have their own issues. Siting issues have resulted in a warm bias at 89% of the instrument shelters, according to a recent inventory of the 1,200 some odd locations. How convenient…

    Also, one can make the argument that the IPCC’s claims of AGW have now been invalidated, given that the CRU data comprises much of the foundation of their positions…that foundation apparently is made of sandstone…

  24. Anna Haynes says:

    How many of you contrarian commenters are willing to stand behind your claims? And (this is nonprofit market research) would you be willing to stake, say, $10 that your assertion has merit?
    (I ask because otherwise we have a commenters’ Gish Gallop, that drowns out any comments of merit.)

    For example, Douglas J. Keenan above (“I… submitted an FoI request… [then] published a peer-reviewed paper…”) – I followed your link, and that paper was published in Energy and Environment, which is *infamous* – it has a less-than-zero reputation in climate science, and publishing there would be like publishing a peer reviewed paper where the peers are fellow denizens of my local coffeehouse.

    IMO what Zeke should do is set up some groundrules for comment validity (#1: Energy and Environment is not a legitimate peer reviewed publication), post these groundrules & link to them; then ask contrarian commenters to click on the (as yet nonexistent, alas) checkbox if they’re willing to stand behind their words & pay the poor sod who’s willing to plow through and find the flaws in the contrarian’s comment, if such flaws are found.

    Otherwise it’s chaff, pure and simple.
    (well, maybe not pure, and often not so simple either…)
    But that would be one way to get your comment read and responded to, if you think it has quality. And if you don’t, there are many other venues that happily accept chaff comments.

  25. Dano says:

    Folks are still hyperventilating over quote-mined e-mails.

    Why are folks still hyperventilating over quote-mined e-mails?

    Because that’s all they have to hyperventilate about.

    They have nothing else.

    No body of literature to point to, no data, no models, no equations, no testable hypotheses, no papers from the stolen e-mails that Drudge is red-lighting, no crawler on Faux 24/7 with names of papers and authors, no spittle-spew from Rush on a copy of a report…

    Nothing. Nothing but febrile speculation from nitwits, one month on. One month and nothing. Don’t the febrile nitwits think that by now, CEI-AEI-Cato or Murcoch’s or Koch’s/Scaife’s minions would have found something by now?

    Denialists look silly one month on and still jumping up and down and hand-waving over speculation.

    You are embarrassing yourselves. OR, they would if they had any shame.

    Help me understand why denialists still type and hit ‘send’ again? For attention?



  26. Arthur Smith says:

    “Just Joe” – you say “Each time a climate scientist writes a sentence it requires three paragraphs of decryption, each paragraph needs a dictionary.” – yes, when communicating amongst themselves, that is how communication works. When communicating with the public the words chosen have to be clear, but in private communications, jargon and short-hand is not only common, it’s essential to actually make the communications useful.

    I challenge anybody who criticizes the CRU emails to publish the last 10 years of their own emails and let the rest of us cherry-pick out the seemingly worst short-hand off-the-top-of-the-head comments. What, no takers? Hypocrites.

  27. Jim Steele says:

    I suggest that there are several other emails that expliciitly show corruption!

    Here is a one sample of emails where data was requested and then denied because Phil didn’t want the researcher to “find something wrong with it” Suck it up Phil that is the foundation of true science. Allowing others to verify or falsify you work. You decide if Phil is hiding.

    Warwick Hughes to Phil Jones, September ‘04:

    Dear Phillip and Chris Folland (with your IPCC hat on),
Some days ago Chris I emailed to Tom Karl and you replied re the grid cells in north Siberia with no stations, yet carrying red circle grid point anomalies in the TAR Fig 2.9 global maps. I even sent a gif file map showing the grid cells barren of stations greyed out. You said this was due to interpolation and referred me to Phillip and procedures described in a submitted paper. In the last couple of days I have put up a page detailing shortcomings in your TAR Fig 2.9 maps in the north Siberian region, everything is specified there with diagrams and numbered grid points.

    [1] One issue is that two of the interpolated grid cells have larger anomalies than the parent cells !!!!?????
This must be explained.

    [2] Another serious issue is that obvious non-homogenous warming in Olenek and Verhojansk is being interpolated through to adjoining grid cells with no stations, like cancer.

    [3] The third serious issue is that the urbanization affected trend from the Irkutsk grid cell neare Lake Baikal, looks to be interpolated into its western neighbour.

    I am sure there are many other cases of this, 2 and 3 happening.
Best regards,
Warwick Hughes (I have sent this to CKF)

    Phil to Warwick, same email:

I did not think I would get a chance today to look at the web page. I see what boxes you are referring to. The interpolation procedure cannot produce larger anomalies than neighbours (larger values in a single month). If you have found any of these I will investigate. If you are talking about larger trends then that is a different matter. Trends say in Fig 2.9 for the 1976-99 period require 16 years to have data and at least 10 months in each year. It is conceivable that at there are 24 years in this period that missing values in some boxes influence trend calculation. I would expect this to be random across the globe.
Been away. Just checked my program and the interpolation shouldn’t produce larger anomalies than the neighbouring cells. So can you send me the cells, months and year of the two cells you’ve found ? If I have this I can check to see what has happened and answer (1). As for (2) and (3) we compared all stations with neighbours and these two stations did not have problems when the work was done (around 1985/6). I am not around much for the next 3 weeks but will be here most of this week and will try to answer (1) if I get more details. If you have the names of stations that you’ve compared Olenek and Verhojansk with I would appreciate that.


    Then later Phil Jones famously replied:

    Subject: Re: WMO non respondo
… Even if WMO agrees, I will still not pass on the data. We have 25 or so years invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it. …
Cheers Phil

    Following this there are several emails about how Phil and others discuss how to evade FOI requests. I can post those if anyone wants to read them. How can this be anything other than corruption of the very foundation of science requiring independent replication or results?!?! Shame on Yale for trying to sweep this under the rug.

  28. Jim Steele says:

    Mann’s manipulations creating the hockey stick came under attack. The one report that supported Mann’s tactics, and used as an “independent confirmations” was co-authored by Casper Amman, who is the same person along with Mann that Phil Jones is asking to delete emails. Sure nothing to see there! really?

    And this isn’t the first time Trenberth objectivity and political motivation has been called into question. Dr. Chris Landsea’s resignation letter to the IPCC is illustrative
    Excerpt: “It is beyond me why my colleagues would utilize the media to push an unsupported agenda that recent hurricane activity has been due to global warming. Given Dr. Trenberth’s role as the IPCC’s Lead Author responsible for preparing the text on hurricanes, his public statements so far outside of current scientific understanding led me to concern that it would be very difficult for the IPCC process to proceed objectively with regards to the assessment on hurricane activity. …”
    And observations from Florida State Univ. show Trenberth was wrong and Landsea right.

  29. Ryan says:

    Tagging a name onto a problem and writing it up in some journals doesn’t explain it away. It’s still there and it still casts doubt on the method. You give a period of 200 years for the confirmed record, that’s not what I usually see more like 150, with recognition that pre 1900 is quite unreliable. The regression methods they use will naturally align for the period that is regressed against as that’s where the model learns it’s response behaviour, outside of that period is where it can fail, and has here. Consider if this so-called divergence ‘problem’ were to persist long enough it would then define the normal relation for the proxy and the previous non-diverged relation would be the anomaly (and we’d flip our definition of ‘diverge’). When this method fails in the decades immediately following the one it based it’s learning on then how can you reliably use it to predict temperature 5 centuries previously? It can’t so they hide that inconvenient fact on any charts you display it on.

  30. Tony says:

    Here is the post CRU-mail problem in a nutshell;

    Can any climate scientists refute the findings of this kid on youtube?

  31. Neil Craig says:

    Anna Haynes asks if we would be willing to bet $10 on not facing catastrophic warming. This seems a rather small sum, particularly since we are all, involuntarily through government, betting very much more already already betting $800 million a day on the Kyoto process. I do not make that bet willingly because it is clear such warming is not happening but don’t have the choice.

  32. Steve Bloom says:

    Zeke, in the coverage of this I keep seeing comments like your “nothing in the e-mails significantly calls into question the fundamentals underlying scientific understanding of the climate system.” Why the multiple qualifiers? There’s an implication that some non-fundamental aspects may have been undermined, and there’s absolutely no evidence for that. Or perhaps we can try this on for size: “The coverage of the scandal doesn’t undermine the fundamental value of journalism.” The inplication that there’s something wrong with the coverage is crystal clear.

    Also, while I’m sure McIntyre greatly appreciates being referred to as a mathematician, I think “retired mining executive” is more accurate. Real mathematicians tend to have PhDs and careers in the field. McIntyre has neither (just a bachelor’s, actually). Alternatively you could refer to him as an amateur mathematician.

    Finally, given the remarkable lack of comments by experts in British FOI law who have examined the details and concluded that there’s definitely something wrong (which BTW there doesn’t seem to be, given the “absolute” exemption under section II.41 for confidential communications), it’s past time for journalists to drop the FOI innuendo.

  33. Mikep says:

    Here are links to two papers which the team seemed to be very keen to suppress. Neither seems to me obvious nonsense; indeed they seem like significant contributions to the literature.

    Note that the second one is a revised version of the one turned down in 2003.

  34. bubbapt says:

    Gee, Stevie, how about commenting on his scientific observations? If the MWP actually was warmer than today, that would be a little bit more than “non-fundamental”? I’m not a Ph.D., heck, heck, I’m just a dumb ole’ country boy, but I know when somebody’s trying duck n’ cover.

    Just comment on the science, bro.

  35. Mikep: Both of those papers seem interesting, though I don’t have the background on the subject to assess their relative merits. The fact that they were published, however, is a good sign that they had some merit, objections from Jones et al notwithstanding. Of course, just because any individual paper makes it through peer review does not mean its conclusion will necessarily be shown to be correct in the long term.

    bubbapt: most reconstructions do show the MWP reasonably close to present temps (e.g. ). That said, there is some evidence that the MWP may have been a more regional rather than global event, as it does not show up strongly in proxy records from the Southern Hemisphere. While proxy reconstructions have become somewhat more representative in recent years, they still have a strong northern hemispheric bias. Regardless, we do not have a complete picture of climate forcings during the MWP. A MWP close to today’s temps, even if it is global, does not suggest a natural cause of modern warming, given that we have a reasonably good understanding of modern forcings. Given the expected warming over the next century based on our current best-guess climate sensitivity (approx 3 degrees C per doubling of atmospheric CO2-eq), temperatures in this century will considerably exceed anything seen in the Holocene (indeed, some argue that current temps already have surpassed any prior Holocene temps, but the data on past temps is understandably shaky).

    Steve: whether you like McIntyre or not, he does have a strong grasp on statistics, and has done some interesting work. If anything, the whole email scandal shows the problems associated with dismissing him and other more erudite skeptics out-of-hand.

    Tony: and are both more-than-sufficient refutations. Also see JohnV’s interrum results from Watt’s SurfaceStations project:

    Ryan: I agree that the divergence problem casts doubts on the effectiveness of dendro proxies, though its worth noting that its more evident in some series (particularly northern hemisphere boreal forests) than others. Regardless, you can still make compelling paleo-reconstructions for the past millennium excluding divergent dendro series.

    Tilo Reber: I agree that Jones was at fault in trying to avoid responding to the initial FOI request. However, the response by many on the skeptic community, to file hundreds of FOI requests is arguably a form of harassment (and there are plenty of threads at CA or Lucia’s place where people brag about all the FOI requests they have filed, and Hansen, who is somewhat uninvolved in the whole email affair, reports receiving dozens of FOI requests in recent months).

    To everyone: there is more here than I can respond to in a reasonable timeframe, given the demands of my day job, and I imagine in many cases we may end up agreeing to disagree. Regardless, I think we should be able to agree that there is nothing in this affair that implicates the validity of surface temperature records like HadCRUt and others, and the concerns over proxy reconstructions are hardly new (witness the ongoing “hockeystick debate” in the blogs). The actions by some scientists to lean on journals to avoid publishing skeptical papers is certainly problematic, though the fact that most of the papers in question were eventually published (and referenced in the IPCC reports) suggests the role of this particular group of scientists as gatekeepers is somewhat overstated. Some of you may believe that this is the “last nail in the coffin of AGW”, as the tired cliche goes, but we will see if the actual science changes as a result. I personally don’t think it will, even if the whole affair has a large effect on the public perception of the science, given the lack of any new substantive evidence in the emails of scientific misconduct (the truncation of the Briffa series in a graph in a non-peer-reviewed WMO report notwithstanding).

  36. Dr Michael Cejnar says:

    Your “just human” defense of CRU scientists is not acceptable given the “above reproach” status given to their results and those of the IPCC by governments around the world. The public assumes scientists are impartial, but if we are spending trillions of dollars based on data produced by “just human” scientists, then lets threat their data as such, and make it public and audited by independent bodies, as we do with other “just human” endeavors such as accounting, pharmaceuticals, medicine and countless others.

    Oh, and any discussion of climategate emails that does not analyze the computer code is misleading by omission.

  37. Mikep says:

    The point is that they were NOT published. The NBER paper does now seem to have been given at a big time series conference, but the first draft was in 2003 and its now 2009. This was the paper that in the climategate emails one of teh reviewers said “could do a lot of damage”.

  38. bubbapt says:

    So, why was the “hockey stick” graph based in part on Briffa’s tree ring data, if tree rings were shown be a poor model for comparison (based on post-1960 results). Wouldn’t Keigwin’s Sargasso Sea data have been equally good or better?

    Keigwin appears to show that the MWP was 1 degree C warmer than current temps.

  39. Dr. Cejnar,

    The reason I didn’t address the “Harry” code log in this post is twofold:

    First, its not among the email issues most widely discussed outside of specialized climate blogs as far as I can tell.

    Second, I have not been able to find anything particularly problematic about it. The one part of it I’ve seen tossed around relates to tree ring calibration tests that were (in the end) never published. It contains a line “; Apply a VERY ARTIFICAL correction for decline!!” which needs to be contextualized by realizing that the line is commented out, and the code later uses no correction. For more on this, see Deltoid:

    This is a raw change log of code used by a single individual over the years to experiment with different methods of analyzing the data. I know that I personally often try different corrections in my code, though I would only keep one that was physically justifiable (which, as the comment alluded to, was not the case here and the code snippet was not used).

    Also, I think you are somewhat over-emphasizing the importance of the dozen-odd scientists involved in the emails. They certainly aren’t the IPCC (of which they make up ~5%), or all of climate science (< 1%). And, apart from a few from Jones, Mann, and some others, most of the emails are completely benign.

    Finally, all of the code used in HadCRUt is (finally!) being released by CRU. Similarly, NASA GISS temperature and climate model code has all been publicly available for years (and even has a new independent rewrite in python: If you believe some improper data manipulation is occurring, go examine the code and figure out what the problematic adjustment is. Write it up, submit it to a journal, and see what your scientific peers think. If your complaint with CRUTemp or GISS is valid, they will most likely adjust their methods to fix the problem. That is how science works.

    However, most of the work that had looked at systemic biases in adjustments (see and for example) has not found any evidence of systemic correction bias.

  40. Cary Swoveland says:

    Steve Bloom said (above): “Also, while I’m sure McIntyre greatly appreciates being referred to as a mathematician, I think “retired mining executive” is more accurate. Real mathematicians tend to have PhDs and careers in the field. McIntyre has neither (just a bachelor’s, actually). Alternatively you could refer to him as an amateur mathematician.”

    I got a laugh out of that, and am reminded of an amateur physicist who worked in a patent office.

    I have a Ph.D. from UCLA. My field was an area of applied mathematics, with a minor in statistics. I would like to make two points. The first is that the statistical techniques McIntrye has been looking at are really not all that difficult to master by anyone with a solid math background and a good brain. McIntytre gets checkmarks in both boxes. My second point is this. In my academic career, and subsequently as a consultant, I encountered many a Ph.D. misusing statistical analysis in myraid, and sometimes unbelievable, ways. In my experience, having a Ph.D. in a field other than mathematics and statistics (climate science, for one) says nothing–absolutely nothing–about the holders competence in the use of statistical analysis.

  41. Mikep says:

    The dozen or so scientists you refer to constitute the principal contributors to the dendroclimatology part of the IPCC report. And they seem to have been trying very hard to keep any alternative views out of the IPCC review and out of the peer-reviewed literature. The contrast between the treatment of Aufhammer et al I referred to above (which was admitted to be mathematically correct but was nonetheless recommended to be rejected) and Schmidt in International Journal of Climatology (S09) is striking. The Jones review of Schmidt can be found under review schmidt.doc here

    What is most striking is that S09 appears to wrong in important respects. See McKitrick, Ross R. and Nicolas Nierenberg (2009). Correlations between Surface Temperature Trends and Socioeconomic Activity: Toward a Causal Interpretation . Submitted to International Journal of Climatology. Which can be found here

  42. Steven Mosher says:

    There are quite a few things to correct here.

    Most notably.

    While recipients of the e-mail say they did not act on the advice, recommending the destruction of material subject to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request may raise troubling questions under British law. While Jones and other climate scientists surely feel frustrated after being repeatedly bombarded with dozens of harassing FOI requests from skeptics, many of which they feel are motivated by political and not scientific concerns, the “delete” e-mail remark strikes many as inappropriate at best.


    You have all the facts wrong here. In 2007 there was a grand total of 2 FOIA sent to CRU. Mcintyre and Eschenbach.

    In 2008 when the mail in question was written there was only 1 FOIA sent to CRU. This was an FOIA from Holland.
    The FOIA covered corrsepondence about IPCC issues. basically, Briffa passed a copy of the draft report to Wahl.
    Wahl wasnt a reviwer. briffa had been instructed not to communicate directly with people not on the writing team. Anyways, Briffa was lifting words from Wahl papers and didnt want to get caught.

    The “dozens’ of FOIA came in sept 2009.

  43. Deep Climate says:

    For the record, Steve McIntyre’s account of “hide the decline”, as it relates to IPCC Tar Fig 3.21, is completely wrong (and libellous to boot). Tilo Reber’s comment (which you didn’t bother to answer) refers to this.

    Zeke, you need to distinguish carefully between McIntyre’s legitimate criticisms, which are frankly few and far between, and his constant stream of false accusations which have been parroted by so many.

    Taking the one small (but admittedly valid) point that McIntyre has built his entire “climate audit” career on: yes, MBH should not have used short-centred PCA. But its effect on the MBH reconstruction has been greatly exaggerated. For example, most do not realize that short-centred PCA was only used to reduce tree-ring data sets, not the main analysis.

    Moreover, you state elsewhere:
    “… the issue has been addressed extensively since then and new techniques avoid some of the pitfalls of the original decentered Principal Component Analysis approach.”

    This betrays fundamental misunderstanding on your part.

    The fact is that if you correct the “decentred” PCA in the NA tree-ring reduction step and leave the rest of the methodology unchanged, there is no significant change to the MBH reconstruction. The only way McIntyre was able to show otherwise was by changing the MBH PCA from standardized (svd on correlation matrix) to non-standardized (svd on covariance matrix). And then he *also* selected only the first two PCs, instead of applying a reasonable critrerion for PC retention as MBH had done. This is well documented in the scientific literature and I find it shocking you do not understand this.

    Likewise, McIntyre’s claims of “spurious hockey sticks from red noise” (GRL 2005) focus only on PC1 in the tree-ring data reduction step, and not the ensemble of PCs actually produced by MBH algorithm in that step. And it also rested on the use of a wholly inappropriate noise model (ARFIMA) in Monte Carlo null proxy tests. The biasing effect on PC1 is very much reduced if one uses AR1 “red noise” with similar properties as the tree-ring proxies themselves (but as I say there is *no* biasing effect if one considers the ensemble of PCs).

    And then on top of all that, McIntyre presented samples of those PC1s as if they were result of the end-to-end methodology applied to “red noise”. And that’s not all. He had a special 1% archive of the most upturning PC1s that he used in presentations and papers. And then, at least once he cherrypicked even among those 1% to get the most similar visually to the actual MBH reconstruction “blade” (see the George Marshall presentation in 2005).

    I guess you’re OK with all of that.

    As for McIntyre’s version of “hide the decline”, read and learn.