RealClimate Plays Defense Worse Than The Cleveland Browns

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*** Note# 1: I’m off the grid for a few days. If you leave a comment, I’ll reply as soon as I can. Man, I miss my iPhone! ***

*** Note # 2: If you’re familiar with climate science and Climategate, skip the first paragraph. ***

For those who aren’t familiar with the in’s and out’s of what the heck I’m talking about, it’s very complicated and there is so much taht can’t be explained in one post. That said, I will give a brief (very brief) explanation of paleo-climate science. Paleo-climate science is the study of our climate – weather, temperature, atmospheric gases and other natural phenomenon, over a long period of time. Since we only have been accurately measuring temps since 1850, we have to use proxies such as coral samples, tree rings and concentrations of oxygen isotopes in ice core samples to try and flesh out the temperatures of a region. Also, there is a core of paleo-climatologists, Michael Mann, Keith Briffa, Phill Jones etc., who have published much of the research that states that we are experiencing unprecedented warming at the tail end of the twentieth century. Many of these same scientists are also at the center of the latest controversy. Collectively, skeptics refer to them as “The Team”, as they are dominant in the field, often work together on research papers, have heavy influence in what gets included in various peer review journals and the IPCC publications, and are staunch allies in the fight against the skeptic POV. Mann is also a co-author of the RealClimate blog. ***

Gavin and company at RealClimate have had to spend quite the amount of energy defending the content released from the Hadley / CRU hack. Here is their latest:

This is a continuation of the last thread which is getting a little unwieldy. The emails cover a 13 year period in which many things happened, and very few people are up to speed on some of the long-buried issues. So to save some time, I’ve pulled a few bits out of the comment thread that shed some light on some of the context which is missing in some of the discussion of various emails.

* Trenberth: You need to read his recent paper on quantifying the current changes in the Earth’s energy budget to realise why he is concerned about our inability currently to track small year-to-year variations in the radiative fluxes.
* Wigley: The concern with sea surface temperatures in the 1940s stems from the paper by Thompson et al (2007) which identified a spurious discontinuity in ocean temperatures. The impact of this has not yet been fully corrected for in the HadSST data set, but people still want to assess what impact it might have on any work that used the original data.
* Climate Research and peer-review: You should read about (1) the issues from the editors (2) (Claire Goodess, Hans von Storch) who resigned because of a breakdown of the peer review process at that journal, that came to light with the particularly (3)  egregious (and well-publicised) paper by (4) Soon and Baliunas (2003). The publisher’s assessment is (5) here.

The first two bullets don’t concern me at the moment. The third one does. Lets look at the links. To me, links are one of the strengths of good blogging; they give the reader a chance to confirm and corroborate the idea or argument being presented. Lets start with the paper that led to the resignation of the two editors Storch and Goodess. The paper is a meta-study, i.e. an examination of many previous published papers, a practice common in science journals and in the scientific community at large. The studies examined in the (4) SB 2003 paper are temperature reconstructions dating back 1000 years. The Soon meta-study asks three questions:

(1) Is there an objectively discernible climatic anomaly during the Little Ice Age interval (A.D. 1300–1900) in this proxy record?
(2) Is there an objectively discernible climatic anomaly during the Medieval Warm Period (A.D. 800–1300) in this proxy record?
(3) Is there an objectively discernible climatic anomaly within the 20th century that is the most extreme (the warmest, if such in-
formation is available)
period in the record?

The paper then lists 240 published studies of various temperature reconstructions, indicating “yes”, “no’, or “-” for each of the papers on the list. Here is the conclusion:

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