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More Disinformation From New Scientist About Climategate

New Scientist has used the occasion of CRU’s release of CRUTEM station data in response to the ICO’s rejection of CRU excuses to disseminate further disinformation about the Climategate dossier.

Anyone can now view for themselves the raw data that was at the centre of last year’s “climategate” scandal.

The Climategate dossier is about the Hockey Stick, not the CRUTEM temperature record. CRUTEM is mentioned in only a few emails. Muir Russell’s list of common words in the emails (p 147) doesn’t list CRUTEM, but, according to this list, Yamal is mentioned 100 times. While I had an outstanding FOI request for CRUTEM data in 2009, the primary concern of Climate Audit has been with proxy reconstructions, rather than the temperature record.

Trevor Davies is quoted as follows:

“We released [the dataset] to dispel the myths that the data have been inappropriately manipulated, and that we are being secretive,” says Trevor Davies, the university’s pro-vice-chancellor for research. “Some sceptics argue we must have something to hide, and we’ve released the data to pull the rug out from those who say there isn’t evidence that the global temperature is increasing.”

The reason why the station data should be released (and should have been released long ago) is that the global temperature index is an important statistic and the calculation of that statistic should be transparent and verifiable. End of story. It is even possible that even climate scientists might be interested in back-up for a data set that is so heavily relied upon by IPCC and the community. Getting the data into public domain should have been done long ago by the “community”.

Nor should availability of the back-up data be dependent on the whim of an individual professor at a minor UK university. Nor should either East Anglia or the “community” be content with a system that permitted said professor to send back-up data to his pals (usually in exchange for an expected citation in a resulting article) while refusing to send the back-up data to potential critics.

If Davies’ concern is to “dispel the myths that the data have been inappropriately manipulated, and that we are being secretive”, then they should have released the data long ago when originally requested. In addition, CRU/UEA should not have recently refused an FOI request the 2006 Yamal regional chronology – a topic that actually was at issue in the Climategate dossier and which none of the “investigations” investigated.

I, for one, am very concerned that tree ring data has been “inappropriately manipulated” and that the unreported 2006 URALS/Yamal regional chronology does not show the same story as the bare Yamal chronology reported by CRU. If CRU doesn’t want to look “secretive”, then produce the 2006 regional chronology.

As to whether temperature is higher now than in the 19th century, I, for one, have consistently taken this position. The larger question has been whether it is warmer now than in the Medieval Warm Period or the Holocene Optimum. I don’t even preclude the possibility that it is warmer now than the Medieval Warm Period – my complaint is that the canonical proxy reconstructions don’t prove the point. This doesn’t mean that the point couldn’t be established using better proxies and analysis. An entirely different point (that is often lost both by critics and supporters.)

The New Scientist continues:

Temperature records going back 150 years from 5113 weather stations around the world were yesterday released to the public by the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK. The only records missing are from 19 stations in Poland, which refused to allow them to be made public.

Davies adds:

Davies’s only worry is that the decision to release the Trinidad and Tobago data against its wishes may discourage the open sharing of data in the future. Other research organisations may from now on be reluctant to pool data they wish to be kept private.

The Data

A list of the 5113 stations is at http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temperature/station-data/headers.txt. Two versions of the data are online (Hadley http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/media/zip/e/0/station_files.20110720.zip and CRU). I’ve collated the information into R-objects and uploaded them to www.climateaudit.info/data/station/cru/2011. The cru-object is a list of 5113 time series. The info-object is a data frame of metadata (5113 rows).

In response to Willis Eschenbach’s prior FOI request in 2007, CRU released a list of 4138 stations (http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/landstations/crustnsused.txt). While the difference between the 4138 stations then and 5113 stations now may not “matter”, it would be nice which list is the one that is actually used. (This may be an edition change since the original FOI.)

Poland

Although the New Scientist article (and a recent realclimate post) say that Polish data has been excluded, the new data includes the following eight Polish stations:

“ELBING” “SZCZECIN/DABIE” “BIALYSTOK” “POZNAN/LAWICA” “LEGIONOWO” “WARSAW-OKECIE” “WROCLAW-STRACHOWICE” “KRAKOW”

It excludes the following twelve Polish stations (listed in the prior FOI request):

“KOSZALIN” “GDANSK/REBEICHOWO” “SUWALKI” “TORUN” “ZIELONA GORA” “KLODZKO” “OPOLE” “CZESTOCHOWA” “SANDOMIERZ” “ZAMOSC” “ZAKOPANE” “PRZEMYSL”

Is there a reason why they published eight Polish stations, while not publishing the other twelve? Or, out of general klutziness, did they inadvertently publish data for the twelve, while intending not to? Or is the mole at work again? One never knows.

A reader has taken the present Polish refusal as evidence of a previous confidentiality agreement. However, there is no evidence of a prior confidentiality agreement. CRU’s Polish data appears to be derived from GHCN and CLIMAT, rather than directly from the NMS. (The form of the station names strongly suggests this to me as it matches GHCN forms. When CRU used NMS data directly, as with Canada and Australia, the form of station nomenclature varies from GHCN forms).

Other Omissions

CRU says that the omissions in the present data are limited to Polish data. This is not exactly right. There are 26 stations in the former FOI list than are not in the present list, of which only 12 are from Poland. Other apparent omissions come from Germany (2 – MAGDEBURG,BROCKEN) ; Yugoslavia (SKOPJE) ; USA (3 – FAIRBANKS/EXP STAT., CORPUS CHRISTI, NEW YORK) ; Canada ( 6- RIDGETOWN, BELLEVILLE, NITCHEQUON, MORDEN, WASECA, CHESTERFIELD), Mexico (1 – TACUBAYA U/A) and Japan (1 – TITIZIMA/CHICHIJIMA). While the omissions probably don’t “matter”, it’s always hard to figure out the algorithm by which they go AWOL.

Trinidad/Tobago

The CRU data set includes one station from Trinidad/Tobago: “PIARCO INTL A”, which Davies says has been released against Trinidad’s wishes. Data for Piarco International Airport is readily available on the internet (see Wundergroud here). So one wonders precisely what has been objected to.

If CRU were seriously worried about offending Trinidad/Tobago, then surely they should have considered this before their many previous disclosures of Trinidad/Tobago data. CRU disclosed this data to the US Department of Energy, who placed this data online at CDIAC as early as 1991. See http://cdiac.ornl.gov/ftp/ndp020/jones. If CRU had a confidentiality agreement with Trinidad/Tobago, they first started violating it in 1991 and continued to do so subsequently.

If Davies is worried about the impact of confidentiality violations on international exchange of data, then he should immediately begin an investigation of CRU’s prior violations of these agreements.

Climate Audit, 31 July 2011