Treemometers: A new scientific scandal

If a peer review fails in the woods...


Hokey hockey sticks

Mann too used dendrochronology to chill temperatures, and rebuffed attempts to publish his measurement data. Initially he said he had forgotten where he put it, then declined to disclosed it. (Some of Mann's data was eventually discovered, by accident, on his ftp server in a directory entitled 'BACKTO_1400-CENSORED'.)

Tree data was secondary in importance to Mann's statistical technique, which would produce a dramatic modern upturn in temperatures - which became nicknamed the "Hockey Stick" - even using red noise.

Similarly, all the papers that used the Yamal data have the same point to make. All suggest recent dramatic warming. Having scored a global hit with a combination of flawed statistics and dubious dendroclimatology, the acts repeated the formula.

"Late 20th century warmth is unprecedented for at least roughly the past two millennia for the Northern Hemisphere," wrote the two authors of Global Surface Temperatures over the Past Two Millennia published in Geophysical Research Letters in 2003 - Mann, and Phil Jones of CRU.

For example, Briffa's 2008 paper concludes that: "The extent of recent widespread warming across northwest Eurasia, with respect to 100- to 200-year trends, is unprecedented in the last 2000 years."

The same authors in 2004:

It continues to this day. A study purporting to show the Arctic was warmer now than for 2,000 years received front-page attention last month. Led by Northern Arizona University professor Darrell S Kaufman, and including dendro veteran Mann, this too relied heavily on Yamal, and produced the signature shape.

Now here's Yamal.

And when Yamal is plotted against the wider range of cores, the implications of the choice is striking:

A comparison of Yamal RCS chronologies. red - as archived with 12 picked cores; black - including Schweingruber's Khadyta River, Yamal (russ035w) archive and excluding 12 picked cores. Both smoothed with 21-year gaussian smooth. y-axis is in dimensionless chronology units centered on 1 (as are subsequent graphs (but represent age-adjusted ring width).

"The majority of these trees (like the Graybill bristlecones) have a prolonged growth pulse (for whatever reason) starting in the 19th century," wrote Canadian mathematician Steve McIntyre on his blog on Sunday. "When a one-size fits all age profile is applied to these particular tries, the relatively vigorous growth becomes monster growth - 8 sigma anomalies in some of them."

McIntyre's determination to reproduce the reconstructions has resulted in the Yamal data finally coming to light.

All the papers come from a small but closely knit of scientists who mutually support each other's work. All use Yamal data. And without the Yamal data, the temperature record shows a very different shape.

Next page: What went wrong?

Similar topics

Broader topics


Other stories you might like

  • Lonestar plans to put datacenters in the Moon's lava tubes
    How? Founder tells The Register 'Robots… lots of robots'

    Imagine a future where racks of computer servers hum quietly in darkness below the surface of the Moon.

    Here is where some of the most important data is stored, to be left untouched for as long as can be. The idea sounds like something from science-fiction, but one startup that recently emerged from stealth is trying to turn it into a reality. Lonestar Data Holdings has a unique mission unlike any other cloud provider: to build datacenters on the Moon backing up the world's data.

    "It's inconceivable to me that we are keeping our most precious assets, our knowledge and our data, on Earth, where we're setting off bombs and burning things," Christopher Stott, founder and CEO of Lonestar, told The Register. "We need to put our assets in place off our planet, where we can keep it safe."

    Continue reading
  • Conti: Russian-backed rulers of Costa Rican hacktocracy?
    Also, Chinese IT admin jailed for deleting database, and the NSA promises no more backdoors

    In brief The notorious Russian-aligned Conti ransomware gang has upped the ante in its attack against Costa Rica, threatening to overthrow the government if it doesn't pay a $20 million ransom. 

    Costa Rican president Rodrigo Chaves said that the country is effectively at war with the gang, who in April infiltrated the government's computer systems, gaining a foothold in 27 agencies at various government levels. The US State Department has offered a $15 million reward leading to the capture of Conti's leaders, who it said have made more than $150 million from 1,000+ victims.

    Conti claimed this week that it has insiders in the Costa Rican government, the AP reported, warning that "We are determined to overthrow the government by means of a cyber attack, we have already shown you all the strength and power, you have introduced an emergency." 

    Continue reading
  • China-linked Twisted Panda caught spying on Russian defense R&D
    Because Beijing isn't above covert ops to accomplish its five-year goals

    Chinese cyberspies targeted two Russian defense institutes and possibly another research facility in Belarus, according to Check Point Research.

    The new campaign, dubbed Twisted Panda, is part of a larger, state-sponsored espionage operation that has been ongoing for several months, if not nearly a year, according to the security shop.

    In a technical analysis, the researchers detail the various malicious stages and payloads of the campaign that used sanctions-related phishing emails to attack Russian entities, which are part of the state-owned defense conglomerate Rostec Corporation.

    Continue reading
  • FTC signals crackdown on ed-tech harvesting kid's data
    Trade watchdog, and President, reminds that COPPA can ban ya

    The US Federal Trade Commission on Thursday said it intends to take action against educational technology companies that unlawfully collect data from children using online educational services.

    In a policy statement, the agency said, "Children should not have to needlessly hand over their data and forfeit their privacy in order to do their schoolwork or participate in remote learning, especially given the wide and increasing adoption of ed tech tools."

    The agency says it will scrutinize educational service providers to ensure that they are meeting their legal obligations under COPPA, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.

    Continue reading
  • Mysterious firm seeks to buy majority stake in Arm China
    Chinese joint venture's ousted CEO tries to hang on - who will get control?

    The saga surrounding Arm's joint venture in China just took another intriguing turn: a mysterious firm named Lotcap Group claims it has signed a letter of intent to buy a 51 percent stake in Arm China from existing investors in the country.

    In a Chinese-language press release posted Wednesday, Lotcap said it has formed a subsidiary, Lotcap Fund, to buy a majority stake in the joint venture. However, reporting by one newspaper suggested that the investment firm still needs the approval of one significant investor to gain 51 percent control of Arm China.

    The development comes a couple of weeks after Arm China said that its former CEO, Allen Wu, was refusing once again to step down from his position, despite the company's board voting in late April to replace Wu with two co-chief executives. SoftBank Group, which owns 49 percent of the Chinese venture, has been trying to unentangle Arm China from Wu as the Japanese tech investment giant plans for an initial public offering of the British parent company.

    Continue reading
  • SmartNICs power the cloud, are enterprise datacenters next?
    High pricing, lack of software make smartNICs a tough sell, despite offload potential

    SmartNICs have the potential to accelerate enterprise workloads, but don't expect to see them bring hyperscale-class efficiency to most datacenters anytime soon, ZK Research's Zeus Kerravala told The Register.

    SmartNICs are widely deployed in cloud and hyperscale datacenters as a means to offload input/output (I/O) intensive network, security, and storage operations from the CPU, freeing it up to run revenue generating tenant workloads. Some more advanced chips even offload the hypervisor to further separate the infrastructure management layer from the rest of the server.

    Despite relative success in the cloud and a flurry of innovation from the still-limited vendor SmartNIC ecosystem, including Mellanox (Nvidia), Intel, Marvell, and Xilinx (AMD), Kerravala argues that the use cases for enterprise datacenters are unlikely to resemble those of the major hyperscalers, at least in the near term.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022