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Friday, October 21, 2011
Berkeley Earth project jumps the shark, stirs the pot

Professor Muller of Berkeley with funding from many diffferent groups undertook a reevaluation of global temperature trends.The results predictably since he appears to have worked with much of the same raw data all three global data centers used or started with, found little had changed. Even before the peer review process on four papers in progress was complete, the project jumped the gun on releasing the results. The media equally predictably proclaimed it the deathknell for skepticism. There were a number of responses you should read before you prematurely jump to the same conclusion.

Roger Pielke Sr. on Climate Science:

On Climate Etc, Judy Curry posted

Berkeley Surface Temperatures: Released

which refers the Economist article “new analysis of the temperature record leaves little room for the doubters. The world is warming”

The Economist article includes the text

There are three compilations of mean global temperatures, each one based on readings from thousands of thermometers, kept in weather stations and aboard ships, going back over 150 years. Two are American, provided by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), one is a collaboration between Britainís Met Office and the University of East Angliaís Climate Research Unit (known as Hadley CRU). And all suggest a similar pattern of warming: amounting to about 0.9C over land in the past half century.

The raw surface temperature data from which all of the different global surface temperature trend analyses are derived are essentially the is no surprise that his trends are the same for GISS, CRU and NCDC but we do not know if it is true or not for Muller et al.  His claim is that they draw from a much larger set of data. Here is what I wrote on several weblogs.

rpielke says:
October 21, 2011 at 6:22 am
Zeke Hausfather Ė I realize that he has a much larger set of locations, but many of them are very short term in duration (as I read from his write up). Moreover, if they are in nearly the same geographic location as the GHCN sites, they are not providing much independent new information.

What I would like to see is a map with the GHCN sites and with the added sites from Muller et al. The years of record for his added sites should be given. Also, were the GHCN sites excluded when they did their trend assessment? If not, and the results are weighted by the years of record, this would bias the results towards the GHCN trends.

The evaluation of the degree of indepenence of the Muller et al sites from the GHCN needs to be quantified.

I discussed this most recently in my post: “Erroneous Information In The Report “Procedural Review of EPA’s Greenhouse Gases Endangerment Finding Data Quality Processes”

The new Muller et al study, therefore, has a very major unanswered question. I have asked it on Judyís weblog since she is a co-author of these studies [and Muller never replied to my request to answer this question].

Hi Judy Ė I encourage you to document how much overlap there is in Mullerís analysis with the locations used by GISS, NCDC and CRU. In our paper

Pielke Sr., R.A., C. Davey, D. Niyogi, S. Fall, J. Steinweg-Woods, K. Hubbard, X. Lin, M. Cai, Y.-K. Lim, H. Li, J. Nielsen-Gammon, K. Gallo, R. Hale, R. Mahmood, S. Foster, R.T. McNider, and P. Blanken, 2007: Unresolved issues with the assessment of multi-decadal global land surface temperature trends. J. Geophys. Res., 112, D24S08, doi:10.1029/2006JD008229.

we reported that

“The raw surface temperature data from which all of the different global surface temperature trend analyses are derived are essentially the same. The best estimate that has been reported is that 90Ė95% of the raw data in each of the analyses is the same (P. Jones, personal communication, 2003).”

Unless, Muller pulls from a significanty different set of raw data, it is no surprise that his trends are the same.

Anthony Watts in post The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project puts PR before peer review.

Readers may recall this post last week where I complained about being put in a uncomfortable quandary by an author of a new paper. Despite that, I chose to honor the confidentiality request of the author Dr. Richard Muller, even though I knew that behind the scenes, they were planning a media blitz to MSM outlets. In the past few days I have been contacted by James Astill of the Economist, Ian Sample of the Guardian, and Leslie Kaufman of the New York Times. They have all contacted me regarding the release of papers from BEST today.

Thereís only one problem: Not one of the BEST papers have completed peer review.

Nor has one has been published in a journal to my knowledge, nor is the one paper I’ve been asked to comment on in press at JGR, (where I was told it was submitted) yet BEST is making a “pre-peer review” media blitz.

One willing participant to this blitz, that I spent the last week corresponding with, is James Astill of The Economist, who presumably wrote the article below, but we canít be sure since the Economist has not the integrity to put author names to articles.

In an earlier post, Anthony reported:

Thorne said scientists who contributed to the three main studies -by NOAA, NASA and Britainís Met Office -welcome new peer-reviewed research. But he said the Berkeley team had been “seriously compromised” by publicizing its work before publishing any vetted papers. - Peter Thorne, National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C.

He went on to report even IPCC Lead Author and alarmist Kevin Trenberth had his doubts:

Even Trenberth isnít too sure about it:

Kevin Trenberth, who heads the Climate Analysis Section of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, a university consortium, said he was “highly skeptical of the hype and claims” surrounding the Berkeley effort. “The team has some good people,” he said, “but not the expertise required in certain areas, and purely statistical approaches are naive.”

Lubos Motl The Reference Frame Berkeley Earth recalculates global mean temperature, gets misinterpreted:

Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature led by Richard Muller Ė a top Berkeley physics teacher and the PhD adviser of the fresh physics Nobel prize winner Saul Perlmutter, among others - has recalculated the evolution of the global mean temperature in the most recent two centuries or so, qualitatively confirmed the previous graphs, and got dishonestly reported in the media.

Some people including Marc Morano of Climate Depot were predicting that this outcome was the very point of the project. They were worried about the positive treatment that Richard Muller received at various places including this blog and they were proved right. Today, it really does look like all the people in the “BEST” project were just puppets used in a bigger, pre-planned propaganda game.

Marc Morano of Climate Depot in Befuddled Warmist Richard Muller Declares Skeptics Should Convert to Believers Because His Study Shows the Earth Has Warmed Since the 1950s!

‘Warming now equals human causation?! Muller should be ashamed of himself for promoting media spin like this’—‘Muller’s study is already being met with massive scientific blowback from his colleagues’.

See editorial and summary.

Nigel Calder in Calder’s Updates reacts this way:

Nice research, curious rhetoric. Just dis-embargoed at noon PST (8 pm BST) on 20 October are a press release and associated papers from the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperatures (BEST) project. A team led by Richard A. Muller has been asking whether the histories of land surface temperatures from the likes of NOAA, NASA and the Hadley Centre are to be trusted. Clever statistics glean and process raw data from 39,000 weather stations world wide - more than five times as many as used by other analysts.

...The BEST study, based on a random selection of weather stations, youíll see that the average temperatures of the land correspond quite well with the other series.
What’s very odd is the rhetoric of the press release. It begins:

Global warming is real, according to a major study released today. Despite issues raised by climate change skeptics, the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature study finds reliable evidence of a rise in the average world land temperature of approximately 1C since the mid-1950s.

Global warming real? Not recently, folks. The black curve in the graph confirms what experts have known for years, that warming stopped in the mid-1990s, when the Sun was switching from a manic to a depressive phase.

Elsewhere the press release first begs the question by calling the past 50 years “the period during which the human effect on temperatures is discernible” and then contradicts this by saying, “What Berkeley Earth has not done is make an independent assessment of how much of the observed warming is due to human actions, Richard Muller acknowledged.”

Let me say there is interesting stuff in the material released today, particularly in the paper on Decadal Variations, tracing links with El Nino and other regional temperature oscillations - a subject I may return to when I have more time.

It hasn’t escaped my attention that BEST is today gunning mainly for Anthony Watts and his Surface Stations project in the USA, but heís well capable of answering for himself.

See also James Delingpole on the Muller releases.

Posted on 10/21 at 06:24 AM
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