A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).

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Excuse Files: Arctic treemometers measure sunlight too

The Satirical Times

Mother Nature has issued a disguised voluntary recall notice for Arctic Treemometers. Sold as a way of measuring temperatures over the last two millennium, they turned out to fail frequently, even going against trends in most other thermometers in the last half century. The flaw has been quietly recognized for years, but is rarely mentioned in polite circles.

Critics wonder why it took Mother Nature so long to issue the recall and why it is so qualified and partial. They point out that these safety warnings only seem to appear when product salesmen are also offering a repair kit for sale too.

In this case Stine and Huybers tell us they can fix the “divergence” problem with treemometers by considering incoming light. Treemometers are failing, they say, because of global dimming and inconvenient volcanoes. As long as sunlight reaches trees the treemometers work. (Critics dryly reply that it’s hardly news that sunlight affects tree growth, and that they never bought the tree-ring data in any case.)

Meanwhile Mann-made Treemometers Inc issued a statement in 4-point Roman Half-Uncial script at 3am saying that their Treemometers are as accurate as ever in all locations where cloud cover, [...]

Chinese 2,485 year tree ring study shows natural cycles control climate, temps may cool til 2068

A blockbuster Chinese study of Tibetan tree rings by Liu et al 2011 shows, with detail, that the modern era is a dog-standard normal climate when compared to the last 2,500 years. The temperature, the rate of change — it’s all been seen before. Nothing about the current period is “abnormal”, indeed the current warming period in Tibet can be produced through calculation of cycles. Liu et al do a Fourier analysis on the underlying cycles and do brave predictions as well.

In Tibet, it was about the same temperature on at least four occasions — back in late Roman times (those chariots!), then again in the dark ages (blame the collapse of industry), then in the middle ages (the Vikings?), then in modern times (blame the rise of industry).

Clearly, these climate cycles have nothing to with human civilization. Their team finds natural cycles of many different lengths are at work: 2-3 years, 100 years, 199 years, 800 years, and 1,324 years. The cold periods are associated with sunspot cycles. What we are not used to seeing are brave scientists willing to publish exact predictions of future temperatures for 100 years that include rises and falls. Apparently, it will [...]

Messages from the global raw rural data. Warnings, gotcha’s and tree ring divergence explained!

Have you wondered what the global raw rural data tells us?

What did those thermometers say before the adjustments, smoothing, selection, and averaging?

This just might be the first time anyone has publicly compared the global raw data to published adjusted data sets in this way.

Frank Lansner has been dedicated in the extreme, and has developed a comprehensive Rural Unadjusted Temperature Index, or RUTI. One of the most interesting points to come out of this extensive work is the striking difference between coastal stations and inland stations. Frank kept noticing that the trend of the inland stations was markedly different from coastal stations and island stations.

Fig1. Red-Blue lines mark regions where there was a different coastal to inland trend. In green areas the two trends were similar.

What he finds is perhaps not so unusual: The coastal areas are heavily influenced by the sea surface temperature. Inland stations record larger rises and falls in temperature, which is hardly surprising. But, the implications are potentially large. When records from some stations are smoothed over vast distances (as in 1200 km smoothing), results can be heavily skewed by allowing coastal trends to be smoothed across inland areas. What Lansner [...]

Zombie Hockey stick dies again

Just when you think it’s too dead to kill: along comes a new paper in a top ranking statistics journal by McShane and Wyner. It’s worth taking stock. It’s a damning paper:

…we conclude unequivocally that the evidence for a ”long-handled” hockey stick (where the shaft of the hockey stick extends to the year 1000 AD) is lacking in the data.

But in the big scheme of things the Hockey Stick Graph was already dead.

Each one of these points is enough to cast grave doubts on the Hockey Stick. The Hockey Stick uses the wrong type of proxy – tree rings. Trees grow faster when it’s warmer, and when it’s wetter, or when the tree next-door falls down and a herd of manure-making cows move in. Almost all other types of proxies disagree (like ice cores, ocean sediments, corals, and stalagmites). Over 6000 boreholes, hundreds of studies, as well as recorded history show the world was warmer 1,000 years ago. (See here for the refs.) Even among tree rings, the Hockey Stick uses the wrong type of tree – Bristlecone pines – which appear to grow faster as CO2 [...]

Breaking news: Cherry Picking of Historic Proportions

A big news day. It appears Steve McIntyre (volunteer unpaid auditor of Big-Government-Science) has killed the Hockey Stick a second time…

The details are on the last three days of Steve McIntyre’s site Climate Audit, and summed up beautifully on Watts Up.

The sheer effrontery and gall appears to be breathtaking.

The Briffa temperature graphs have been widely cited as evidence by the IPCC, yet it appears they were based on a very carefully selected set of data, so select, that the shape of the graph would have been totally transformed if the rest of the data had been included.

Kieth Briffa used 12 samples to arrive at his version of the hockey stick and refused to provide his data for years. When McIntyre finally got hold of it, and looked at the 34 samples that Briffa left out of his graphs, a stark message was displayed.  McIntyre describes it today as one of the most disquieting images he’s ever presented.