Skip to comments.The Yamal deception ( Dataused for the Global Warming Hoax
Posted on 05/10/2012 11:02:42 AM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach
As many readers are probably aware, there has been an important new posting at Climate Audit about the Yamal affair. This posting is an attempt to set out the whole story of Yamal. It reworks an article I did in 2009 and incorporates new developments since that time. I hope readers find it useful. I have also prepared a Kindle version of the post, for which there is a small charge - click here:
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The story of Michael Mann's Hockey Stick reconstruction, its statistical bias and the influence of the bristlecone pines is well known. Steve McIntyre's research into the other reconstructions of the temperatures of the last millennium has received less publicity, however. The story of the Yamal chronology may change that.
The bristlecone pines that created the shape of the Hockey Stick graph are used in nearly every millennial temperature reconstruction around today, but there are also a handful of other tree ring series that are nearly as common and just as influential on the results. Back at the start of McIntyre's research into the area of paleoclimate, one of the most significant of these was called Polar Urals, a chronology first published by Keith Briffa of the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia. At the time, it was used in pretty much every temperature reconstruction around. In his paper, Briffa made the startling claim that the coldest year of the millennium was AD 1032, a statement that, if true, would have completely overturned the idea of the Medieval Warm Period. It is not hard to see why paleoclimatologists found the series so alluring.
Yamal saves the day
Some of McIntyre's research into Polar Urals deserves a story in its own right, but it is one that will have to wait for another day. We can pick up the narrative again in 2005, when McIntyre discovered that an update to the Polar Urals series had been collected in 1999. Through a contact he was able to obtain a copy of the revised series. Remarkably, in the update the eleventh century appeared to be much warmer than in the original - in fact it was higher even than the twentieth century. This must have been a severe blow to paleoclimatologists, a supposition that is borne out by what happened next, or rather what didn't: the update to the Polar Urals was not published, it was not archived and it was almost never seen again.
With Polar Urals now unusable, paleclimatologists had a pressing need for a hockey stick shaped replacement and a solution appeared in the nick of time in the shape of a series from the nearby location of Yamal.
The Yamal data had been collected by a pair of Russian scientists, Hantemirov and Shiyatov, and was published in 2002. In their version of the data, Yamal had little by way of a twentieth century trend. Strangely though, Briffa's version, which had made it into print before even the Russians', was somewhat different. While it was very similar to the Russians' version for most of the length of the record, Briffa's verison had a sharp uptick at the end of the twentieth century -- another hockey stick, made almost to order to meet the requirements of the paleoclimate community. Certainly, after its first appearance in Briffa's 2000 paper in Quaternary Science Reviews, this version of Yamal was seized upon by climatologists, appearing again and again in temperature reconstructions; it became virtually ubiquitous in the field: apart from Briffa 2000, it also contributed to the reconstructions in Mann and Jones 2003, Jones and Mann 2004, Moberg et al 2005, D'Arrigo et al 2006, Osborn and Briffa 2006 and Hegerl et al 2007, among others.
The data is not free
Much more including Graphs at the Web site.
What’s even worse is were paying these phoney elitist climate scammers to doctor the data so they can please the enablers and keep the gravy train rolling in so the likes of gore and his minions and the socialist democrat party can give us the energy shaft and clean up financially.
A strange lack of twentieth century data
When McIntyre started to look at the numbers it was clear that there were going to be the usual problems with a lack of metadata, but there was more than just this. In typical climate science fashion, just scratching at the surface of the Briffa archive raised as many questions as it answered. Why did Briffa only have half the number of cores covering the Medieval Warm Period that the Russian had reported? And why were there so few cores in Briffa's twentieth century? By 1988 there were only 12 cores used, an amazingly small number in what should have been the part of the record when it was easiest to obtain data. By 1990 the count was only ten, dropping still further to just five in 1995. Without an explanation of how the selection of this sample of the available data had been performed, the suspicion of `cherrypicking' would linger over the study, particularly since the sharp twentieth century uptick in the series was almost entirely due to a single tree (It is true to say, however, that Hantemirov also had very few cores in the equivalent period, so it is possible that this selection had been due to the Russian and not Briffa).
The lack of twentieth century data was still more remarkable when the Yamal chronology was compared to the Polar Urals series, to which it was now apparently preferred. The ten or twelve cores used in Yamal was around half the number available at Polar Urals, which should presumably therefore have been considered the more reliable. Why then had climatologists almost all preferred to use Yamal? Could it be because it had a hockey stick shape?
The Khatdyta River experiment
But there was another mystery in Briffa's paper too. As we have seen, Briffa had been in the business of creating regional chronologies, for example supplementing Taimyr with data from other locations such as Avam and Balschaya Kamenka. Similar regional chronologies had been created for Fennoscandia and allegedly for Yamal. But the Yamal data appeared to represent only the original Hantemirov and Shiyatov data with no supplementation with other sites in the area at all. Why had Briffa left Yamal on its own, when the core count was so low? Suitable data was certainly available - Schweingruber had collected samples at a site called Khadyta River, close to Yamal, and with 34 cores recorded it represented a much more reliable basis for reconstructing temperatures.
McIntyre decided to perform a sensitivity test on Briffa's database, replacing the 12 cores that were behind the twentieth century uptick in the Yamal series with the 34 from Khadtya River. The revised chronology was simply staggering. The sharp uptick in the series at the end of the twentieth century had vanished, leaving a twentieth century apparently without a significant trend. The blade of the Yamal hockey stick, used in so many of those temperature reconstructions that the IPCC said validated Michael Mann's work, was gone.
Sound and fury
The reaction to McIntyre's blog posts on Yamal was almost instantaneous. The RealClimate blog, run by prominent climate scientists in an effort to protect the IPCC orthodoxy, ridiculed McIntyre's work:
McIntyre has based his critique on a test conducted by randomly adding in one set of data from another location in Yamal that he found on the internet. People have written theses about how to construct tree ring chronologies in order to avoid end-member effects and preserve as much of the climate signal as possible. Curiously no-one has ever suggested simply grabbing one set of data, deleting the trees you have a political objection to and replacing them with another set that you found lying around on the web.
A few weeks later, Briffa and some of his colleagues joined in, writing a long response to McIntyre. Interestingly, this took a slightly different line to their colleagues at RealClimate, acknowledging that Khadtya River met the criteria for inclusion in the the Yamal chronology, but claiming somewhat implausibly that they had not considered it at the time.
Of course, there have always been bad actors in these fields. But the seeming nonchalance with which different professions view the absence of ethics, or responsibility for mistakes of a serious nature, is truly frightening. The liberal mantra of "the ends justify the means" seems to be accepted all too easily. And apparently not a drop of shame or embarrasment is attached to these actions.
You can tell you are over the Target when the FLACK gets heavy!
Climategate and the Yamal-Urals chronology
Just weeks later, the attention of the Climate blogosphere was well and truly diverted by the Climategate disclosures, and the arguments over the Yamal core count was forgotten in the media storm that followed. However, there were many emails in the Climategate zip file that directly pertained to the Yamal story. The message that immediately attracted attention was one that demonstrated that CRU had funded Hantemirov and Shiyatov to collect the Yamal data in the first place, something that did raise questions over Briffa's claim that the data was not theirs to give to McIntyre. However, at the time most attention was focused on Shiyatov's request that the funds be sent to his private bank account so as to avoid problems with the Russian tax authorities.
However, there was another email that was much more important, although it was barely noticed by anyone apart from McIntyre. The email in question, number 1146252894, was from Briffa to a scientist at the Met Office and dated back to 2006.
We have three "groups" of trees:
"SCAND" (which includes the Tornetrask and Finland multi-millennial chronologies, but also some shorter chronologies from the same region). These trees fall mainly within the 3 boxes centred at:
"URALS" (which includes the Yamal and Polar Urals long chronologies, plus other shorter ones). These fall mainly within these 3 boxes:
62.5E, 62.5N (note this is the only one not at 67.5N)
"TAIMYR" (which includes the Taimyr long chronology, plus other shorter ones). These fall mainly within these 4 boxes:
There could be little doubt that these were the regional chronologies that had been prepared for the Royal Society paper. Crucially then, this email showed that Briffa and his colleagues had prepared a regional chronology that incorporated Yamal and the Polar Urals - a much wider area than the Yamal-only chronology that had appeared in the final paper.
Briffa's decision to drop the URALS regional chronology (incorporating Yamal and sites in the Polar Urals) in favour of a Yamal-only chronology with only a handful of trees in its modern section was starting to look indefensible. It was also hard to square the existence of the URALS chronology with Briffa's rebuttal of McIntyre's earlier blog post. When Briffa had said his revised Yamal chronology incorporated "all the data", he had actually only incorporated a handful of sites in the Yamal area, without mentioning that he had prepared the much broader-based URALS chronology. The deception in Briffa's response was now clear, at least to McIntyre.
The only way to prove that all this mattered, however, was to find out what the URALS chronology looked like. If it lacked the hockey stick shape, as McIntyre suspected, Briffa would be completely undone. McIntyre duly submitted a freedom of information request for the chronology itself and a list of the sites used. As he expected, this was refused, and before long the long and tedious appeals process was set in motion.
The Climategate inquiries
Yet more wood heaped upon the fire.
The Commissioner calls
In April 2012, the tide began to shift against Briffa. The UK's Information Commissioner wrote to UEA with some bad news - although a decision on the release of the URALS chronology had not been reached, the commissioner advised the university that there could be no good reason not to disclose the list of sites used and accordingly he intended to rule against them on this issue. Briffa's hand was finally going to be forced.
The list of 17 sites that was finally sent to McIntyre represented complete vindication. The presence of Yamal and Polar Urals had already been obvious from the Climategate emails, but the list showed that Briffa had also incorporated the Polar Urals update (which, as we saw above, did not have a hockey stick shape, and which Briffa claimed he had not looked at since 1995) and the Khadtya River site, McIntyre's use of which the RealClimate authors had ridiculed.
Although the chronology itself was not yet available, the list of sites was sufficient for McIntyre to calculate the numbers himself, and the results were breathtaking. Firstly, the URALS regional chronology had vastly more data behind it than the Yamal-only figures presented in Briffa's paper
But what was worse, the regional chronology did not have a hockey stick shape - the twentieth century uptick that Briffa had got from the handful of trees in the Yamal-only series had completely disappeared.
Direct comparison of the chronology that Briffa chose to publish against the full chronology that he withheld makes the point clear:
It seems clear then that the URALS chronology Briffa prepared to go alongside the others he put together for the 2008 paper gave a message that did not comply with the message that he wanted to convey - one of unprecedented warmth at the end of the twentieth century. In essence the URALS regional chronology was suffering from the divergence problem - the widely noted failure of some tree ring series to pick up the recent warming seen in instrumental temperature records, which led to the infamous 'hide the decline' episode.
Remarkably, however, Briffa did allude to the divergence problem in his paper:
These [regional chronologies] show no evidence of a recent breakdown in [the association between tree growth and temperature] as has been found at other high-latitude Northern Hemisphere locations.
The reason for dropping the URALS chronology looks abundantly clear. It would not have supported this message.
See the website for graphical data.
The “hide the decline” and the “Hocky Stick” were NOT mistakes.
I'm not holding my breath.
Mann considers himself a modern day Joan of Arc.
Then I guess he wouldn't mind emulating her demise.
Ironically it would be local rather than global warming.
But if we put the charcoal in the dirt, his final act would be one of carbon sequestration.
But, bending almost doubled over backward to give them the benefit of the doubt, even if it WAS a mistake, it was a very serious mistake which should have been screamingly obvious to them a long time ago; and they have failed to correct the record or take responsibility.
So I stand by my ethical point - even if it initially WAS a mistake, the refusal to take responsibility for it and actively try to correct the mistake is just as bad as deliberate deception. A search for the truth, no matter where that search leads, is the cornerstone of the practice of science. These would have been the actions of a few bad actors, at most, 50 years ago. Now, most of the scientific community seems to have no ethical problem with it.
They are no better than the drive-by media or the Wall Street manipulators ...