Thursday, June 26, 2014

Denier weirdness: Is Steve McIntyre calling the instrumental record an "artifact"?

Sou | 5:10 AM Go to the first of 11 comments. Add a comment

Saw this comment by that poor old obsessive climate science denying crusader Steve McIntyre at WUWT today. Steve McIntyre says:
June 25, 2014 at 10:34 am
Anthony, it looks to me like Goddard’s artifact is almost exactly equivalent in methodology to Marcott’s artifact spike – this is a much more exact comparison than Mann. Marcott’s artifact also arose from data drop-out.
However, rather than conceding the criticism, Marcott et al have failed to issue a corrigendum and their result has been widely cited.

Is Steve mistaking the instrumental record for an "artifact"? Or is he talking about that little blip in the most recent bit of the Marcott data. If the latter then it just goes to show that, even after all this time, Steve has still not bothered to read Marcott et al. Or if he did he missed the bit where they wrote (my bold italics):
Without filling data gaps, our Standard 5×5 reconstruction (Fig. 1A) exhibits 0.6°C greater warming over the past ~60 yr B.P. (1890 to 1950 CE) than our equivalent infilled 5° × 5° area-weighted mean stack (Fig. 1, C and D). However, considering the temporal resolution of our data set and the small number of records that cover this interval (Fig. 1G), this difference is probably not robust. Before this interval, the gap-filled and unfilled methods of calculating the stacks are nearly identical (Fig. 1D).

I've got to say that I'm a bit surprised Steve's continues to beat this drum.  It makes him look very foolish. Normally he likes to make believe he's clever. He usually wants people to think he knows more than all the climate scientists in the world. Yet, as his comment shows, the doddery dogsbody still hasn't got the point of the research or understood it's findings. I'd have thought by now he'd at least have read the paper and if not that, he could have read the FAQ, where they explain the above passage again, writing (my blue, bold italics):
Q: What do paleotemperature reconstructions show about the temperature of the last 100 years?
A: Our global paleotemperature reconstruction includes a so-called “uptick” in temperatures during the 20th-century. However, in the paper we make the point that this particular feature is of shorter duration than the inherent smoothing in our statistical averaging procedure, and that it is based on only a few available paleo-reconstructions of the type we used. Thus, the 20th century portion of our paleotemperature stack is not statistically robust, cannot be considered representative of global temperature changes, and therefore is not the basis of any of our conclusions. Our primary conclusions are based on a comparison of the longer term paleotemperature changes from our reconstruction with the well-documented temperature changes that have occurred over the last century, as documented by the instrumental record. Although not part of our study, high-resolution paleoclimate data from the past ~130 years have been compiled from various geological archives, and confirm the general features of warming trend over this time interval (Anderson, D.M. et al., 2013, Geophysical Research Letters, v. 40, p. 189-193; http://www.agu.org/journals/pip/gl/2012GL054271-pip.pdf).

You'll notice that as Shaun Marcott points out, there is plenty of data around for the recent past. Marcott13 is about the entire Holocene record. Steve McIntyre doesn't "get it". Still, Steve's got to deny I guess. It's all he's good for. And Marcott13 was an important paper, especially for deniers, because it really showed up the fact that humans are entering very new territory as far as climate goes.

The chart below shows where we've been and where we're heading. The green bit is from Shakun12 showing when earth was cold and humans struggled for survival. The blue bit is the surface temperature over the period since human civilisation. The red bit is where we're heading this century.

Adapted from Jos Hagelaars

Incidentally, Anthony Watts in that article was doing something positive for a change. He was explaining why Steve Goddard is making a fool of himself over US surface temperatures (archived here).  Peter Sinclair talks about this in his latest "Climate Crocks" episode. So did Media Matters, because Fox News made some fuss about it all. Fox News really does know how to add to its reputation as the place to avoid if you are after facts. Dana Nuccitelli is on the ball at the Guardian, too.

It looks as if Anthony is going to spoil his good efforts in this regard in the upcoming Part 2 of his two-part take-down of Steve Goddard. Anthony Watts says, in reply to Steve McIntyre:
June 25, 2014 at 10:55 am
Steve McIntyre: good point, I’ll address that in part 2. Thank you.

From the WUWT comments

This comment is about Steve Goddard and I thought it was interesting because the person who made it usually comes across as being just as much of an "utter nutter".  NikFromNYC says:
June 25, 2014 at 10:47 am
Goddard willfully sponsors a hostile and utterly reason averse and pure tribal culture on his very high traffic skeptical blog where about a dozen political fanatics are cheerled on by a half dozen tag along crackpots who all pile on anybody who offers constructive criticism. His blog alone is responsible for the continuing and very successful negative stereotyping of mainstream skepticism by a highly funded alarmist PR machine. His overpolitization of climate model skepticism results in a great inertia by harshly alienating mostly liberal academic scientists and big city professionals who also lean left but who might otherwise be open to reason. I live two blocks from NASA GISS above Tom’s Diner, just above the extremely liberal Upper West Side and my main hassle in stating facts and showing official data plots is online extremism being pointed out by Al Gore’s activist crowd along with John Cook’s more sophisticated obfuscation crowd. Goddard’s regular conspiracy theory about CIA drug use to brainwash school kids into shooting incidents in order to disarm conservatives in preparation for concentration camps for conservatives is something skeptics should stop ignoring and start actively shunning. His blog is the crack house of skepticism.

Marcott, Shaun A., Jeremy D. Shakun, Peter U. Clark, and Alan C. Mix. "A reconstruction of regional and global temperature for the past 11,300 years." science 339, no. 6124 (2013): 1198-1201. DOI: 10.1126/science.1228026

Shakun, Jeremy D., Peter U. Clark, Feng He, Shaun A. Marcott, Alan C. Mix, Zhengyu Liu, Bette Otto-Bliesner, Andreas Schmittner, and Edouard Bard. "Global warming preceded by increasing carbon dioxide concentrations during the last deglaciation." Nature 484, no. 7392 (2012): 49-54. doi:10.1038/nature10915


  1. Sou, I think you maybe misinterpreting "artifact" in the context of Steve's post. Taking time spatial raw data that is "noisy" and running it through a computer adjustment program can create can create artifacts in the data that might not be correct depending on the statistical/mathematical method you are using. Kind of like Mann originally using end weighted PCA instead of center weighted. The current GISS & HCN raw data set is adjusted for good reason, see Hansen 2001 for the rational for station adjustments. I do find it odd that the HCN data set has approx. 70k raw data stations but report 90k+ adjusted stations. I'm guessing it is a kriging method. I'm not sure how the GISS & HCN is being adjusted, does anyone have a layman's explanation?

  2. I am more intrigued by AW by playing the "skeptic" with Goddard...
    Are these posts just part of some long term plan to portray WUWT as "fair and balanced" ?

    1. Flakmeister, I'm thinking Anthony's probably a bit put out that "Steve Goddard" caught the limelight on Fox News, while Anthony "surface station" Watts only got a footnote. Not only that, because they are both science deniers, Anthony gets tarred with the same brush for Steve's incompetence. He'd be trying to regain some ground.

      Anthony didn't start off too well, doing a Marcott denial, like Steve McIntyre.

      The episode is splitting deniers into camps. There is no middle ground. Anthony and Steve McIntyre would like to think there is, but outside of the deniosphere there isn't. I think both Steve Goddard and Anthony Watts are sharing the stage at the upcoming denier-fest in Las Vegas. I wonder how that will work out? (The show is handing out prizes for the best denier but I don't think either of them won any prizes this time around.)

    2. Well, this episode has been useful to me, as I can now point out to Dr. Dennis Bray, if he ever decides to venture on one of the blogs I frequent (maybe he will return briefly at ATTP?), that even Anthony Watts has criticized Goddard.

      Since this may sound opaque, see
      "Steve Goddard, NOAA – is there really that much difference?"

    3. Do I read that right. Dr. Dennis Bray, employee of Von Storch and co-blogger at the Klimazwiebel, is saying that Steven Goddard and NOAA are similarly reliable? That must be one of biggest insults hurdled at NOAA in a long time.

      That on a blog where you are not allowed to say anything bad about climate sceptics, because Von Stroch's want to build bridges to these fragile people.

    4. Yes, you read that right.

      Although NOAA probably consider Watts & D'Aleo accusing them of fraudulent data manipulation a greater insult still.

    5. "The show is handing out prizes for the best denier..."

      How is the winner determined? Is it whoever's followers manage to create the the largest illusory crowd?

    6. Remember tha Goddard used to be a guest poster at WUWT, and that ended up badly when he wrote a post claiming that it snows dry ice in Antarctica. In Watts' effort to keep an "open mind" the conversation drifted into claims that all physics textbooks that address the physics of gasses are wrong, Goddard right. Eventually even Watts saw the foolishness of this. Goddard wouldn't stop with his claims. Upshot in the end was that Goddard was ejected from the mothership. I suspect that hard feelings on both sides still exist.

      At least, that's my remembrance.

    7. Yes, "Steven Goddard" confused triple points so badly that even Anthony Watts was forced to say "Steven, you really need to stop. ... you are [behaving incredibly badly]"

      He's still digging that hole (!) and does seem to have hard feelings.

  3. Isn't it interesting that climate deniers and the American Republican Party seem to be undergoing schisms at the same time, with both trying to de-louse themselves of nutball cooties? Not surprising, though, given the considerable Venn diagram overlaps involved.

    1. Yea, but when most of the GOP crowd is dependent on "nutballs" by that I mean, faith based thinkers who put ideology above reality - what's left for us ???

      Look at the entire party and the special interest forces who make up their backbone. Look at how they deal with science and complex real world issues… by unleashing their dogs of wrath on anyone who dares talk demonstrable facts and such - so what can we expect at this point?

      I would suggest that a the root of it all is that the "god" of their In God We Trust… is a self-made creation of human-egomania, a character of political convenience, who's got nothing to do with any God of Creation or Time.

      Consider the Republican dependence on hostility during the Clinton's and Obama's administration - "F the country/future, their marching orders were to do and say anything and everything to damage their presidencies. Not one f'n real concern for dealing with the growing problems of our time… always politics of power and profits.

      Christ Republicans still believe they did a good thing with their Bush/Cheney's war of adventure in Iraq and it's Obama who's screwed it all up - when the current outcome was easy to project the day they started planning that insanity. Their disconnect from down to Earth happenings is utterly incomprehensible to me. . .

      OK, enough of my opinion - the following has little to with my particular rant here. But, it does highlight the Republican faith-based absolutist thinking that requires them to make enemies of all who disagree with them.
      ~ ~ ~

      This guy makes some good points about the Gore Effect - worth considering

      "Tracing the Republican Evolution on Climate Change"
      PAUL WALDMAN MAY 12, 2014


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