German Scientists: “Joelle Gergis Has Lost All Critical Distance To Her Research Results”

The Gergis Australian Hockey Stick folly has been dominating climate science news. Won’t they ever learn?

New hockey stick, but with the same problems.

Geologist Sebastian Lüning and Prof Fritz Vahrenholt comment on the story. I’ve translated their comment in English to give readers an idea of what the German skeptic viewpoint is. Parts have been edited for brevity.


Controversy surrounds new Australian Hockey Stick: authors withdraw paper

Sebastian Lüning and Fritz Vahrenholt

Most of you know about the Hockey Stick saga. Late in the 1990s Michael Mann in his doctorate thesis flattened the pre-industrial temperature history by using a “suitable statistical process” along with faulty data so that the warming occurring since the end of the Little Ice Age could be shown as an unprecedented event (see The Hockey Stick Illusion by Andrew Montford). Today this Hockey Stick curve is deemed as refuted. Even Michael Mann’s team bit their lips and corrected it in 2008. Suddenly the Medieval Warm Period and ther Little Ice Age reappeared.

Even so, it seems some IPCC scientists just can’t to break their addiction to the good ol Hockey Stick days. They’d like nothing more than to turn back time. With this in mind, one can surely understand the short-lived euphoria that swept over IPCC fanclub website “Real Climate”.

Real Climate erupted in jubilation when the new Australian hockey stick by Gergis et al appeared. In the new reconstruction they had found their long lost son. The warming of the last 100 years was once again something special, and not because of natural cycles.

The Australian authors interpreted their new curve as evidence of an unusual warming in the late 20th century. Once again this impressed the IPCC so much that the paper was promptly integrated into the recently drafted AR5. The draft boasted of “completely new datasets” that made up the reconstructions.

However, hockey stick sleuth and statistics ace Steve McIntyre (prompted by a tip  from Jean S) could not resist the temptation of taking a good look at the curve. Here he found unexpected things (see his report at Climate Audit).

Firstly the “new” datasets turned out not to be as new as claimed in the AR5 draft. Moreover, the data had been used in the report from 5 years earlier.

In addition, Joelle Gergis and her colleagues committed capital methodological and calculation errors, as McIntyre together with Jean S were able to show. McIntyre began to correpsond with Gergis by e-mail, but instead of thanking McIntyre for the important information, Gergis curtly wrote back saying she wanted no further E-mail contact. Also Gergis refused to provide further data for the purpose of checking.

That’s a strange communication strategy in such as scientific crisis situation – batten down the hatches and close your eyes. Also Gergis’s website appeared to go offline. Andrew Montford then reported that Joelle Gergis is apparently an active member of the environmental movement. Her blog related to this also suddenly disappeared. But the Internet has a memory and a copy of the blog can be found at at

By mixing activism and science, Joelle Gergis has apparently lost all critical distance research results, which invariably leads to such errors. A science open to results is impossible with that attitude. This is not only true for Gergis. Inconvenient results are suppressed, interpretations constantly distorted in one direction, and alternatives are ignored or swept aside. Gergis’s refusal to admit to errors and to have a fruitful dialogue with opposing views can only be explained by her ideological fixation.

Luckily a co-author of the Australian paper jumped in and controlled the damage. David Karoly wrote McIntyre an Email, thanked McIntyre for the information and confirmed that there had been large errors which the team will look into. The published paper was withdrawn. At the Journal of Climate site, the paper is no longer available:


In summary, the comeback attempt of the Hockey Stick turned into a complete folly. The IPCC are certainly the ones who will be the most annoyed by the incident, as the already integrated paper will have to be removed from the 5AR draft. According to a press release press releaseg about the paper put out by the University of Melbourne dated 17 May 2012, it is clear that the it had been written especially for the IPCC 5th assessment report. Does the blunder indicate that peer-reviewers of many journals are simply too uncritical when it comes to works by authors close to the IPCC?

How could peer-reviewers have missed it? Similarly slipshod was the work of Notz & Marotzke (2012) (see our blog article ”Hamburger Max-Planck-Institut uses dubious data on Arctic sea ice“). It is absolutely mind-boggling how such papers are able to survive the peer-review process. The grievances are obvious already at first glance.

At Realclimate blog the team has shifted its focus over to determining who actually first discovered the error in the Australian paper. The last thing they want is to do is to concede the victory to McIntyre.


13 responses to “German Scientists: “Joelle Gergis Has Lost All Critical Distance To Her Research Results””

  1. DirkH

    Joelle Gergis said this in her last e-mail:
    “This list allows any researcher who wants to access non publically available records to follow the appropriate protocol of contacting the original authors to obtain the necessary permission to use the record, take the time needed to process the data into a format suitable for data analysis etc, just as we have done. This is commonly referred to as ‘research’.

    We will not be entertaining any further correspondence on the matter.



    I commented:

    And she got taxpayer money for it, and now she should make it available. This is commonly referred to as “serving the public”.

    She should be dismissed and excluded from further public funding, as she is refusing to work for her employer, the public.

    She shows totally appalling behaviour; clearly a green activist that erroneously got awarded reasearch funds. The bureaucrat who awarded the money should be sued for damages to the public purse.

    Will not happen, of course. Traitors the lot of them.#
    See also here:

    1. Phil W

      & I want who ever did the peer review out of a job too.

      If they apply a bit of testing of these papers, they are as guilty as the authors.

  2. Harry Dale Huffman

    This is vain argument all around, as the answer is not to be found in interrogation of the statistics, but in the physics supposed to underpin the climate consensus. There is no greenhouse effect, of increased temperature with increased atmospheric carbon dioxide. The consensus is not based upon fraudulent statistics, but upon incompetent physics, prior to any statistical methodology, good or bad. The Venus/Earth temperature ratio, at points of equal pressure over the full range of Earth tropospheric pressures, is a constant, that is due only, and precisely, to the ratio of those two planets’ distances from the Sun, nothing else (not to carbon dioxide concentration, not to cloud cover, not to planetary albedo, not to any internal “radiative forcing” whatsoever). Any competent physicist MUST tell you this means that increasing the carbon dioxide means nothing, since Venus has over 2400 times the concentration of carbon dioxide as does Earth (96.5% versus 0.04%). Only the distance from the Sun matters, in a proper comparison of Venus and Earth temperatures (which is simply, at points of equal pressure in the two tropospheres). That is the inarguable fact that everyone on both sides of the incompetent climate debate refuses to face, and yet MUST face, in the end. The reason they won’t, so long as the people of the world let them get away with it, is because the Venus/Earth comparison shows that 97% of skeptics, as well as 97% of climate scientists, are just as incompetent to recognize and focus upon the definitive fact, that there is no greenhouse effect acting to produce a runaway warming of the planet. There is no competent physics underlying the climate consensus.

    1. Mindert Eiting

      Harry, I agree with you. But this is about terrible research, comparable with sloppy epidemiologic research that should be published at best in an internal memo.

  3. Edward.

    “How could peer-reviewers have missed it?”

    In Britain, we have a saying for it.

    Wherein, a fanatical green warrior [let us say for example Ms. Gergis]. Who faithfully believes in the great goddess Gaia and that she [gaia] is under attack. Whereby, only the faithful can fashion to redeem mother earth from those filthy capitalist scum and sons of mongrel curs who lie with beasts borne of the devil – you know the type of thing – a ‘howling at the moon eco-fascist”.

    Who, then by some minor miracle manages to get herself some sort of degree. With said piece of paper and armed with the sure knowledge that she is righteous.
    Thinks, “Eureka!” and then decides to resurrect some decidedly dodgy science [the hokey schtick] a chimera: that even that lamebrain and dodgy politician [Al Gore] has dropped.

    “OH yes she screams”,

    “I’ve nailed it this time!”

    Yep, damn it – the British call it – WISHFUL THINKING.

    btw – how did she manage to escape the reservation?

  4. DirkH

    Spiegel has an interesting article.
    It’s a 4 part article and the interesting part is on page 4: The biggest explosion of the 20th century, the Katmai, like Mount St Helens a mountain evaporated, 1912.
    “For two years the climate cooled measurably.”

    Hmm… according to Global Warming scientists, this should have send us straight back into the LIA… as they have shown that the LIA was caused not by the sun but by volcanoes…

  5. Arno Arrak

    My problem is that in all these hockey sticks with add-on thermometer readings that turn up sharply there appears the late twentieth century warming of the eighties and nineties. It does not exist. First, satellites cannot even see this warming, the very same that Hansen spoke of in 1988. Comparing satellite and ground-based data it is obvious that ground based data get their upward swing by lowering the depth of La Nina valleys present in all of these data. The actual temperature since the satellite record began in 1979 consists of a standstill in the eighties and nineties, followed by a short spurt of warming initiated by the super El Nino of 1998. In four years global temperature rises by a third of a degree and then stops. And from that point on until the present there is no more warming – another ten tear temperature standstill. NASA, NOAA, and the Met Office have never recognized satellite temperature records for that very specific reason. Their published temperature record can not be trusted and should be replaced by satellite temperature record beginning with 1979. A full analysis of this record can be found in “What Warming?” available on Amazon.

  6. Diappearing Science…damned by ideology | pindanpost

    […] And now, Fritz Varenholt, author of The Cold Sun spells out the obvious conflict: By mixing activism and science, Joelle Gergis has apparently lost all critical distance [from her] research results, which invariably leads to such errors. A science open to results is impossible with that attitude. This is not only true for Gergis. Inconvenient results are suppressed, interpretations constantly distorted in one direction, and alternatives are ignored or swept aside. Gergis’s refusal to admit to errors and to have a fruitful dialogue with opposing views can only be explained by her ideological fixation. (source) […]

  7. Mindert Eiting

    Thanks, Arno. You write ‘lowering the depth of La Nina valleys present in all of these data’. Why should you do this in the data of stations that are dropped from the collection? If I have time this week, I will make a comparison between stations in the GHCN data base, included before 1970 and from them the stations dropped during 1970-1991 and the stations dropped after that period or not at all. By the way, this lowering of valleys also makes that time series will correlate higher, which makes up the most significant difference between dropped and non-dropped stations.

  8. Mindert Eiting

    I owe you a short summary of my results, showing no deepening of valleys but something else. I have taken stations in the GHCN base, all included before 1970. I distinguished in this population two groups: stations dropped during 1970-1991 (droppers) and stations dropped after 1991 (survivors). Stations dropped before 1970 were left out. With both groups of considerable size temperature time series were estimated in twelve latitude regions of 15 degrees width. Next the estimated time series of the droppers were subtracted from those of the survivors. If drop-out of stations were a random affair, we would expect irregular difference-series about zero. On the Southern Hemisphere between latitudes -45 till -90 mean differences of the series range from (minus) -3.3 till -8.6 degrees Celsius. The latter value applies at Antarctica 1957-1991. Moreover, the trend is clearly downward here. Surviving stations report till 1991 considerably lower temperatures than the droppers in this region of the earth. The next remarkable zone is -15 till 0 South (southern Tropics). The mean difference equals plus 2.4 degrees Celsius in the period 1866-1991 with the highest value around 1940. Here the survivors are much warmer than the droppers. In the northern Tropics between latitude 0 and 15 the mean difference during 1866-1991 is negative again or -0.5 degrees Celsius with a clear upward trend. The next remarkable zone is between latitudes 45 till 75 North. In the period 1768/1846-1991 the mean difference is about plus 2 degrees Celsius whereas the pattern is irregular. The Arctic zone in the period 1953-1991 shows a negative difference again of -0.5 degrees Celsius with some lows in 1954-1971. The Arctic survivors are cooler than the droppers. The differences seem to be the result of systematic selection (or adaptation) and it may be advisable that others repeat this survival analysis, especially regarding the Southern Hemisphere, of which I cannot mention much details, of course.

  9. RCS

    Dr Gergis should release her data and her analysis. If she is correct she has nothing to hide.

    If she is unable to do this, she should be disnissed.

  10. Sonny

    Congratulations Gergis,

    You have just helped undo years and years of solid climate science.
    What made you think that 0.o9 +/- 0.19 degrees of warming could be spun as unprecedented anyway? And did you not learn anything from Michael Mann? He was caught out for the same kind of cherry picking of proxy series and statistical chicanery you thought you could get away with a second time? And why didn’t you delete your activist blog BEFORE you released your results to the world – nothing is worse than appearing to have something to hide! I can only imagine that like me, the noble institutions (ARC, Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency and Past Global Changes) who geberously funded your research will be most unhappy.

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