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Discussion > Western Antarctic Ice Sheet is warming nearly twice as fast as previously thought

looking back over BH, I found this intriguing thread from 2009
http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2009/1/29/did-steig-just-accuse-mann-of-fraud.html

and then an intriguing comment by BBD about Steig gaming the peer review system:


Comment On: Steig snippets
Journal Entry Comment by BBD on Feb 8, 2011 at 11:40 AM
I did wonder at the time just who Reviewer A was - but I didn't imagine that the editor would have permitted Steig to do this. It is an absolute disgrace. Compounded by Steig's going on to push O'Donnell et al. into modifying their methodology then criticising them for adopting his sug ...

and then one of Josh's finest:
http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2011/2/20/josh-79.html

Dec 27, 2012 at 11:28 AM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

It *is* worse than we thought. Even the right wing Daily Wail is going with the piece.

West Antarctic warming TWICE as fast as previously thought: Study raises new alarm over rise in sea levels

Link to Daily Wail


Luckily the Wail readership is having none of it and strikes back in the comments. The 3 best-rated comments are 'somewhat sceptical' to say the least-

1. Well, there's only one thing to do. We must raise everyone's taxes immediately!
- someone, somewhere, United States, 24/12/2012 12:01
2. Hmmm. Filled in their own temperatures with their own model? Sounds like an outcome before a hypothesis. More junk science from the elite.
- irate_irishman, harlem, 24/12/2012 12:15

3. They admit data is missing because of power cuts. Instead of analysing real temperature data they "corrected" the past temperature measurements and "used corrected data from a computer atmospheric model and a numerical analysis method to fill in the missing observations"! Hence the predictions are exactly those of the computer model - as expected - which is used worldwide to promote the pseudo science of global warming. They have no real data to base their prediction on. This is akin to a mistake committed by one of my students when he filled in the missing points in a time series signal in order to perform a Fast Fourier Transform on it. It just won't wash! Wrong, totally wrong.
- Simon, Bath, United Kingdom, 24/12/2012 11:48

Dec 27, 2012 at 11:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterFarleyR

Mike, right or wrong? I'm not sure there is a clean answer to that. There is a dataset with holes in it and someone thinks he has a way to fill the gaps. He does some work and after a lot of effort produces a result and gets it published. It is an interesting result and, whether right or wrong (the jornal doesn't know, and neither do the author or reviewers) gets some publicity. Are you saying that somewhere along the line that should have been stopped? Should researchers be allowed to research only what the public can understand?

Dec 27, 2012 at 12:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

BB - if you asked someone to test some software code and they came back and told you "We tested the software. However we accidentally deleted part of the test suite before completing the tests. But don't worry, we have worked out what the results would have been. We did this by extrapolating from the test results we do have" I doubt you would accept their results as valid.

This is roughly what we see having been done here. The result, so far as most posters here can see, is a work of fiction. Yet it is now being presented in the MSM as scientifically established reality, with no mention that the crucial data was made up.

Dec 27, 2012 at 1:40 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

The paper is bad enough, but the BBC article is so misleading… I have complained to the BBC about the presentation…

See complaint below:

The article references a paper detailing how a temperature record from a single weather station in West Antarctica was reconstructed and then showed a significantly higher rate of warming than in the rest of the continent. This is not a critique of that paper which has its own flaws.

This is a complaint about the map at the top right of the article which has the following caption: “The data from Byrd Station shows rapid warming on the west Antarctic ice sheet”

The map is in fact a contour map showing the correlation coefficient between the temperature record at Byrd and the other stations in Antarctica, by definition, the value of the correlation coefficient at the Byrd station will be 1. Every other station in Antarctica has a correlation coefficient of 0.3 or less… this is a rather moderate level of correlation and suggests that rebuilding the temperature record based on the other weather stations will be unreliable.

The fact that there is a massive red bulls eye at the Byrd station is a mathematical certainty, the size of the bullseye is a function of the spacing between the weather stations and the mapping software. The big red bulls eye is wholly unrelated to the warming derived from this reconstruction. To use this map and to then label it with the caption is to deliberately mislead, and shows the bias in reporting of issues relating to AGW.

Dec 27, 2012 at 3:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterStevieB

Martin, "...with no mention that the crucial data was made up." - really? It says:

"Previously scientists were unable to draw any conclusions from the Byrd data as the records were incomplete.
The new work used a computer model of the atmosphere and a numerical analysis method to fill in the missing observations."

Dec 27, 2012 at 3:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

BB -You are right that the BBC report says that. I imagine that the BBC reporter themself saw nothing wrong with such a statement and so did not think it would lead readers to form a false impression of the significance of the work. I imagine that readers without a scientific background might not have grasped the significance of the statement.

I'd have been happier if the beeb had said something like "they made up values where the observational data that was needed was missing. Making up values is normally regarded as dubious practice in scientific work".

Dec 27, 2012 at 5:55 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

No, BB, what I'm saying is what I've said a dozen times before, especially with regard to polar stations:- When you have no data, you have no data. FULL STOP !
Stop making things up and trying to pass them of as facts. In the real world it's usually called lying.

Dec 27, 2012 at 6:09 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

BB - let's you and other posters call it a day - OK? You've made it clear that you see nothing wrong as having taken place, since the authors explained what they did.

Other posters have made it pretty clear why they find making up data and then drawing conclusions based on the made-up data as outrageous.

I think any further discussion is just going around the same 2-foot radius circle.

Dec 27, 2012 at 7:20 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Martin A

you should add that the authorities in the field, such as Steig, jumping on this made-up data and claiming it as a vindication of their own, totally demolished paper, is equally outrageous.

Dec 27, 2012 at 7:36 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

if you look at this post from Jeff Id, it makes you wonder whether the paper under discussion might be one of those specifically submitted after the review stage to reinforce the "consensus" view in the face of dissent:

http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2012/12/14/ipcc-full-speed-ahead/

Dec 27, 2012 at 8:02 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

Back to the Daily Wail link I posted at 11:48 - somewhat hilariously all the lowest rated comments on the alarmist article are from our old friend and resident troll 'ZedsDeadsBeds'. It's not going so well for him/her over there either. LOL.

Dec 27, 2012 at 8:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterFarleyR

Amazingly the BBC have replied and changed the caption on their report...

Dear Mr Brown

Thanks for your email about the Byrd Station story. We take your point that the map is one of correlation, not absolute temperature, and that the inference to be made from it is not necessarily the same as a temperature map with the same appearance. Accordingly, we have rewritten the caption to the image to stress that it is a correlation being depicted. However, the very point of the story is that the warming is unusually high in that region of the West Antarctica Ice Sheet - so an appropriately contoured absolute temperature map would not necessarily look terribly different. The inclusion of the graphic and the original caption were not a sign of, as you suggest "bias in reporting of issues relating to AGW" but rather to honestly depict the situation as outlined in the research, which is that Byrd Station's reconstructed record suggests an anomalously high warming rate.

With kind regards
the Science and Environment team

Dec 27, 2012 at 9:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterStevieB

However, I still think the presentation is disingenuous... so I wrote back...


Dear Science and Environment Team,

I appreciate that you have changed the caption, but you infer something from the map which is not evident from it.... the map is of correlation and doesn't tell you if the other regions are warming more or cooling or anything at all.

My point remains that publishing this map at the top of this story is disingenuous. It would have been fine to publish figure 2 from the paper (attached) that showed the reconstructed temperature record, the adjustments made to it and the parts of it which were filled in with other data. Then we could all have looked at it and deduced how reliable this record is. The biggest concern is that the 1957 to 1970 records were collected using a completely different system from the one used from 1980 onwards... All the red dots are extrapolated from information from many hundred miles away which apparently does not show the same warming trend. I fear the paper will not stand the test of time and thorough evaluation.

The proper edit to the story would be to replace the pretty map with the data series..

I know its very pretty and catches the eye and the red not bubble is very disturbing, but you might want to reassure your readers that the mean summer temperature is still never above 13ºC in this new temperature record. and perhaps we are little way off seeing a melting of the West Antarctic Ice Shelf.

Dec 27, 2012 at 9:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterStevieB

An *honest* headline might read as "Computer-modeled temperature adjustments show the WA ice sheet to be warming etc.....". As a headline it's accurate, it's truthful, it doesn't engender alarmism (generally) and lets the reader know what to expect of the article content. Discussion could then be directed at the content rather than the presentation - as it should be. What, precisely, is wrong with the truth?

Dec 27, 2012 at 10:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave_G

Well done StevieB. The truth is out there..

Dec 27, 2012 at 11:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterFarleyR

Hopefully not off topic.

How about about headlime which says:-
"Computer model that predicted Barbeque Summer says that the West Antartic Is melting faster than ever"

Dec 27, 2012 at 11:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

I hope someone does a qualitative study on such Zapper products to figure out what they actually work or not

Feb 26, 2015 at 1:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterHulda

Hi BB welcome back. You make a good point about people rejecting paper because it challenges their ideas, and if that was true, it would indeed be lamentable. However, you don't have to read the paper if the abstract challenges your common sense, or indeed your sense of scholarship. Interpolating means you're making things up - it may have some scientific hocus locus around it but it's still making things up. So people blessed with a modicum of commons sense will note that when activist scientists "interpolate" it mostly results in a reversal of what the observations are saying, or an increase in disaster flow on the current observations

What is, to me, more disturbing isn't that the paper is being rubbished without being read it's that it will pass into being lauded without being read and become part of the lexicon of climate scientists and environmental activists without challenge.

I, and I think most people would agree with me, believe that in days gone by scientist used make hypotheses and do experiments and then publish them in the learned literature so others could find their mistakes and by doing so move the science forward. In climate science - at least the politicised version of it - papers are put into the learned literature purely for citation purposes and are taken by the climate science community as being "true" provided they support the political leanings of the consensus.

The scientists in this case made up the numbers and the outcome just happened to coincide with the science that supports their own political agenda. You may be right to think we're being harsh on the scientists involved, but a lot of the people on this blog can recognise a soft science masquerading as a science and take that into account when we hear the soundbites.

Feb 26, 2015 at 4:27 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Hi BB welcome back.

Geronimo, look at the date of BB's post, its from 2012, a spammer Hula has posted to the thread and brought it to the top of the pile.

Feb 26, 2015 at 5:51 PM | Registered CommenterBreath of Fresh Air