Watts Up With That?
November 23, 2009

When the CRU emails first made it into news stories, there was immediate reaction from the head of CRU, Dr. Phil Jones over this passage in an email:

From a yahoo.com news story:

In one leaked e-mail, the research center’s director, Phil Jones, writes to colleagues about graphs showing climate statistics over the last millennium. He alludes to a technique used by a fellow scientist to “hide the decline” in recent global temperatures. Some evidence appears to show a halt in a rise of global temperatures from about 1960, but is contradicted by other evidence which appears to show a rise in temperatures is continuing.

Jones wrote that, in compiling new data, he had “just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (i.e., from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline,” according to a leaked e-mail, which the author confirmed was genuine.
Dr. Jones responded.

However, Jones denied manipulating evidence and insisted his comment had been taken out of context. “The word ‘trick’ was used here colloquially, as in a clever thing to do. It is ludicrous to suggest that it refers to anything untoward,” he said in a statement Saturday.

Ok fine, but how Dr. Jones, do you explain this?

There’s a file of code also in the collection of emails and documents from CRU. A commenter named Neal on climate audit writes:

People are talking about the emails being smoking guns but I find the remarks in the code and the code more of a smoking gun. The code is so hacked around to give predetermined results that it shows the bias of the coder. In other words make the code ignore inconvenient data to show what I want it to show. The code after a quick scan is quite a mess. Anyone with any pride would be to ashamed of to let it out public viewing. As examples [of] bias take a look at the following remarks from the MANN code files:
Here’s the code with the comments left by the programmer:

function mkp2correlation,indts,depts,remts,t,filter=filter, refperiod=refperiod,$ datathresh=datathresh ; ; THIS WORKS WITH REMTS BEING A 2D ARRAY (nseries,ntime) OF MULTIPLE TIMESERIES ; WHOSE INFLUENCE IS TO BE REMOVED. UNFORTUNATELY THE IDL5.4 p_correlate ; FAILS WITH >1 SERIES TO HOLD CONSTANT, SO I HAVE TO REMOVE THEIR INFLUENCE ; FROM BOTH INDTS AND DEPTS USING MULTIPLE LINEAR REGRESSION AND THEN USE THE ; USUAL correlate FUNCTION ON THE RESIDUALS. ; pro maps12,yrstart,doinfill=doinfill ; ; Plots 24 yearly maps of calibrated (PCR-infilled or not) MXD reconstructions ; of growing season temperatures. Uses “corrected” MXD – but shouldn’t usually ; plot past 1960 because these will be artificially adjusted to look closer to ; the real temperatures. ; and later the same programming comment again in another routine:

; ; Plots (1 at a time) yearly maps of calibrated (PCR-infilled or not) MXD ; reconstructions ; of growing season temperatures. Uses “corrected” MXD – but shouldn’t usually ; plot past 1960 because these will be artificially adjusted to look closer to ; the real temperatures.

You can claim an email you wrote years ago isn’t accurate saying it was “taken out of context”,* but a programmer making notes in the code does so that he/she can document what the code is actually doing at that stage, so that anyone who looks at it later can figure out why this function doesn’t plot past 1960. In this case, it is not allowing all of the temperature data to be plotted. Growing season data (summer months when the new tree rings are formed) past 1960 is thrown out because “these will be artificially adjusted to look closer to the real temperatures”, which implies some post processing routine.

Spin that, spin it to the moon if you want. I’ll believe programmer notes over the word of somebody who stands to gain from suggesting there’s nothing “untowards” about it.

Either the data tells the story of nature or it does not. Data that has been “artificially adjusted to look closer to the real temperatures” is false data, yielding a false result.

For more details, see Mike’s Nature Trick

UPDATE: By way of verification….

The source files with the comments that are the topic of this thread are in this folder of the FOI2009.zip file


in the files

These first two files are dated 1/18/2000, and the map24 file on 11/10/1999 so it fits timeline-wise with Dr. Jones email where he mentions “Mike’s Nature trick” which is dated 11/16/1999, six days later.

UPDATE2: Commenter Eric at the Climate Audit Mirror site writes:


From documents\harris-tree\recon_esper.pro:

; Computes regressions on full, high and low pass Esper et al. (2002) series, ; anomalies against full NH temperatures and other series. ; CALIBRATES IT AGAINST THE LAND-ONLY TEMPERATURES NORTH OF 20 N ; ; Specify period over which to compute the regressions (stop in 1960 to avoid ; the decline Note the wording here “avoid the decline” versus “hide the decline” in the famous email.


I’ll give Dr. Jones and CRU* the benefit of the doubt, maybe these are not “untowards” issues, but these things scream for rational explanations. Having transparency and being able to replicate all this years ago would have gone a long way towards either correcting problems and/or assuaging concerns.