Climategate News: Jones on climate data

BBC has an article up titled “Climate data “not well organized”.

Here’s an excerpt:

Phil Jones, the professor behind the “Climategate” affair, has admitted some of his decades-old weather data was not well enough organised.

He said this contributed to his refusal to share raw data with critics – a decision he says he regretted.

But Professor Jones said he had not cheated the data, or unfairly influenced the scientific process.

He said he stood by the view that recent climate warming was most likely predominantly man-made.

But he agreed that two periods in recent times had experienced similar warming. And he agreed that the debate had not been settled over whether the Medieval Warm Period was warmer than the current period.

Let’s watch the blogs to see how much coverage that gets.

Here’s more from the article:

Professor Jones agreed that scientists on both sides of the debate could suffer sometimes from a “bunker mentality”.

He said “sceptics” who doubted his climate record should compile their own dataset from material publicly available in the US.

“The major datasets mostly agree,” he said. “If some of our critics spent less time criticising us and prepared a dataset of their own, that would be much more constructive.”

His colleagues said that keeping a paper trail was not one of Professor Jones’ strong points. Professor Jones told BBC News: “There is some truth in that.

“We do have a trail of where the (weather) stations have come from but it’s probably not as good as it should be,” he admitted.

This is what I figured when I first read about these refusals to turn over data to skeptics. If you know people are out to poke holes in your work, and your work is correct but sloppy, you might hesitate to do so until it can be cleaned up.  A fellow scientist might overlook sloppiness especially if you were collaborating on work.

He goes on to argue that scientists need to do more to communicate why they support AGW and that more openess with data is forthcoming.  He also defended the use of the term “trick” and argued that it had been spun by critics.

Finally, he says this:

“I have no agenda,” he said.

“I’m a scientist trying to measure temperature. If I registered that the climate has been cooling I’d say so. But it hasn’t until recently – and then barely at all. The trend is a warming trend.”

He said many people had been made sceptical about climate change by the snow in the northern hemisphere – but they didn’t realise that the satellite record from the University of Alabama in Huntsville showed that January had been the warmest month since records began in 1979.

I’ll post responses in the blogosphere below.

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19 Responses to “Climategate News: Jones on climate data”

  1. Do you really believe Jones when he says he has no agenda? It’s laughable.

    In the emails Jones wrote that he hoped the temps would rise so the science would be proven right. In other words, he is willing for the planet to have catastrophic consequences as long as he is seen as right.

    Someday we will have a surface temp record we can trust. We do not have that now.

    • Ron, if McIntyre can claim he does everything in good faith, then surely we can allow Jones to claim the same thing.

      Everyone has agendas. An agenda could be to gather data and see where it leads. Another agenda could be to poke holes in the data to raise doubt. The question is whether they implement those agendas in their work or whether they let the data speak for itself.

      As to Jones’ comment in the emails, not so smart, but seriously, if he was manipulating the data to show warming that wasn’t there, he wouldn’t have to say that, would he?

      I think he’s convinced AGW is real and is happening and it appears he was just hoping that the evidence would show itself so the world would know that warming is happening.

      If he’s right and if AGW is real but it’s hidden temporarily behind some natural variation or through the effect of aerosols, people could be complacent and ignore it, thinking global warming has “stopped” or isn’t a problem.

      If AGW is real and if temps could rise higher than 2C, and people keep ignoring it due to a temp leveling off, it could mean less time to respond and then worse consequences in the long run.

      • Susann,
        I take people at face value until their actions prove to me that I cannot continue.

        I would be happy to take Jones for face value if he was willing to abide by the standards of science. The minute he refuses to provide data, methods and code to anyone who asks for them, he becomes a pseudoscientist and not a scientist.

        Ask McIntyre for any of his code and he will post it online, if he has not already done so.

        • Ron, I have asked you before to forget about me and focus instead on the evidence.

          Despite what you may conclude, I do want to see the evidence pro and con, but so far, nothing I have seen is capable of defeating the science or providing me with any reason to become a skeptic. It’s useful for trash talk and smear, but it holds no scientific weight.

          You obviously don’t know what a pseudoscientist or pseudoscience is if you’re calling Jones one. I know it’s a useful epithet to throw around to rouse the rabble and incite the ignorant but it won’t work here. The pseudoscientists are the ones you keep linking to and supporting — like Watts, Pilke, Singer, and the like. They package up BS with a pretty ribbon and bow and think it’ll pass as a present. It only fools the gullible or ignorant.

          McIntyre has no data with the exception of some tree ring cores which he did only to prove a point, and not at all for legitimate scientific purposes. All his data came from actual researchers and scientists who did the work or the analysis. He’s admitted that he’s not interested in replicating the work — he’s looking for errors. He’s a self-appointed auditor with no background in science and no credibility with most climate scientists.

          • Susann,
            This is a personal blog… started as the policy lass who was put in the penalty box at CA. It is all about you. Its about your views and your personal attacks on skeptical scientists.

            You are unwilling to grant the point whenever the skeptics win. For example, everyone admits science is supposed to be open. The investigation led by Muir Russell even pays lip service to the point, but you are still trying to argue McIntyre is not worthy of seeing the data. You are really embarrassing yourself with by expressing these views.

            Regarding McIntyre, he almost always posts his code… I’m not talking about data, but code here. This is one of the things McIntyre is always asking for and Jones and Hansen everyone refused for a long time. McIntyre is winning this debate now and more and more people are making code and data available.

            • Yes, it’s a personal blog but I am not the subject. The subject is everything surrounding the science – news, other blog commentary, papers, theories — whatever. Point out errors in logic or conclusions I have, sure, or show where inaccuracies occur but seriously, the point of the blog was not to talk about me.

              Based on what I have seen, the “skeptics” — and I write that with scary quotes on purpose — haven’t “won” anything except the PR war, and only that because they have few scruples and have stooped to personal attacks and smears and lies and obfuscations and overstatements because they can’t attack the science.

              Most of the temperature data and code has been archived openly for quite a while and nothing has happened to undermine the science. Show me where any skeptic review of the temperature data has undermined the science of global warming or discredited the record, then we can talk.

              • Susann,
                Wrong. The personal attacks always come from the alarmists. I read things like this:

                “Did you know that skeptic x gave a speech at a think tank and earned a speaking fee, and that think tank gets more from a foundation that accepted a contribution from Exxon? That skeptic is sooo dirty!”

                That is a personal attack. It has nothing whatever to do with that the skeptic said or his research. It assumes the skeptic knew who was gave money to the think tank and who gave money to the foundation. It also assumes people care. It is just ridiculous.

                When I say Phil Jones is a pseudoscientist because he refused to share his data, methods and code, I am basically stating a tautology. Pseudoscientists are people who pretend to be doing science but refuse to abide by the standards of science, especially allowing others to access their data, methods and code. Jones admits is was a mistake not to be more open now, but that does not change anything. He was a pseudoscientist for years and he will say whatever is necessary to try to get his old job back again.

              • Susann,
                You asked me to show you where “any skeptic review of the temperature data has undermined the science of global warming or discredited the record.”

                I would like to point you to

                Without NASA finally sharing some of their code, we never would have known about the many stations being left out of their computer calculations.

                EM Smith has a followup guest post on Wattsupwiththat at


                • There we go, Ron again pointing to the highly flawed analysis of Watts, Smith and D’Aleo.
                  People have done with the data what these guys should have done, and found *exactly the opposite* (see Menne et al. 2010).

                  Just take the example that NASA has *no control* over the stations used in the GHCN, and yet these ‘skeptics’ claim NASA dropped these stations to generate a warming trend (without doing the data analysis, of course). Now Smith throws the blame to NOAA…

                  When do you start recognising the frauds, Ron?

  2. Here is the Q&A:

    Not all of the article quotes or assertions appear in the interview transcript. Example: “But he agreed that two periods in recent times had experienced similar warming.”

    There’s no quote from Jones indicating this in the interview, and I suspect deniers will use quote the BBC article regardless. In fact, his interview specifically mentions that there is not evidence to indicate that a MWP existed at all globally, due to sparse coverage in the southern hemisphere and tropical regions. I wonder if this is based on his earlier work, where this was certainly true.

    Recent study:

    Global Signatures and Dynamical
    Origins of the Little Ice Age and
    Medieval Climate Anomaly
    Michael E. Mann,1* Zhihua Zhang,1 Scott Rutherford,2 Raymond S. Bradley,3
    Malcolm K. Hughes,4 Drew Shindell,5 Caspar Ammann,6 Greg Faluvegi,5 Fenbiao Ni4

    Click to access MannetalScience09.pdf

    There are other recent studies suggesting the tropical Pacific had a persistent la Nina-like pattern (cooler).

    Regarding the quote on critics preparing their own dataset (again, not in the interview), I suspect skeptics have attempted their own global mean temperature product at some point, but have found they can’t spin it any cooler without being caught. We know that Spencer and Christy have had a history of grossly underestimating the satellite trends, but errors were less obvious than I think they would be in a surface product.

  3. Susann,
    One of the most interesting points about the Jones interview was his comments regarding the Hockey Stick.

    Earlier, Michael Mann had thrown Jones under the bus by saying it was wrong of Jones to ask him and others to delete emails. True.

    Now it Jones’s turn. Quoting from the article you linked.

    “But he (Jones) agreed that two periods in recent times had experienced similar warming. And he agreed that the debate had not been settled over whether the Medieval Warm Period was warmer than the current period.”

    Again, this is true. It is also highly entertaining to watch the once monolithic consensus crumbling under our eyes as Jones and Mann struggle to throw each other under the bus in order to save themselves.

    • Ron, the MWP argument is over the geographical and temporal range of the phenomena. On that score the argument clearly is not settled. Mann has just published the first systematic study of this. I am sure that there will be more to follow as more proxies are developed.

      FWIW, the Mann article seems to uphold the consensus view that the MWP was a North Atlantic event and that some areas in this zone did experience warmth approaching or above mid-20th century levels. Nothing terribly surprising here.

      • Rattus,
        Perhaps you did not read what Jones said. Jones did not put any limitations on the debate, such as the “northern hemisphere” or anything. The debate is whether the global temps during the MWP were as warm or warmer than today. Jones said the debate was not settled.

        The Mann Hockey Stick clearly showed todays temps as higher than the MWP. This was a clear slap in the face of Mann.

        • Let’s see what Mann wrote in MBH98:

          As larger numbers of high-quality proxy reconstructions become available in diverse regions of the globe, it may be possible to
          assimilate a more globally representative multiproxy data network. Given the high level of skill possible in large-scale reconstruction back to 1400 with the present network, it is reasonable to hope that it may soon be possible to faithfully reconstruct mean global temperatures back over the entire millennium, resolving for example the enigmatic medieval period.

          He cites Hughes and Diaz (1994) who state:

          Taken together, the available evidence does not support a global Medieval Warm Period, although more support for such a phenomenon could be drawn from high-elevation records than from low-elevation records.

          Doesn’t sound as if anyone was denying that there is debate over whether there was a MWP, and whether it was global or regional. The available data does not allow one to conclude with certainty that there was a global MWP but more proxy records and better proxy records from other regions could help clarify that debate.

        • “The debate is whether the global temps during the MWP were as warm or warmer than today. Jones said the debate was not settled.”

          The best evidence clearly indicates today’s temperatures are higher than MWP. It’s a matter of statistical confidence, though. Mann used the word “likely” to describe the 1990s in comparison to the past millenium in the early study, which isn’t definitive. With another decade 0.2 C warmer than the last and more and better proxies, confidence increases somewhat. See my answer to Susan’s recent post which puts the recent decade at 95% confidence being the warmest. Spin it as you like, and I’m sure the denial crowd is, but there’s nothing inconsistent with what Jones said.

    • Ron, stop your attempts in twisting the words of people:
      Note especially the last sentence, which contains a very important qualifier.

      “There is much debate over whether the Medieval Warm Period was global in extent or not. The MWP is most clearly expressed in parts of North America, the North Atlantic and Europe and parts of Asia. For it to be global in extent the MWP would need to be seen clearly in more records from the tropical regions and the Southern Hemisphere. There are very few palaeoclimatic records for these latter two regions.

      Of course, if the MWP was shown to be global in extent and as warm or warmer than today (based on an equivalent coverage over the NH and SH) then obviously the late-20th century warmth would not be unprecedented. On the other hand, if the MWP was global, but was less warm that today, then current warmth would be unprecedented.

      We know from the instrumental temperature record that the two hemispheres do not always follow one another. We cannot, therefore, make the assumption that temperatures in the global average will be similar to those in the northern hemisphere.”

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