Monday, March 01, 2010

Climategate goes before Parliamentary Inquiry

Royal Society of Chemistry backs sharing of data in contrast to Jones “standard practice” statement

1 03 2010

While Dr. Phil Jones prattles on about withholding code and data being “standard practice” The Royal Society of Chemistry has made a statement to the Parliamentary inquiry saying they as an organization support open data sharing. They now join the Institute of Physics in making a strong statement on the practices of UEA/CRU.

http://www.ch.cam.ac.uk/events/openday/openday2003/rsc.gif

They write:

“…the benefits of scientific data being made available and thus open to scrutiny outweigh the perceived risks. To this end, scientific information should be made available on request as outlined in the Freedom of Information Act.”

Dr. Jones position of “standard practice” isn’t looking good. Not good at all.

Here’s the statement published on the UK parliament website:

Memorandum submitted by the Royal Society of Chemistry (CRU 42)

Source: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmsctech/memo/climatedata/uc4202.htm

Summary

· It is essential that the public and all non-specialists remain truly confident in the scientific method to provide a sound scientific evidence-base on which strong decisions can be made. Correspondingly, it is in the interest of scientists and the public that society as a whole has an understanding and an appreciation of science.

· Access to reliable, up-to-date information is vital to advancing research and enabling the discovery or development of solutions to global issues. Sharing information is especially important in multi-disciplinary research, where progress is very much dependent on willing and effective communication between different speciality areas.

· The RSC firmly believes that the benefits of scientific data being made available and thus open to scrutiny outweigh the perceived risks. To this end, scientific information should be made available on request as outlined in the Freedom of Information Act.

Submission

1. The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) welcomes the opportunity to submit formal written evidence to the consultation on the disclosure of climate change data from the climatic research unit at the University of East Anglia.

2. The RSC is the UK Professional Body for chemical scientists and an international Learned Society for advancing the chemical sciences. Supported by a network of over 46,000 members worldwide and an internationally acclaimed publishing business, our activities span education and training, conferences and science policy, and the promotion of the chemical sciences to the public.

3. The document has been written from the perspective of the Royal Society of Chemistry. It is noteworthy that the University of East Anglia is a member of the RSC Partnership Scheme, however this in no way constitutes a conflict of interest. The RSC’s Royal Charter obliges it “to serve the public interest” by acting in an independent advisory capacity, and we would therefore be very happy for this submission to be put into the public domain.

· What are the implications of the disclosures for the integrity of scientific research?

4. The apparent resistance of researchers from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia (UEA) to disclose research data has been widely portrayed as an indication of a lack of integrity in scientific research. The true nature of science dictates that research is transparent and robust enough to survive scrutiny. A lack of willingness to disseminate scientific information may infer that the scientific results or methods used are not robust enough to face scrutiny, even if this conjecture is not well-founded. This has far-reaching consequences for the reputation of science as a whole, with the ability to undermine the public’s confidence in science.

5. It is essential that the public and all non-specialists remain truly confident in the scientific method to provide a sound scientific evidence-base on which strong decisions can be made. Correspondingly, it is in the interest of scientists and the public that society as a whole has an understanding and an appreciation of science. The RSC strongly supports the dissemination of chemical knowledge to foster and encourage the growth and application of the chemical sciences, as stated in its Royal Charter. This includes the dissemination of scientific knowledge as a means to advance public understanding and the learning of science.

6. The dissemination of scientific information is central to progressing scientific developments, as it is based on a sound knowledge of preceding research.[1] Access to reliable, up-to-date information is vital to advancing research and enabling the discovery or development of solutions to global issues. Sharing information is especially important in multi-disciplinary research, where progress is very much dependent on willing and effective communication between different speciality areas.

7. It is also imperative that scientific information is made available to the wider community for scrutiny: the validity and essence of research relies upon its ability to stand up to review. In fact, advances in science frequently occur when the prevailing view is challenged by informed scepticism, this is fundamental to the scientific method and should be encouraged, even if controversial. The RSC firmly believes that the benefits of scientific data being made available and thus open to scrutiny outweigh the perceived risks. To this end, scientific information should be made available on request as outlined in the Freedom of Information Act. Furthermore, research needs to be presented in an accurate and reliable manner in the correct context in order to optimise this process. It may also be necessary to incorporate an independent auditing system into peer review with the ability to demand access to raw data sets to ensure best practices are being adhered to.

8. With the increased use of electronic media, access to information is widespread for scientists and the public alike. While this is a great benefit to society, the quality and validity of information available raises complex problems as valid scientific information and general opinion are presented side by side. The inability to decipher which information is legitimate, results in confusion, misinterpretation and may lead to mistrust of ’science’. There needs to be a clearer understanding in the public domain of what constitutes a reliable source, including an appreciation for the process that is used for disseminating research and the advantages of peer review.

9. The peer review system is central to the credibility of science: its purpose to prevent the dissemination of unwarranted claims and unacceptable interpretations. Formally published scientific research is subject to this authoritative process whereby a community of qualified, impartial experts examine the information and possess the ability to prevent publication. Authors generally protect their data until it has been peer-reviewed and published in a formal publication due to the competitive nature of research.

10. The issue of misinformation in the public domain must also be tackled. Just as the scientific community must be open with regard to their evidence base, those who disagree must also provide a clear and verifiable backing for their argument, if they wish their opinions to be given weight. When disagreements occur, the validity of the analysis must be established before credence can be given to any opinion. Increased understanding of the process of scientific research, firstly in the government, but also within the media and general public, is vital in order to foster a more open sharing of information.

11. Support from the scientific community is needed to provide context and to explain the process by which conclusions are reached. Encouraging scientists to openly engage with the public can only be achieved if researchers are given the necessary backing in the face of any unfounded arguments against their work. This support must come from the highest levels, sending out a strong message on the importance of scientific methodology and research and promoting open sharing of information between scientists and the wider community.

· Are the terms of reference and scope of the Independent Review announced on 3 December 2009 by UEA adequate?

12. The terms of reference and scope of the independent review are adequate, although some wider reaching aspects must also be examined. The effect on other researchers working in this area such as independent researchers, as well as those collaborating with CRU, should be explored. The impact of this incident on the public perception of the CRU and UEA as a whole should also be considered as a measuring stick for the implications of such actions in the public domain. The manner in which the findings from the items set out are interpreted and applied will determine their value.

13. As has been set out in the review, it is necessary to investigate the email exchanges which were discovered along with other relevant CRU information to establish whether data have been manipulated or suppressed. This is, not only needed in order to identify any unacceptable behaviour, but also to verify the results which have been published. This is vital in clarifying the severity of the acts carried out by those scientists at the CRU involved, i.e. whether it was a misguided protection of their work or a malicious misrepresentation of data.

14. The review of practices surrounding CRU’s use of peer review and dissemination of data should be used to shed light on how these comply with established best scientific practice. Any failings in this area should be examined in the context of the research methods used and any deviations should be assigned either to the individual researchers or to inadequate updating of the best practice to suit research in the digital age.[2] This will beget more valuable information on the motivation and the reasoning behind the conduct of researchers at CRU.

15. Research institutions should review established protocols regarding the management of, and access to, research data to ensure that they remain up to date and clear. This process must be developed in collaboration with researchers so that its importance can be understood. The current practices in CRU and UEA must be examined to ensure the unit and the institution fulfil public regulations and that they offer support to researchers to ensure compliance.

16. The review of the security issues surrounding the release of information is an important internal issue for CRU and UEA. Furthermore, the RSC supports investigations into the highly irregular manner in which information was obtained from the researchers.

· How independent are the other two international data sets?

17. From the information available, the RSC cannot comment on this issue.

Royal Society of Chemistry

February 2010

18 comments:

enthemic said...

This blog entry needs a "like" button, ala facebook.

enthemic said...

independent ipcc review coming too:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/27/science/earth/27climate.html

starcat said...

I'm not really sure what you think is going to happen here.
From the IOP:
"The Institute of Physics recently submitted a response to a House of Commons Science and Technology Committee call for evidence in relation to its inquiry into the disclosure of climate data from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.
The Institute's statement, which has been published both on the Institute's website and the Committee's, has been interpreted by some individuals to imply that it does not support the scientific evidence that the rising concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is contributing to global warming. That is not the case. The Institute's position on climate change is clear: the basic science is well enough understood to be sure that our climate is changing – and that we need to take action now to mitigate that change.
The Institute's response to the Committee inquiry was approved by its Science Board, a formal committee of the Institute with delegated authority from its trustees to oversee its policy work. It reflected our belief that the open exchange of data, procedures and materials is fundamental to the scientific process. From the information already in the public domain it appears that these principles have been put at risk in the present case, and that this has undermined the trust that is placed in the scientific process.
These comments, focused on the scientific process, should not be interpreted to mean that the Institute believes that the science itself is flawed."
http://www.iop.org/News/news_40679.html

I assume that the RSC feels exactly the same way. This is a matter of propriety and prestige; the data quality is not in doubt.

Kevin Aschim said...

Trouble is that if the data is withheld, nobody has any idea as to whether it is quality data or not. I am also given to understand that Phil Jones and his team either lost or destroyed either accidently, negligently or maliciously a great deal of raw data that went into their conclusions.

That aside, does any of the UEA CRU's show causation between CO2 and atmospheric warming?

If it does, then they need to disprove some very fundamental and long standing principles of physics. That being that CO2 bonds primarily absorb solar radiation at the 10 metre wavelength and that virtually 100% of that is already being absorbed. So the addition of more CO2 absorbs little if any additional heat.

"Laboratory measurements show that carbon dioxide saturates (absorbs to extinction) at its main peak in 10 meters under atmospheric conditions.* This means there is no radiation left at the peak frequencies after 10 meters."

http://www.nov55.com/ntyg.html

But even if additional heat was trapped by so called greenhouse gases, the vast majority of this heat is still re-radiated back into space either directly from the atmosphere or indirectly via ocean surfaces as proven by MIT's Alfred P. Sloan Professor Richard Lintzen.

http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/originals/co2_report_july_09.pdf

starcat said...

Hey Kevin, thanks for the response.
It should be remembered that over 95% of the UEA data is publicly available, more than enough to check the validity of their analysis. If you want the data sets that they aren't releasing, you can get them the same way UEA got them: asking the creators of the data sets nicely, then paying for them. Note: you may also be prohibited from making the data publicly available.

Also, you write "I am also given to understand that Phil Jones and his team either lost or destroyed either accidently, negligently or maliciously a great deal of raw data that went into their conclusions." While data loss is highly annoying and somewhat dismaying, you should remember that neither the UEA nor CRU created the data, nor are they the principle repositories of it. All the original raw data can still be obtained elsewhere, such as the GHCN, or else directly from the source.

In addition, the HadCRU data corresponds well with GISS and the NCDC, both of which have full disclosure of both their raw data and their code. They are also in agreement with the MSU satellite data, whether the reconstruction is RSS or UAH.

starcat said...

As for the greenhouse effect, saturation, and temp response, you are labouring under a very common misunderstanding. I'll probably mangle this, but here goes...
1) A few things that will be good to keep in mind: What matters saturation-wise is how close to the *top* of the atmosphere longwave IR is emitted to space for a particular frequency. The energy of the outgoing radiation corresponds to the temp the air is at; due to the lapse rate the air is cooler the higher you go in the troposphere.
2) It is true that in CO2's main absorption/emission line the atmosphere is saturated, meaning not only that LW is absorbed quickly, but also that it is emitted to space at around the tropopause (the coldest the atm gets).
3) But CO2 also absorbs/emits at freqs on either side of the main line, with capability roughly dropping off exponentially on either side. This means that as you add more CO2, the atmosphere will still optically thicken at those freqs.
4) The more optically thick the air is, the higher/colder/less energetic the radiation to space will be emitted. Adding more CO2 will definitely increase the LW opacity, decreasing emissions.
5) This means that the Earth will be absorbing more thermal energy than it emits. The air *must* warm in this situation, and the surface along with it, until TE is reached.
6) B/c the only way we lose energy to space is from black-body emissions, the top of the atmosphere equilibrium becomes all important in working out the general response to increased GHGs. Doubling CO2 (w/out feedback) increases heating by about 4 W/m2, which works out to about 1.2K.
7) The biggest feedback comes from water. As RH stays generally the same, a 1.2K increase will also increase water vapour. Water is currently responsible for roughly 2/3rds of the current warming, entailing that the climate sensitivity will be greater than 1.2K/2xCO2.
8) The surface energy budget is very important, of course, for determining weather and local responses to that increased energy. Important to the ToA temps are convection, wind shear, and cloud formation, all of which can provide both positive and negative feedback. Due to the uncertainty of our understanding of these, climate sensitivity is said to be constrained between 2-4.5K, with a median value around 3K (Lindzen, whom you mention, favors a figure around 2K: he acknowledges warming, but thinks that some of the factors are a little high, and the future won't be that bad.)
9) Importantly, the Ocean transfers a lot of surface heat into the deep. Over 90% of energy "trapped" by GHGs will go into the Ocean. This introduces a considerable lag between climate forcing from *any* source, whether the Sun or GHG, and increased surface air temps. Approximately, this lag works out to around 30 years (though the math is more complicated than that).
10) Quick calc, for 30 yr lags: 1980 CO2 conc = 338 ppm. Climate sensitivity of 2.7K/2xCO2. Yields for 2010 a temp anomaly (over pre-industrial temps) of .73K. This is in agreement with the actual warming of .7-.8K. "In the pipe" warming for the next 30 yrs worked out from today's CO2 concentration of 389 ppm = ~.55K, or ~.18K/dec. This is comparable to warming over the last 30 years of .16k/dec.
11) Given that warming is actually quite slow (< .02k/yr), and weather variability quite large (sigma ~.1K/yr), we would expect large variability in the temp record, and therefore require long time spans to determine significant trends. In other words, we would expect that over 15 years a warming trend would show in the data, but we would not yet expect it to reach the level of statistical significance.

12) In light of all this, not only is there "...causation between CO2 and atmospheric warming...", but HadCRU/UEA data are well matched with expectations from atmospheric physics.

araon said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
and then the_doctor said...

I posted the IOP's letter because I thought it was an eloquent.

I no longer have the patience to debate the profound problems with GISS and HADCRU data sets (which are subsets of the same inaccurate network so it's hardly news they agree!)

If you want to believe that a minute part of the spectrum affecting a minute part of the atmosphere is causing catastrophic problems, go ahead. The mechanisms you describe didn't seem to apply in the past when skyrocketing CO2 accompanied temperature declines.

While AGW theory uses and predicts increasing water vapor feedbacks to account for rising temps, the atmosphere has shown consistent declining humidity at all pressure gradients.

AGW theory doesn't agree with observations. On the ground or in the air.

starcat said...

It has come to my attention that in my desire to show that CO2 forcing is in the general ballpark of the temp change we see today, I have also given the impression that I believe that only CO2 affects temp.
This is not so. The Sun, albedo effects, aerosols, other GHGs, black carbon, land use changes (etc) all affect global temp. It's just that since 1950, they tend to cancel each other out.
http://data.giss.nasa.gov/modelforce/
http://www.globalwarmingart.com/wiki/File:Climate_Change_Attribution_png

Regarding some recent alleged problems with the Data sets, you may want to read this: http://rankexploits.com/musings/2010/timeline-of-the-march-of-the-thermometers-meme/

As for the subset that lies at the heart of the temp data sets, it's the GHCN. This is merely the raw data sent in from the particpating world weather stations. I hope I'm not reading you correctly; it seems like you are saying you mistrust weather stations to properly report their raw data to the GHCN.

When you disparage the "minute part" that CO2 plays, I take it you are disagreeing with Kevin when he quotes that "This means there is no radiation left at the peak frequencies after 10 meters." This is a measurement, and I don't believe that you think people are lying about it. So I guess I'm confused.

I'm also confused when you write "...skyrocketing CO2 accompanied temperature declines." You can't possibly mean this, for you don't believe the temp record; there is no way for you to assert that temps have declined.
Also, I have no idea what you could possibly be referring to; the only time in the last 3 million years when CO2 has "skyrocketed" has been in the last 100 years, when temps have increased an order of magnitude faster than when the ice age ended.

Your 2nd last para has me scratching my head. Are you asserting that absolute humidity does not increase with rising temps? That AH increases, but such that RH falls? If so, please supply link, as I've only heard of one paper that pertains to the issue of relatively constant RH across temp changes. Or maybe I'm misunderstanding you completely here.

"AGW theory" is definitely in agreement with observations (cf my 2nd link). Recently, when UAH satellite observations were in disagreement with theory, it turned out that the Sat analysis was in error. UAH and RSS are both in agreement with theory. And the surface record.
Multiple lines of evidence (weather data, sat data, math/theory, summer sea ice retreat, glacier melt, sea level rise, spring snow decline, permafrost thaw, ocean acidification, stratosphere cooling, Al Gore's waistline, etc) all pointing to the same verdict form a remarkably robust theory. It isn't going to fail because of an occasional mistake in a 3000 page paper or the delusions of competency from over-imaginative weathermen.

Vincent said...

I specifically disauthorize any "action" on this issue by any institution whose members might be under the impression that they have such authorization from me.

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Word, RSC.

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