Click images for more details



Recent comments
Recent posts
Currently discussing

A few sites I've stumbled across recently....

Powered by Squarespace
« Mothballed plant | Main | Sans raison - Josh 228 »

Yamal no more

Steve McIntyre has released a sudden flurry of blog posts on the subject of the Briffa et al 2013 paper. Today's offering contains the eye-opening news that CRU have finally backtracked from the Yamal hockey stick of "most important tree in the world" fame. The new version of the series is no longer hockey stick shaped and the modern portions resemble closely the versions of Yamal posted at Climate Audit as long ago as 2009, for which McIntyre was resoundingly condemned by mainstream climatologists.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

Reader Comments (105)

Rob Wilson (Jun 29, 2013 at 10:54 AM) said "HOWEVER - despite what you all think, Yamal alone was NOT the lone driver of the basic shape of NH reconstructions. If you don't believe me, go to the following link: download the TR data used for the DWJ06 NH RCS reconstruction and create your own NH series - one with Yamal and one without."

Thanks for the link, Rob.

I downloaded the spreadsheet and added a simple scatter plot for the 'NH Recons' and 'RCS Composites' workbook. If I assume the Yamal series is the POL set, then removing them certainly does not significantly alter the hockey stick 'blade'. However, what I did note is that the up-tick seems to be primarily due to the WRA series because removing this essentially removes the 'blade' altogether.

I'm sure I've done something silly and hope you can correct me because, if I believe what I see, the hockey stick shape in your data is due to just one series (i.e. the WRA, which I assume is the 'Wrangells' data)?

Jun 29, 2013 at 5:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave Salt

From the post and comments I'd hoped that Briffa had substantially revised his position on the "hockey stick". Having read the Briffa et al (2013) paper however, that's really not the case. It's true that they've removed the most egregious nonsense and altered their reconstruction of recent temperature history to better match Steve MacIntyre's but then they smooth the data over much longer periods so that a hockey stick emerges with little or no sign of a MWP.

Any rejoicing over Briffa et al properly understanding the shortcomings of their work (the "endless unintelligible squiggles" as Steve describes them) seems at best to be premature.

Jun 29, 2013 at 5:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterSimon Anthony

Jun 29, 2013 at 3:44 PM | Dung
Quite agree, and it should not be forgotten that Steve McIntyre is a retired professional mining engineer with competence in auditing mining projects. Also watching the Salby lectures it occurred to me at the second viewing of the Hamburg lecture that in his assessment of the ice core analyses there was much in common with Steve's approach.
Please correct me if I'm wrong, Steve.

Jun 29, 2013 at 5:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn in France

Hi Dung,

haha, yes I of course meant "amateur" in the literal unpaid sense. Steve is an intellectual Olympian in my book.

(also got a Maths degree and indeed won Maths prizes (OK, I was at school!) but sadly not in Steve's league. Also have zero of his equally impressive tenacity.)

Jun 29, 2013 at 5:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterSimonW

Is it possible that the Climate Science Rapid Response Team's assault vehicle is in the shop for major repairs?

Jun 29, 2013 at 6:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterPav Penna

Dave Salt.
Writing this from my phone.
Please dig out my 2007 paper and that might help with your Wrangell query.
Pdf can be downloaded from publication link at st andrews tree-ring lab webpage
Hope this helps

Jun 29, 2013 at 7:09 PM | Unregistered Commenterrob Wilson

Re: Athelstan Jun 29, 2013 at 12:10 PM

Steve McIntyre, he's not a scientist - no - he's just a fella who gets it right.

Steve's an engineer - he's a fella who has to get it right.

Jun 29, 2013 at 7:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterDusty

Tee hee.

Scientists. Such experts. We should look up to them. We should believe what they say. Really, we should. /scientific credibility

Jun 29, 2013 at 7:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames Evans

@pav penna

You say

'Is it possible that the Climate Science Rapid Response Team's assault vehicle is in the shop for major repairs?'

In the spirit of ISIHAC, perhaps we could amuse ourselves while waiting for the

Official Approved 100% right and no possibility of doubt Real Version From Real Climate Scientists with the Real Truth (updated, revised and improved from the last Real Truth - now with Extra Truth!!) - You'd better believe us this time peasants otherwise we'll be Very Upset and Gav and Mikey will write Nasty Things about You So be Very Concerned!

effusion from our Team, by specualtion on what it may contain.

Serious contributions only please! Perish the thought that levity or wit might creep into the discussions on this august board. Climatology is a very serious matter and we need to treat it and its practitioners with exactly the respect they so clearly deserve.

Jun 29, 2013 at 8:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

Lest any of the wide international audience be unfamiliar with the ambience of I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue, this little extract perfectly encapsulates the gravity of its deliberations

Jun 29, 2013 at 8:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

Like Dave Salt, I downloaded Rob Wilson's file and graphed the data. Indeed the WRA series appears to dominate the reconstruction. (1st slide of attached Powerpoint file). After dropping it, the second most obvious influential dataset is the POL (Polar Urals?) that is the subject of the disagreement between Rob Wilson and S. McIntyre. Dropping it (as Rob Wilson suggested) along with WRA, gives the third and last slide.

Probably hopelessly naive of me to simply take the mean of the datasets (shown in Black on the Powerpoint slides). However, forging ahead regardless, one can see that the highest mean values using all the data are mostly in the 20th century (1940s in particular), with a couple of entries from the 7th and 8th centuries. Dropping WRA alone puts these two centuries into the lead, with the top 9 entries. Dropping POL in addition gives them the top 12 slots.

Jun 29, 2013 at 8:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterLance Wallace

Ian888 says:

... it’s quite obvious that in 2009 and again in 2011, you shamelessly plagiarised Briffa 2013 ...

Jun 29, 2013 at 8:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

A couple of years ago I got chewed out by Steve in the comment below mine for saying this

but perhaps Briffa did eventually find his perch.

Jun 29, 2013 at 10:51 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

Much of the criticism of the various "hockey stick" papers is of the methodologies - the statistical techniques used, handling of data, etc..
Have any of them been reviewed by an independent expert in statistics?
(I realise that Steve M is very much an expert in this area but he has become associated with the skeptic side of the arguments.)
Indeed, extending the thought, it is hard to understand why the authors would not get an independent expert to run the rule over their work to ensure that it is bomb-proof. That would be an entirely reasonable step to take as they - I understand - are climate scientists, not statisticians.

Jun 29, 2013 at 10:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeH

I didn't realize that Tim Osborn of CRU has responded to my comment on this thread:

Tim Osborn commented on "The Yamal Deception"

As I mention periodically, I am not a scientist and do not pretend to engage in the detailed scientific and statistical debates. Mostly I have to try to judge who NOT to trust as a starting point for how one citizen (me) can form any opinions at all about the intersections between policy and science.

So far I give all points to Steve McIntyre and CA. I'm waiting to see anything more credible and convincing out of CRU etc.

Jun 29, 2013 at 11:07 PM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

I do like a bit of subtle trolling, no matter how cack-handed ...


Jun 29, 2013 at 11:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterPointman

All well and good but the UK govt has just restored the previous reduction in subsidies for windfarms and plans on giving away billions more for these bird chopping, bat munching white elephants. Apparently it's going to create a lot of jobs, at only £100,000 a pop.

Jun 30, 2013 at 12:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterSwiss Bob

Re: Athelstan Jun 29, 2013 at 12:10 PM

Steve McIntyre, he's not a scientist - no - he's just a fella who gets it right.

Steve's an engineer - he's a fella who has to get it right.

Thanks Dusty, what I should have made clear, that, Mr. McIntyre is not a climate scientist, no way. As you say Dusty - he has to be rather better than a climate scientist in his day job, defenestrating amateur geographers - is all done in hobby time. McIntyre, just hates inexactitude and inaccuracy - and fortunately for us - he went public.

Jun 30, 2013 at 12:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

This is all very strange to me. Why the hell would Briffa publish this now? It complete goes against AGW and proves SM correct. Is he having a guilt trip? Who allowed him within the team/CRU/journal reviewers to publish it? Basically the paper undermines all the previous paleo work and falsifies AGW.If true Briffa must be praised for his bravery and will be re-vindicated in his professional career we hope.. or they will simply fire him?

Jun 30, 2013 at 1:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterEliza


"Why the hell would Briffa publish this now?"

Whilst only Briffa et al can truly answer, personally I suspect the suits who, some many moons ago, put up the best part of £250k for Briffa and Co to investigate "The(ir) Divergence Problem", might have started questioning the gestation period of their investment?

Jun 30, 2013 at 1:34 AM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

I can now compare how much CO2 there is now against 170 years ago, and find the relationship between temperature and atmospheric CO2?

Jun 30, 2013 at 7:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterKen Gatewood

The "you all" language from Rob Wilson is unbecoming. Forgotten the costs the university ran up defending similar statements already?
Jun 29, 2013 at 2:51 PM shub

FOISA Request for "Insulting/Embarrassing" Emails

Jun 30, 2013 at 7:12 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

In the paper "The ‘Divergence Problem’ in tree-ring research" 2009 ( Rob Wilson is one of the dendocrinologists who tries to tackle this as it is "representing one potential ‘problem’ for dendroclimatology, and needs to be overcome if we aim to have faith in tree ring derived climate reconstructions". Others are root collars, strip barks etc.
Those scary climate hockey sticks were made of balsa wood.

Jun 30, 2013 at 8:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterAntonyIndia

Dave and Lance,
the archived data are in different formats (e.g. chronology indices and published temperature anomalies).
Before averaging your data, you will want to normalise the data to a common format - i.e. z-scores - relative to a common period.
To get a rough approximation of the DJW06 approach, you will also need to stabilise the variance in the mean as the number of series change through time.

Also - an independent data-set for NH TR based temperature estimates are archived here:

Only from 1750 onwards, but a perfectly good data-set to test the robustness of LIA to present trends.

Hope this helps

Jun 30, 2013 at 8:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterRob Wilson

@Rob Wilson
A reference to describing what the technical terms such as z-score might also help? For example you may know about z-scores but nothing at all about recirculating ball and rack and pinion steering and their relative merits so a reference might help when checking what a car technician has told you.

Jun 30, 2013 at 8:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Jun 29, 2013 at 2:18 PM | Harry Dale Huffman

I have read your Venus paper but I did not appreciate that it follows from that there will always be a constant temperature on planet Earth (perhaps subject to orbital changes, plate tectonics altering ocean basins and/or currents, and/or solar insolation).

How do you explain the Holocene Optimum?

Or for that matter, the Minoan, Roman, Medieval warm periods and the LIA,

Jun 30, 2013 at 8:42 AM | Unregistered Commenterrichard verney

While its a welcome change , and one which will receive zero publicity from those so very keen to push the original one. The issues is still that using trees for these type of data is very problematic, there used because there' available' and not much else is, not becasue there any good .
Happens from time to time in science, but usual you take such types of data a massive pile of salt , not hold it up has its the 'virtual word of god ' in the way climate 'science' does which reflects not its validity but its 'usefulness ' to the cause .

Jun 30, 2013 at 9:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

"In what other profession could an enthusiastic amateur (albeit one with the brain the size of a small planet) so comprehensively take to the cleaners the full-time protagonists? I'm not surprised they are not enamoured with him."

In what other profession would a group of professionals call themselves "the Hockey Team" and set out as a group to defend the flawed work of a man who attained his PhD in the year he wrote the Hockey Stick paper. That paper and the 2003 follow on were reviewed by Professor Wegman a distinguished statistician who berated the statistics used in the paper, but presciently observed that the author Mann (aka Harry Flashman) and his band of followers (aka the Bash Street Kids) had gone too far to pull back. He was correct of course, and they won't pull back now, they've too much invested in the deceit.

Jun 30, 2013 at 9:22 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

I heartily thank Steve McIntyre for his curiosity, intellect and perseverance in exposing the dodgy dendro data and malfeasance of the team. Three thoughts spring to mind:

Steve is another example of Ibsen's "the individual is always right" (An Enemy of the People).

Why on earth was so much credibility given to tree ring derived hockeysticks in the first place when they did not correlate with the local station data - Yamal treering proxy temperature reconstructions don’t match local thermometer records

Blog science 2, Peer-reviewed science, nil.
(or since it is Wimbledon fortnight, game set and match to McIntyre).

There have been casualties though, to science in general, and to individuals like Bob Carter, and there still needs to be a complete review and clear out of all tax-payer funded climate science.

Jun 30, 2013 at 10:04 AM | Registered Commenterlapogus

I'm with KnR on this: we've learned a lot about statistics but sweet f a about past temperatures.

Jun 30, 2013 at 10:10 AM | Unregistered Commenterssat

I suppose at long last the IPCC and Mann will be claiming equal shares in the Alfred Nobble Prize.

1. to convince (a person) by fraudulent methods; misrepresent or lie to.
2. to swindle; defraud.

Jun 30, 2013 at 10:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn

Judging from several comments, some people seem to have misunderstood the import of the new Briffa et al paper.

They haven't abandoned the hockey-stick. As Steve M says, they've stepped back only from the "Superstick" which their earlier work claimed. As the blade on the Superstick was ludicrous - apparently implying a greater increase in modern temperatures than actually measured - their new position - with a much more modest blade - is actually a move to a more defensible position.

It's worth reading the paper, or at the very least its conclusions. The final paragraph reads:

We end with the usual caveat that our interpretation of past tree growth changes in terms of varying summer temperatures relies on the assumption of uniformitarianism: that the same character and degree of association we observe now between tree growth and 20th century climate holds true throughout the length of our reconstructions and that no confounding factors have interfered with this relationship if the reconstructions are to be valid, within estimated uncertainty, for the last two millennia.

Or to read between the lines: You interpret our work at your own risk. We can't be blamed for any consequences as we clearly told you it crucially rests on an assumption which we have apparently done nothing to test and which, prima facie, is almost certainly wrong.

Jun 30, 2013 at 10:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterSimon Anthony

Up to now, the sole reference to these new revelations on any "consensus" website appears to be this one at Real Climate (1254) - promptly consigned to the Bore Hole "A place for comments that would otherwise disrupt sensible conversations."

Bish - can the next edition of HSI have a sub-title "The Pool Cue Revelation".

Jun 30, 2013 at 11:37 AM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

I'm with KnR and ssat in that the guest thing is to look at thread original source of why these are any good at measuring temperature.

I do really appreciate Steve taking apart the stats on these but as say says it doesn't progress the science at all. I really got back at looking at the AGW issue during the Jamal saga. The amount of abuse that Steve has had to put up with is unbelievable. As he says all he is doing is diligently auditing the work the same as industry does every day.

Jun 30, 2013 at 12:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

I have often thought that most of the bile thrown at McIntyre is from people who realize he is more intelligent and talented than they are.

This i feel proves it.

Jun 30, 2013 at 12:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterAndy

richard verney
On the subject of constant temperatures ...
Perhaps it depends what you mean by "constant". Extreme events such as ice ages apart — and you mention orbital changes and plate tectonics which may well provide that elusive tipping point — the earth's temperature is pretty constant in my view, seasonal variation apart.
Solar activity ought to be sufficient to account for the still relatively small shift between the cool periods (LIA, dark ages) and the warm periods (Medieval, Roman and 20th century).

On the subject of McIntyre, The Team, and Statistics, I think that this epitomises all that is wrong in climate science.
Steve admits to being a "lukewarmist" so the accusation of 'sceptic' or 'denier' doesn't apply. Am I mistaken or in most branches of science where statistical theory is needed to provide meaningful results would the researchers not have wanted a good statistician on their team to keep them on the right track?
Surely if McIntyre or someone had been consulted from the outset the results might have been less shock! horror! but more readily acceptable, more likely, and (as it now appears to be turning out) more accurate.
It does seem that much — not all — climate science has indeed been being done by a bunch of third-rate chancers out to make a name for themselves, whatever the cost to the rest of us.

Jun 30, 2013 at 2:00 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Jun 30, 2013 at 12:58 PM | Unregistered Commenter Andy; "I have often thought that most of the bile thrown at McIntyre is from people who realize he is more intelligent and talented than they are."

I never throw bile at Steve Mc and he is a lot more intelligent and talented than I am. Those throwing the bile are the cocksure sub-prime scientists in the hockey team, which to their eternal disgrace comprise the CRU.

I note that Rob Wilson has raised his head again. Welcome back Rob, but no more porkies please.

Jun 30, 2013 at 2:39 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

I made a comment on "Real Climate" along the following lines but I doubt it will ever appear:-

So in a nutshell, Briffa 2013 shows no 20th century warming. So it's all been a waste of everyone's time and money then, this CAGW scare.

Jun 30, 2013 at 2:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh.

So in a nutshell, Briffa 2013 shows no 20th century warming. So it's all been a waste of everyone's time and money then, this CAGW scare.
Jun 30, 2013 at 2:57 PM Jimmy Haigh.

According to Professor Murry Salby's unscrambling of ice proxy data, 20th century warming was exceptional neither in magnitude nor in rate of change.

Well worth a view, if you have not seen it before and worth staying to the last part even if Fourier analysis and cross spectral analysis used in the earlier parts are unfamiliar to you.

Jun 30, 2013 at 4:00 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Judging from several comments, not everyone has grasped the significance of the hockey stick reconstructions of historical temperature.

There are direct measurements for the blade period, so the reconstructions have only to demonstrate some approximate consistency during this time. They don't tell you anything that you can't get by more reliable means . What matters is the shaft. In the reconstructions it's ~flat, apparently demonstrating the unprecedented level of current temperatures and the absence of any earlier periods of comparable warmth, at least in the past couple of thousand years.

Briffa's latest paper produces hockey sticks. The blade isn't as pronounced as earlier versions but it's still there, and the shaft is still flat.

I suspect that a reason for the paper's publication is that the authors belatedly realised that their earlier startlingly steep and high blade was so exaggerated (apparently showing reconstructed temperatures higher than measured) that it threatened to undermine the credibility of the TRW methods even among their all too gullible acolytes.

Jun 30, 2013 at 5:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterSimon Anthony

h/t omnologos for this delicous Gavin quote from way back when:

The irony is of course that the demonstration that a regional reconstruction is valid takes effort, and needs to be properly documented. That requires a paper in the technical literature and the only way for Briffa et al to now defend themselves against McIntyre’s accusations is to publish that paper (which one can guarantee will have different results to what McIntyre has thrown together).

Perhaps an epic fail twitter photo comp would trend #GuaranteedByGavin ??

Jun 30, 2013 at 6:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryMN

Jun 30, 2013 at 4:00 PM | Registered Commenter Martin A

Thanks for the link. I did do Fourier Analysis at University 25 years ago but I'm a bit rusty...

Jun 30, 2013 at 6:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh.

Somebody should tell the Royal Navy, or at least tell Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti. He is William Hague's climate envoy and is quoted at the Guardian's website (where else?) today as saying "Climate change poses as grave a threat to the UK's security and economic resilience as terrorism and cyber-attacks ..."

"In his first interview since taking up the post, Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti said climate change was 'one of the greatest risks we face in the 21st century', particularly because it presented a global threat. 'By virtue of our interdependencies around the world, it will affect all of us,' ..."

Climate change poses grave threat to security, says UK envoy

Thanks to this, and the previous, government, the Royal Navy probably has more rear admirals than ships. Therefore it might make sense to recycle the spare ones and use them as "climate envoys." They are just as likely to be right as any other "experts" appointed by the government.

When the global warming scare comes to an end, redundant "climate scientists" could be retrained as rear admirals.

Jun 30, 2013 at 8:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

"In his first interview since taking up the post, Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti said climate change was 'one of the greatest risks we face in the 21st century', particularly because it presented a global threat. 'By virtue of our interdependencies around the world, it will affect all of us,' ..."

Jun 30, 2013 at 8:09 PM Roy

From Wikipedia ...

.After initial training at Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth he held shore postings and attended the University of East Anglia and graduated with a Bachelor of Science...

All catastrophiliac roads lead, eventually, to Norwich - the fiery seventh circle of climatological hell.

Jun 30, 2013 at 8:29 PM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

I suppose, looked at from the right angle, Rob Wilson's D'Arrigo analysis does have a bit of a hockey-stick aspect.

It's a bit limp though - compared to the confident, rampant, upward-thrusting youthful version.

A sort of late middle aged hockey-stick.

Happens to us all, eventually.

Jun 30, 2013 at 8:38 PM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose


In January 2013, Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti was appointed as interim Special Representative for Climate Change.

Recently retired from the Royal Navy, Neil has for the last three years filled the cross government role of UK Climate and Energy Security Envoy.

In this role he has engaged with policy makers in this country and abroad to address the security implications, national and global, that are associated with the impact of a changing climate on secure, sustainable and affordable supplies of food, water and energy.

Prior to this, his military appointments have included Commandant of the Joint Services Command and Staff College, where he was responsible for the military post graduate education of students from 60 nations, and Commander of UK Maritime Forces. At sea he has commanded ships ranging in size from the patrol boat HMS CYGNET to the aircraft carrier HMS INVINCIBLE.

He has a BSc degree in Environmental Sciences.

Jun 30, 2013 at 8:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn

Jun 30, 2013 at 1:34 AM | Green Sand

"Why the hell would Briffa publish this now?"

Whilst only Briffa et al can truly answer, personally I suspect the suits who, some many moons ago, put up the best part of £250k for Briffa and Co to investigate "The(ir) Divergence Problem", might have started questioning the gestation period of their investment?

I remember seeing a budget table for Jones (can't remember where) in which 'The Divergence Problem' appeared at the top of the list. AFAIR it was due to report in 2012.

I wonder how much effort went into ensuring the report didn't appear in time for AR5.

Jun 30, 2013 at 8:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

"I suppose, looked at from the right angle, Rob Wilson's D'Arrigo analysis does have a bit of a hockey-stick aspect"

Not sure about a hockey stick but maybe a ripple in a mill pond.

Jun 30, 2013 at 8:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn

I wonder what would be revealed if the green line were behind the red line in the graph in the update.

Jun 30, 2013 at 8:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

If you refer back to the original D'Arrigo paper, the authors note in the abstract that the extent of the MWP is underestimated by paleo methods. This is not directly germane to Rob's point but for the wider debate it's useful to be aware of it.

Jun 30, 2013 at 9:08 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>