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.
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 webcitation.org.
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.