Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Ben Santer's ClimateGate email October 9, 2007

Here is another email that clearly explains the scientist's perspective.  It outlines the flaws in the charges being brought against scientists and how they conduct their craft.

The thing is the folks who stole those emails, didn't have better understanding in mind, they want to attack and tear down - so there hasn't been the slightest interest in objectively reading these personal emails.  

That rekindled conversation over at Curry's no consensus on consensus underscores how little any of this has to do with rationally looking at the evidence.  The rank paranoia and political 'digging in' revealed in those comments is truly frightening.  Honest curiosity in understanding another's position or adding new knowledge doesn't exist over there. . .  where does that leave us?

From October 9th, 2009 email 

Dear Rick,

 I am prepared to help in any way that I can.

As I see it, there are two key issues here.

First, the CEI and Pat Michaels are arguing that Phil Jones and colleagues at the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) willfully and intentionally "destroyed" some of the raw surface temperature data used in the construction of the gridded surface temperature datasets. 

Second, the CEI and Pat Michaels contend that the CRU surface temperature datasets provided the sole basis for IPCC "discernible human influence" conclusions.

Both of these arguments are factually incorrect.  

First, there was no intentional destruction of the primary source data. I am sure that, over 20 years ago, Phil could not have foreseen that the raw station data might be the subject of legal proceedings by the CEI and Pat Michaels.  Raw data were NOT secretly destroyed to avoid efforts by other scientists to replicate the CRU and Hadley Centre-based estimates of global-scale changes in near-surface temperature.  

In fact, a key point here is that other groups (primarily at NCDC and at GISS, but also in Russia) WERE able to replicate the major findings of the CRU and Hadley Centre groups. The NCDC and GISS groups performed this replication completely independently.  

They made different choices in the complex process of choosing input data, adjusting raw station data for known inhomogeneities (such as urbanization effects, changes in instrumentation, site location, and observation time), and gridding procedures. NCDC and GISS-based estimates of global surface temperature changes are in good accord with the HadCRUT results. 

I'm sure that Pat Michaels does not have the primary source data used in his Ph.D. thesis. Perhaps one of us should request the datasets used in Michaels' Ph.D. work, and then ask the University of Wisconsin to withdraw Michaels' Ph.D. if he fails to produce every dataset and computer program used in the course of his thesis research. 

I'm equally sure that John Christy and Roy Spencer have not preserved every single version of their MSU-based estimates of tropospheric temperature change. Nor is it likely that Christy and Spencer have preserved for posterity each and every computer program they used to generate UAH tropospheric temperature datasets. 

[One irony here is that the Christy/Spencer claim that the troposphere had cooled over the satellite era did not stand up to rigorous scientific scrutiny. Christy and Spencer have made a scientific career out of being wrong. In contrast, CRU's claim of a pronounced increase in global-mean surface temperature over the 20th century HAS withstood the test of time.] 

 ~ ~ ~

The CEI and Michaels are applying impossible legal standards to science. They are essentially claiming that if we do not retain - and make available to self-appointed auditors - every piece of information about every scientific paper we have ever published, we are perpetrating some vast deception on the American public. I think most ordinary citizens understand that few among us have preserved every bank statement and every utility bill we've received in the last 20 years.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

The second argument - that "discernible human influence" findings are like a house of cards, resting solely on one observational dataset - is also invalid. The IPCC Third Assessment Report (TAR) considers MULTIPLE observational estimates of global-scale near-surface temperature changes. It does not rely on HadCRUT data alone - as is immediately obvious from Figure 2.1b of the TAR, which shows CRU, NCDC, and GISS global-mean temperature changes. 

As pointed out in numerous scientific assessments (e.g., the IPCC TARand Fourth Assessment Reports, the U.S. Climate Change Science Program Synthesis and Assessment Report 1.1, and the CCSP "State of Knowledge" Report), rigorous statistical fingerprint studies have now been performed with a whole range of climate variables - and not with surface temperature only. 

Examples include variables like ocean heat content, atmospheric water vapor, surface specific humidity, continental river runoff, sea-level pressure patterns, stratospheric and tropospheric temperature, tropopause height, zonal-mean precipitation over land, and Arctic sea-ice extent. 

The bottom-line message from this body of work is that natural causes alone CANNOT plausibly explain the climate changes we have actually observed. The climate system is telling us an internally- and physically-consistent story. The integrity and reliability of this story does NOT rest on a single observational dataset, as Michaels and the CEI incorrectly claim. 

Michaels should and does know better. I can only conclude from his behavior - and from his participation in this legal action - that he is being intentionally dishonest. His intervention seems to be timed to influence opinion in the run-up to the Copenhagen meeting, and to garner publicity for himself. In my personal opinion, Michaels should be kicked out of the AMS, the University of Virginia, and the scientific community as a whole. He cannot on the one hand engage in vicious public attacks on the reputations of individual scientists (in the past he has attacked Tom Karl, Tom Wigley, Jim Hansen, Mike Mann, myself, and numerous others), and on the other hand expect to be treated as a valued member of our professional societies. 

The sad thing here is that Phil Jones is one of the true gentlemen of our field. I have known Phil for most of my scientific career. He is the antithesis of the secretive, "data destroying" character the CEI and Michaels are trying to portray to the outside world. Phil and Tom Wiggly have devoted significant portions of their scientific careers to the construction of the land surface temperature component of the HadCRUT dataset.  

They have conducted this research in a very open and transparent manner - examining sensitivities to different ridding algorithms, different ways of adjusting for urbanization effects, use of various subsets of data, different ways of dealing with changes in spatial coverage over time, etc. They have thoroughly and comprehensively documented all of their dataset construction choices.   

They have done a tremendous service to the scientific community - and to the planet - by making gridded surface temperature datasets available for scientific research. They deserve medals as big as soup plates - not the kind of crap they are receiving from Pat Michaels and the CEI. 

The bottom line, Rick, is that I am incensed at the "data destruction" allegations that are being unfairly and incorrectly leveled against Phil and Tom by the CEI and Pat Michaels. Please let me know how you think I can be most effective in rebutting such allegations. Whatever you need from me - you've got it. 

I hope you don't mind, but I'm also copying my email to John Mitchell at the Hadley Centre. I know that John also feels very strongly about these issues. 

With best regards,


1 comment:

Peter said...

Dear Brad Keyes, your comments have been rejected for being pure smear, without any supporting evidence.

Make some serious comments, add some supporting evidence and I will be happy to post.

But I am not going to post empty headed repetitions of substance less denialist's soundbites,
thank you very much