Climate science at work #1 – Jones et al 1985-86 papers in review

I was stunned to hear Professor Jones say this at the UK House of Commons Inquiry.

The most startling observation came when he was asked how often scientists reviewing his papers for probity before publication asked to see details of his raw data, methodology and computer codes. “They’ve never asked,” he said.”

The Jones et al 1985-86 hemispheric compilations which birthed “IPCC global warming” as we now know it, were both published in the American Meteorological Society (AMS) – Journal of Applied Meteorology. Online versions Northern Hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere.

To get a feel for how the Jones et al papers fared in review I have done a quick check of the page length and time spent in review for all papers in the two issues of Journal of Applied Meteorology containing the Jones et al papers.

Volume 25, Issue 2 (February 1986) for the Northern Hemisphere.
Volume 25, Issue 9 (September 1986) for the Southern Hemisphere.

Graphing the results we see that these large and complex papers did indeed move rapidly through the review process compared to most other papers in those journal issues. The “N” and “S” on the graphs marks the Jones et al papers. The second graph plots the Jones papers with some pages added assuming that the reviewers would have had to have read the main text sections (an additional 15-18 pages) of the accompanying US Dept. of Energy TR022 and TR027 documentation books. I have not added pages for the two Appendices which totaled hundreds of pages. I have not allowed for the reviewers to have made some checks of digital data – if that work is included than the Jones et al passage through review is even more lightning fast on a weeks per page basis.
Next I will look at issues in the papers that reviewers could have questioned the Jones et al authors about – had they done their job.
We must also remember that no “comments” on these papers were published in the AMS journals.

Text of press article
Phil Jones survives MPs’ grilling over climate emails

Commons committee tiptoed round embattled scientist and sidestepped crucial questions

Parliamentary climate emails inquiry – as it happened

Gaunt and nervous, but with his ever-smiling University of East Anglia vice-chancellor beside him, Phil Jones survived his grilling by MPs – probably profoundly grateful that he did not have to face questioning from an earlier witness, the equally gaunt but far from nervous climate sceptic, Lord Lawson.

Jones did his best to persuade the Commons science and technology committee that all was well in the house of climate science. If they didn’t quite believe him, they didn’t have the heart to press the point. The man has had three months of hell, after all.

Jones’s general defence was that anything people didn’t like – the strong-arm tactics to silence critics, the cold-shouldering of freedom of information requests, the economy with data sharing – were all “standard practice” among climate scientists. “Maybe it should be, but it’s not.”

And he seemed to be right. The most startling observation came when he was asked how often scientists reviewing his papers for probity before publication asked to see details of his raw data, methodology and computer codes. “They’ve never asked,” he said.

He gave a little ground, and it was the only time the smile left the face of the vice-chancellor, Edward Acton: “I’ve written some awful emails,” Jones admitted. Nobody asked if, as claimed by British climate sceptic Doug Keenan, he had for two decades suppressed evidence of the unreliability of key temperature data from China.

But for the first time he did concede publicly that when he tried to repeat the 1990 study in 2008, he came up with radically different findings. Or, as he put it, “a slightly different conclusion”. Fully 40% of warming there in the past 60 years was due to urban influences. “It’s something we need to consider,” he said.

Nor did the MPs probe how conflicts of interest have become routine in Jones’s world of analysing and reconstructing past temperatures. How, as the emails reveal, Jones found himself intemperately reviewing papers that sought to criticise his own work. And then, should the papers somehow get into print, judging what place they should have in the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), where he and his fellow emails held senior positions.

But the committee will be hard pressed to ignore the issue after the intervention of no less a body than the Institute of Physics. In 13 coruscating paragraphs of written evidence to MPs, it spoke of “prima facie evidence of determined and coordinated refusals to comply with honourable scientific traditions and freedom of information law”, “manipulation of the publication and peer review system”, and “intolerance to challenge … which is vital to the integrity of the scientific process.” Ouch.

Jones’s most tenacious adversaries were largely absent from the hearings, however. No sign of Canadian rottweiler mathematician Steve McIntyre, the arch-villain of dozens of the Climatic Research Unit-crew’s emails. Or of Keenan, who accused Jones of fraud in a peer-reviewed journal.

And the MPs let Jones have the last word. “I don’t think there is anything [in the emails] that supports the view I’ve been trying to pervert the peer-review process in any way.” With that, he was gone.

Fred Pearce is environment consultant for New Scientist

19 thoughts on “Climate science at work #1 – Jones et al 1985-86 papers in review”

  1. I sat up and watched it live and I too was stunned to find out that the data and methodology has never been checked by anyone, even the peer reviewers.

    I have checked three stations so far and there appears to be lots of value added to the data.

  2. Having known Edward Acton long ago in Salisbury (now Harare), York, and Cambridge, and Warwick Hughes more recently as a near neighbour in Canberra North, there was some piquancy in viewing the House of Commons Inquiry into the “Climategate” (or CRUTape letters), where both are star performers. The transcript is also available now from the HoC. Sadly, Jones has to be convicted as charged. Edward only became VC of UEA in September last year, otherwise he too should have been court martialled and shot (to be fair he did his best as the Prisoner’s Friend, as in Breaker Morant and other army trials).

  3. I knew it was going to be a whitewash when none of Jone’s critics were invited to testify. I have not been proved wrong. The UK House of Commons is an embarrassment.

  4. Many of Stringer’s questions of Jones were well put and incisive, but he didn’t push things, possibly because of the time factor. On a couple of occasions Jones fried himself and made his science look anything but scientific, but the questioners gave him easy ways out. Peer review has been shown up for what many people have guessed for a long time – a complete sham based on behind-the-scenes boys’ club whisperings run by bullies.

  5. Speaking of papers that should not have gotten through peer review, but did, here is a list I compiled recently with comments on the errors the papers contain:

    Origin of errors in the IPCC science:

    1. Fixed relative humidity.

    Paper: Manabe, Syukuro and Richard T. Wetherald, 1967. Thermal Equilibrium of the Atmosphere with a Given Distribution of Relative Humidity. Journal of Atmospheric Science 24, 241-259.

    Conclusion: For fixed relative humidity, the equilibrium temperature is almost twice as sensitive as for fixed absolute humidity. A 1.2 C warming for a doubling of CO2 increases to a 2.3 C warming.

    Error: Not supported by radiosonde observations of relative humidity (Paltridge, G., Arking, A. and Pook, M. 2009. Trends in middle- and upper-level tropospheric humidity from NCEP reanalysis data. Theoretical and Applied Climatology. 10.) They conclude “negative trends in q as found in the NCEP data would imply that long-term water vapor feedback is negative – that it would reduce rather than amplify the response of the climate system to external forcing such as that from increasing atmospheric CO2.”

    Thus, the basic guess by Manabe and Wetherald has been falsified.

    2. A 4 W/m2 forcing for a doubling of CO2.

    Paper: Ramanathan, V., M. S. Lian and R. D. Cess, 1979: Increased Atmospheric CO2: Zonal and Seasonal Estimates of the Effect on the Radiation Energy Balance and Surface Temperature. J. Geophys. Res. Atmospheres, 84: 4949-4958.

    Conclusion: A doubling of CO2 will create a radiative forcing at the top of the atmosphere of about 4 W/m2.

    Error: The result is based upon an erroneous thought experiment in which the amount of carbon dioxide is instantaneously doubled with atmospheric temperatures remaining constant. Valid thought experiments must obey all the laws of physics; otherwise, you enter the realm of fantasy as does this thought experiment. What they are really calculating is the maximum potential radiative forcing and this number will never appear in reality. They calculate changes in the absorption bands of the CO2 and ignore any changes in the continuum portion of the spectrum. Consequently they overestimate the radiative forcing by a factor of 3 to 4.

    3. An increase in thermal infrared radiation will warm the oceans just like an increase in solar radiation.

    Paper: Hansen, J., G. Russell, A. Lacis, I. Fung, D Rind, and P. Stone, 1985: Climate response times: Dependence on climate sensitivity and ocean mixing. Science, 229, 857-859, doi:10.1126/science.229.4716.857.

    Error: The paper ignores the optical properties of water. Solar irradiance penetrates hundreds of meters into the ocean whereas the 15 micron thermal radiation from CO2 has almost no penetrating ability at all and will be absorbed in the upper 15 microns of the water where is will then be quickly re-emitted at all wavelengths. The paper concludes that the thermal infrared will warm the oceans.

    The recently started Argo system is the first reliable observations we have that measure changes in ocean heat content. Rather an increasing heat content as the 1985 paper of Hansen predicts, the heat content for 2003-2008 has decreased (Loehle, C., 2009. Cooling of the global ocean since 2003. Energy & Environment 20(1&2): 99-102.). According the Hansen paper, such a cooling trend should never occur.

    The erroneous model of ocean warming is incorporated in all the GCMs. See Douglass, D. H. and R. S. Knox, 2009. Ocean heat content and Earth’s radiation imbalance. Physics Letters A, 373, 296-3300, for how earlier changes in ocean heat content are inconsistent with GCMs.

    Because of the low penetrating ability of thermal infrared radiation into wet surfaces, it will not cause a bulk heating of any wet surface such as oceans, lakes, ice, snow, clouds, or vegetation, which includes nearly all of the Earth’s surface.

    4. The urban heat island (UHI) is negligible.

    Paper: Jones P.D., Groisman P. Y., Coughlan, M., Plummer N., Wang W.-C., Karl T. R., 1990. Assessment of urbanization effects in time series of surface air temperature over land. Nature, 347, 169–172.

    Error: The paper essentially claims that the UHI has a negligible effect on long-term temperature trends using so-call rural and urban sites in China.

    Numerous papers have debunked this paper. For example, Zhao Z., Ding Y., Luo Y., and Wang S., 2005. Recent Studies on Attributions of Climate Change in China, Acta Meteorologica Sinica, Vol 19, 389-400 show the Chinese data as reported by Jones has a warming of 1.16 C from 1979 to 2005 whereas the corresponding MSU warming is 0.20 C. The extra warming of 0.96 C is spurious and likely due to UHIs, land use changes, station moves, and microsite issues.

    It is likely that the 0.7 C global warming reported by Jones and by GISS actually contains a spurious warming of about 0.4 to 0.5 C, leaving a true climatic trend of the order of 0.2 to 0.3 C. This small trend implies a low climate sensitivity.

    5. Warming in the twentieth century has been anomalous.

    Paper: Mann, M.E., R.S. Bradley, and M.K. Hughes, 1999. Northern Hemisphere temperatures during the past millennium: inferences, uncertainties, and limitations. Geophysical Research Letters, 26, 759–762.

    Error: The paper has numerous mathematical and sampling errors and its methodology will generate a hockey stick like warming using random red noise. It has been thoroughly debunked by McIntyre, S., and R. McKitrick, 2005. Hockey sticks, principal components, and spurious significance. Geophysical Research Letters, 32.

    6. Hurricane activity is anomalously high in the 20th century in the Atlantic.

    Paper: Mann, M. E., Woodruff, J. D., Donnelly, J. P., and Zhang, Z., 2009. Atlantic hurricanes and climate over the past 1,500 years. Nature, 460, 880-883.

    Error: The paper seems to use observed coastal striking hurricanes in the last two decades whereas earlier, they use changes in coastal sediment to detect land falling hurricanes. The two datasets are not homogeneous and should not be combined. A spurious increase will be found using this trick.

    T. R. Knutson , J. L. McBride , J. Chan , K. Emanuel , G. Holland , C. Landsea , I. Held , J. P. Kossin , A. K. Srivastava & M. Sugi, 2010. Tropical cyclones and climate change. Nature Geoscience, 3, 157-163, debunks Mann’s paper stating “Hurricane counts (with no adjustments for possible missing cases) show a significant increase from the late 1800s to present, but do not have a significant trend from the 1850s or 1860s to present. Other studies infer a substantial low-bias in early Atlantic tropical cyclone intensities (1851–1920), which, if corrected, would further reduce or possibly eliminate long-term increasing trends in basin-wide hurricane counts. Land falling tropical storm and hurricane activity in the US shows no long-term increase (Fig. 2, orange series). Basin-wide major hurricane counts show a significant rising trend, but we judge these basin-wide data as unreliable for climate-trend estimation before aircraft reconnaissance in 1944.” It also says “There is no conclusive evidence that any observed changes in tropical cyclone genesis, tracks, duration and surge flooding exceed the variability expected from natural causes.” And finally they say “we cannot at this time conclusively identify anthropogenic signals in past tropical cyclone data.”

  6. I should add the following to the list:

    Charlson,R. J., J. Langner, H. Rodhe, C. B. Leovy, and S. Warren, 1991. Perturbation of the Northern Hemisphere radiative balance by backscattering from anthropogenic aerosols. Tellus.

    It develops a model for the time variation of aerosols based upon economic activity. Actual measurements of the time variations of aerosols do not agree with the model and are ignored.

  7. 5.Douglas Hoyt Says:
    March 11th, 2010 at 7:55 am

    Error: The paper ignores the optical properties of water. Solar irradiance penetrates hundreds of meters into the ocean whereas the 15 micron thermal radiation from CO2 has almost no penetrating ability at all and will be absorbed in the upper 15 microns of the water where is will then be quickly re-emitted at all wavelengths. The paper concludes that the thermal infrared will warm the oceans….

    Bob says: A couple of deceased guys named Stevenson and Daly, and a live guy named Singer, have made the same argument as Hoyt, but they show their ignorance. It doesn’t matter that 15 micron IR can’t penetrate, but it does result in a warmer Ocean, because IR from CO2 reduces net IR heat losses to the sky, so the Sun’s warming of the Ocean is conserved, and the Ocean gets warmer.

    > >

  8. The increased carbon dioxide and its associated thermal radiation will, at best, slow down any cooling of the oceans. It will not cause their temperatures to rise. The 15 micron band only covers a small portion of the thermal spectrum. The water redistributes this radiation over the entire thermal band and allows it to escape to space in the infrared windows. The models ignore this portion of the physics.

    Lindzen and Choi recently showed increased thermal radiation to space with increased SSTs, based upon measurements, confirming what I say above. The models incorrectly showed decreased outgoing radiation.

  9. Warwick,
    Do you know a simple method of correcting for height when comparing two different weather stations? Station A at 365.8 m, station B 237m. Delta H in this case is 128.8 m. The two stations are about 15 km apart. Station B could be used to extend the record of station A but I need to account for the height difference.
    Any refs?

  10. It is years since I looked this up – so a I have had a quick look with Google and this Arrow site gives a figure of 1 degree C per 293 metres. A bit less than kasphar.
    Quote from near bottom of the Arrow page [In general, for each 293 meter (960-foot) increase in altitude the boiling point changes by 1ºC (1.8ºF)]
    Added on 19th: kasphar is right – the lapse rate is according to [In the troposphere (the first 4 km or 36,000 feet), and in a non-temperature inversion situation, the temperature drops about 6.5 °C for every 1 km increase in altitude..]

  11. MarcH the correct lapse rate upto 11,000m is -0.00649K/m. It is more higher up.

    This brings into question the point of D Hoyt (10) above. There can be no heat flux from CO2 in the atmosphere to the earths surface nearly all the time because temperature of the atmosphere is less than the surface. Unless there is work input, such as for air conditioning, heat can only flow from a high temperature to a low temperature. Even in air conditioning the compressor heats the refrigerant gas to high temperature and this is then cooled and condensed by air (at lower temperature) forced over vanes by a fan.
    The AGW theory contains an hidden hypothesis which assumes that the heat absorbed by CO2 is not lost and increases atmospheic temperature. This is incorrect. Any molecule of CO2 in the atmosphere at any temperature will radiate heat to space which is close to 0degreeK.
    CO2, water vapor and clouds(water droplets and ice particles) will slow down the rate of heat loss to space. Because lower gas density in the atmosphere above 11,000m the less chance of radiant heat loss being reduced. In this respect the effect of CO2 is very small because of the small wavelength range of absorptivity/emissivity and the minute quantity present in comparison to the effect of water (gas, liquid and solid). Many articles and books state that water vapor (before consideration of clouds) contributes 95% of the “Greenhouse Effect” see for example A Maurellis 2003 (website of IOP -may have to register but it is free). This figure however represents only about 60% of the longwave radiation because of the window of wavelength in the so called “greenhouse gases”. Mans contribute through emission of both water vapor and CO2 (burning of methane-natural gas has more greenhouse effect than burning of coal)is insignificant compared to the naturally occurring variations (particularly cloud formation) and may even be beneficial.
    This then confirms that the significant temperature changes of the surface can not be caused by emission of CO2. One has to respect the work of WSH and many others who are showing that claimed temperature increases are actually not true.
    regards and keep strong

  12. Thanks all. I didn’t end up using it in the paper i’m working but it will certainly come in handy down the track.

  13. The lapse rate I believe is for open air. Can this really be used for computing the difference in temps for surface stations at differing altitudes?? I would think surface conditions and differences in circulation and evaporation due to those conditions would invalidate this standard?

  14. The Report of the House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology on Climategate (Report 8) is available here.
    Its a whitewash and in retropspect that is not unexpected given that in the UK the political establishment is united on AGW. Donald Cameron, like former opposition leader Malcom Turnbull, is also afflicted with “meetooism”.
    Richard Courtney of SPPI has written a critique of the Reports Conclusions here.
    I tried to find Jones’ statement that “there was no statistically significant warming since 1995″ but its not there. He made that statement in a subsequent BBC interview! I think that admission puts a different light on the charge that he tried to “hide the decline”.
    Only two submissions, both from skeptics, made the point of a lack of warming in the last decade – Richard Courtney and Peabody Coal! This illustrates the short comings of these semi-judicial procedures. Unless the questioner asks the right questions you are not going to get to the truth!

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