Zombie Science: Gergis et al disinterred for remake

Posted: March 31, 2014 by tallbloke in Analysis, climate, Dataset, Maths, Measurement, methodology, Natural Variation

My thanks to Tony Thomas for giving the talkshop the exclusive of his take on this breaking news item:

Gergis findings re-surface – the Hockey Stick lives!

By Tony Thomas 31-03-2014

josh-gergisHello again Hockey Stick, goodbye global Medieval Warming Period.

These are the conclusions of a multi-proxy 1000-year climate reconstruction published today (March 31) in Nature Climate Change, by Dr Raphael Neukom of the Oeschger Centre at the University of Bern, and Dr Joelle Gergis of the University of Melbourne.

Dr  Neukom   summed up for a University of Melbourne press release:

The study showed the ‘Medieval Warm Period’, as identified in some European chronicles, was a regional phenomenon. 

During the same period, temperatures in the Southern Hemisphere were only average. Our study revealed it was not a common climate event that many people have previously assumed.

The paper claims that in 99.7 percent of the results, the warmest decade of the millennium occurred after 1970.

The press release says,“And surprisingly, only twice over the entire past millennium have both hemispheres simultaneously shown extreme temperatures.

One of these occasions was a global cold period in the 17th century; the other was the current warming phase”.”[1]

The paper’s content has had a convoluted history. It appeared on-line at Nature Climate Change about May 17, 2012, with Gergis cited as the lead author.[2] The multiple authors, who included IPCC stalwart Dr David Karoly, withdrew it three weeks later after an altercation with blogger Steve McIntyre, who had spotted that it used invalid statistical techniques, involving the ‘screening fallacy’.

Moreover, Dr Gergis, a la Michael Mann and Phil Jones, was loathe to provide McIntyre with the raw data for checking,  citing third-party confidentialities. She told McIntyre to go seek the data from the third parties:

“The compilation of this database represents years of our research effort based on the development of our professional networks. We risk damaging our work relationships by releasing other people’s records against their wishes. Clearly this is something that we are not prepared to do.”

She then added,  “This is commonly referred to as ‘research’. We will not be entertaining any further correspondence on the matter.”[3]

The Nature Climate Change paper, as  described by the University of Melbourne press release, has Neukom as the lead author, and Gergis as co-author. The release says,

A new international study has published the most comprehensive Southern Hemisphere reconstruction of past climate records, revealing a clearer climate picture of the globe’s temperature history than ever before.

The study revealed that over the past 1000 years temperature variations have differed greatly between the two hemispheres, yet it confirmed they shared the one warm period after the 1970s.

Led by the Oeschger Centre at the University of Bern, the Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL and the University of Melbourne, the study Inter-hemispheric temperature variability over the past millennium was published today in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Co-author Dr Joelle Gergis, ARC Fellow from the University of Melbourne, said the study finally put the Southern Hemisphere on the map in terms of recording past climate variations over the past 1000 years.

Our findings showed there were considerable decade-to-decade regional temperature variations in the Southern Hemisphere, that were different to the Northern Hemisphere

The Southern Hemisphere is a vast oceanic region that is influenced by ocean circulation features such as El Niño. Our study showed that these internal climate cycles may have played a role in influencing regional climate compared to the land-dominated Northern Hemisphere, where external changes in volcanic and solar variations have a more direct influence.

But despite the two hemispheres behaving differently over the past 1000 years, what is consistent is the recent warming in the last 40 years.
This study provided an opportunity to refine regional climate model predictions in the Southern Hemisphere for countries like Australia and South America by extending our understanding of natural temperature variations recorded since 1850 back over the past 1000 years.

The study involved the coordination of an international scientific team with expertise in past climate information from tree-rings, lake sediments, corals, ice cores and climate modelling. 

Scientists compiled climate data from hundreds of different locations and used a range of methods to estimate Southern Hemisphere temperatures over the past 1000 years…. 

The study showed that regional differences such as these were larger than previously thought.

As far as I can establish, pending clarification from the University of Melbourne,  Neukom, Gergis et al reworked the maths in their original paper and re-submitted it to the Journal of Climate some time ago, but it has not reappeared there.

Meanwhile, the paper’s underlying data, allegedly certified by an independent team of scientists, was incorporated in a paper by third parties in Nature Geosciences in April 2013.  Today’s release is in Nature Climate Change, and bears a strong family resemblance to the original  Gergis/Neukom exercise.

Melbourne-based Tony Thomas writes for Quadrant.org.au.


[1] http://newsroom.melbourne.edu/news/new-southern-hemisphere-climate-data-provides-clearer-global-picture-0

[2] http://newsroom.melbourne.edu/news/n-813

[3] http://climateaudit.org/2012/05/31/myles-allen-calls-for-name-and-shame/

  1. omnologos says:

    If this were to collapse like the previous one, we could call it fraud.

  2. Konrad says:

    If they have screened out or under weighted the Law Dome ice core data again then it could only be fraud.

  3. johnbuk says:

    No doubt, to demonstrate their 99% confidence in this paper the underlying research will be released for perusal?

  4. tallbloke says:

    Don’t hold your breath.

  5. Don B says:

    Steve McIntyre:

    Neukom, Gergis and Karoly, accompanied by a phalanx of protective specialists, have served up a plate of cold screened spaghetti in today’s Nature (announced by Gergis here).

    Gergis et al 2012 (presently in a sort of zombie withdrawal) had foundered on ex post screening. Neukom, Gergis and Karoly + 2014 take ex post screening to a new and shall-we-say unprecedented level. This will be the topic of today’s post.


  6. johnbuk says:

    According to SM it seems as if the confidence levels aren’t that high at present as the data has not yet been filed with “Nature”. Still, as I’m “holding my breath” I won’t be contributing any further deadly chemicals into the atmosphere. I hope they hurry up.

  7. oldbrew says:

    Secret data, public result. Fail.

  8. Alexander K says:

    Once again, nonsense on steroids from this lot.

  9. p.g.sharrow says:

    If it ain’t public, it ain’t science. Not information, just opinion. pg

  10. Konrad says:

    Comments at ClimateAudit indicate that only new Law Dome salt records were used, not the O18 record. Add to that that Nature Climate Change thought it was A-OK to publish without being in possession of the underlying data (SI), and that they decided to issue a press release to announce the shameful publication.

    There can be only one conclusion – lies and propaganda.

    Steve McIntyre knows what they have done. They are now doomed if they withhold their SI and doomed if they release it. They are trapped in enemy airspace with no way to flee. The Grey Baron will send them down with a quick burst from the stats cannon. The hexolite shells are merely a courtesy detail 😉

  11. tallbloke says:

    Konrad: Good summary. Could take a while. I expect Nature will prevaricate, procrastinate, and finally raise the white flag on this one.

  12. daveginoly says:

    “This is commonly referred to as ‘research’.”
    And isn’t “research” commonly published in support of “conclusions”?