Saturday, November 21, 2009

Another CRU Email...

The current climate models employed by the warmenist scientists use a temperature series that is based largely on tree ring data as a proxy for temperature.  Having grown up on a tree nursery, I was skeptical of the basic assumption that tree ring width in an individual tree will vary primarily because of ambient temperature.  I have personally observed much variance in the growth rate of trees based on other factors, like rainfall, nutrients in the ground, predation by animals, etc.  Certainly temperature has some effect on tree growth rate, but other factors also do.

So when I read this email (1256760240.txt) in the collection hacked from CRU, I was most interested.  Again, I've bolded and footnoted the sections I found interesting:
From: Phil Jones To:
Subject: FW: Yamal and paleoclimatology
Date: Wed Oct 28 16:04:00 2009

       There is a lot more there on CA now. I would be very wary about responding to this person now having seen  what McIntyre has put up. You and Tim talked about Yamal. Why have the bristlecones come in now.
    This is what happens - they just keep moving the goalposts.
    Maybe get Tim to redo OB2006 without a few more series.

     X-Authentication-Warning: defang set sender to
     using -f
     Subject: FW: Yamal and paleoclimatology
     Date: Wed, 28 Oct 2009 15:39:48 -0000
     Thread-Topic: Yamal and paleoclimatology
     Thread-Index: AcpDQ2sqWC+z2djuSqC1Ax4HdHoH1wUn1Ocw
     From: "Keiller, Donald"
     X-ARU-sender-host: (CAMEXCH.ANGLIA.LOCAL) []:25427
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     X-CanItPRO-Stream: UEA:f028 (inherits from UEA:default,base:default)
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     X-Scanned-By: CanIt (www . roaringpenguin . com) on
     Dear Professor Briffa, I am pleased to hear that you appear to have recovered from your recent illness sufficiently to post a response to the controversy surrounding the use of the Yamal chronology;
     and the chronology itself;
     Unfortunately I find your explanations lacking in scientific rigour and I am more inclined to believe the analysis of McIntyre1
     Can I have a straightforward answer to the following questions
     1) Are the reconstructions sensitive to the removal of either the Yamal data and Strip pine bristlecones, either when present singly or in combination?
     2) Why these series, when incorporated with white noise as a background, can still produce a Hockey-Stick shaped graph if they have, as you suggest, a low individual weighting?
     And once you have done this, please do me the courtesy of answering my initial email.
     Dr. D.R. Keiller
     -----Original Message-----
     From: Keiller, Donald
     Sent: 02 October 2009 10:34
     To: ''
     Cc: ''
     Subject: Yamal and paleoclimatology
     Dear Professor Briffa, my apologies for contacting you directly, particularly since I hear that you are unwell.
     However the recent release of tree ring data by CRU has prompted much discussion and indeed disquiet about the methodology and conclusions of a number of key papers by you and co-workers.
     As an environmental plant physiologist, I have followed the long debate starting with Mann et al (1998) and through to Kaufman et al (2009).
     As time has progressed I have found myself more concerned with the whole scientific basis of dendroclimatology2. In particular;
     1) The appropriateness of the statistical analyses employed
     2) The reliance on the same small datasets in these multiple studies
     3) The concept of "teleconnection" by which certain trees respond to the
     "Global Temperature Field", rather than local climate
     4) The assumption that tree ring width and density are related to temperature in a linear manner.
     Whilst I would not describe myself as an expert statistician, I do use inferential statistics routinely for both research and teaching and find difficulty in understanding the statistical rationale in these papers3.
     As a plant physiologist I can say without hesitation that points 3 and 4 do not agree with the accepted science.
     There is a saying that "extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof".
     Given the scientific, political and economic importance of these papers, further detailed explanation is urgently required.
     Yours sincerely,
     Dr. Don Keiller.

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   Prof. Phil Jones
   Climatic Research Unit        Telephone +44 (0) 1603 592090
   School of Environmental Sciences    Fax +44 (0) 1603 507784
   University of East Anglia
   Norwich                          Email
   NR4 7TJ


One thing that's clear from reading a hundred or so of these emails: the warmenist scientists are quite obsessed with, and defensive about, the Climate Audit web site by Steve McIntyre.  I've long linked to McIntyre's site as one of the best global warming skeptical sites I'd found.  I consider now that my choice has been completely validated!

I don't know anything about the Dr. Donald Keiller who wrote two of the emails in this thread, other than that I was able to confirm (via Google) that Dr. Keiller indeed exists, and works in the field implied in his emails.

My comments:

1. Dr. Keiller read of the controversy regarding the tree ring data being used in the temperature series on McIntyre's Climate Audit site.  He wrote to the authors for clarification.  They never responded, though they did post comments to the articles on Climate Audit.  Dr. Keiller finds McIntyre (a skeptic) more credible.

2. But more interestingly to me, Dr. Keiller questions the entire basis of dendroclimatology (using tree rings to infer anything about the climate).  The Wikipedia article I linked to explains the questions pretty clearly.  This is a big problem for the warmenists, as a major element of their models is the temperature series, which is in turn partly compised of dendroclimatology data.

3. Dr. Keiller is one of many scientists who have called BS on the warmenists creative use of statistics.  It's too bad that this hijacked email contained no more specifics.

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