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Tuesday, December 01, 2009
Tierney's Take

On Climategate, which approximates mine:

While Harry is puzzling over temperatures — “I have that familiar Twilight Zone sensation” — the scientists are confidently making proclamations to journalists, jetting to conferences and plotting revenge against those who question the dangers of global warming. When a journal publishes a skeptic’s paper, the scientists e-mail one another to ignore it. They focus instead on retaliation against the journal and the editor, a project that is breezily added to the agenda of their next meeting: “Another thing to discuss in Nice!”

What I find most interesting is his explanation of the "hide the decline" bit:

Consider, for instance, the phrase that has been turned into a music video by gleeful climate skeptics: “hide the decline,” used in an e-mail message by Phil Jones, the head of the university’s Climatic Research Unit. He was discussing the preparation of a graph for the cover of a 1999 report from the World Meteorological Organization showing that temperatures in the past several decades were the highest of the past millennium.

Most of the graph was based on analyses of tree rings and other “proxy” records like ice cores and lake sediments. These indirect measurements indicated that temperatures declined in the middle of the millennium and then rose in the first half of the 20th century, which jibes with other records. But the tree-ring analyses don’t reveal a sharp warming in the late 20th century — in fact, they show a decline in temperatures, contradicting what has been directly measured with thermometers.

Because they considered that recent decline to be spurious, Dr. Jones and his colleagues removed it from part of the graph and used direct thermometer readings instead. In a statement last week, Dr. Jones said there was nothing nefarious in what they had done, because the problems with the tree-ring data had been openly identified earlier and were known to experts.

But if the tree-ring data is wrong for the later 20th century, then doesn't that indicate a problem with using it for earlier temperatures?

See also here for a shocker:

It turns out that global (or at least hemispheric) temperatures are reflected by the climate in western Ireland (for a short explanation of that, see my site). Trees grow in western Ireland, of course, and each year those trees grow a ring. Thick rings indicate climate conditions that were good for the trees; thin rings indicate the opposite. If many trees in western Ireland had thick rings in some particular years, then climatic conditions in those years were presumably good. Tree rings have been used in this way to learn about the climate centuries ago.

Queen’s University Belfast has data on tree rings that goes back millennia — and in particular, to the Medieval Warm Period. QUB researchers have not analyzed the data, because they lack the expertise to do so.

They also refuse to release the data. The story is scandalous.

Yeah, I'd agree.
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